Obama initiatives include VA hospital report cards

Saying that “commitment to open government goes beyond the making of government-wide policy for the future,” the White House announced a number of “open government” initiatives on Tuesday.

The initiatives come with an “Open Government Directive” (PDF) from Peter Orszag, director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, that sets out steps toward creating a more open government and establishes deadlines for action:

  • Publish Government Information Online – Includes a requirement that each agency create an Open Government Web page within 60 days.
  • Improve the Quality of Government Information – Within 45 days each agency must designate an official to be accountable for the quality and objectivity of federal spending information
  • Create and Institutionalize a Culture of Open Government – Within 120 days, each agency will publish on its Open Government Web page an a plan about how it will improve transparency and public participation.
  • Create an Enabling Policy Framework for Open Government – Officials will review OMB policies to find impediments to open government and propose changes to increase openness.

Photo by Ed Dame via Flickr

The specific initiatives just announced come from all departments of the cabinet. One of the most notable is a hospital report card that will include raw data for veterans administration hospitals:

To empower Veterans and the public at large to track quality, safety, and access to Veterans Health Administration (VHA) facilities, the Department of Veterans Affairs is publishing hospital “report cards,” including raw data on care provided in outpatient and hospital settings, quality of care within given patient populations, and patient satisfaction and outcomes.

Other health-related initiatives include:

Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Energy & the National Aeronautics and Space Administration: National Assets for High-Tech Economic Growth
Fledgling businesses need easier ways to identify and assess entrepreneurial opportunities that will create jobs and strengthen economic growth. Towards that goal, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Agricultural Research Service in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration are increasing access to information on 1) new technologies available for commercial licensing, 2) Cooperative Research and Development (CRADA) awards and opportunities, 3) Small Business Innovation Research  (SBIR) awards and opportunities,  4) Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) awards and opportunities, and 5) projects sponsored through grants and contracts.

Department of Veterans Affairs: Geographic Distribution of Expenditures
The National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics will release three years of raw data on estimated annual VA spending in each county and congressional district.  The data represent payments to Veterans and dependents, services provided to Veterans, and general operating expenses. These data will be used by state and local Veteran agencies, Veteran advocacy groups, and the public to compare to and plan for local Veteran needs. Making the raw data available will enable its combination with local-population and veteran-related data, fostering new knowledge and improved services for Veterans.

Department of Agriculture: Promoting a Healthier America
To unleash innovative approaches to improving the health of America’s children, the Department of Agriculture is releasing nutrition data for over 1,000 commonly consumed foods and launching a national competition for creative, mobile and web-based games. The competition will challenge entrepreneurs, software developers, and students to leverage the newly released data to develop games to help children make healthy eating decisions.

Department of Labor: Keeping America’s Workers Out of Harm’s Way
For the first time, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the Department of Labor is systematically publishing employer-specific information about occupational fatalities online.  Employers with reported fatalities will have an incentive to take steps to improve safety and prevent future accidents. In addition, responsible employers will be able to use the database to identify dangerous conditions and take proactive precautions.

Department of Veterans Affairs: Veteran Population Model
The Veteran Population Model – using combined data from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Department of Defense (DoD), and Bureau of the Census – provides the official estimates and projections of the veteran population for each year from April 1, 2000, through September 30, 2036. Previously available only through predefined queries, access to the raw data will enable public and private-sector service organizations to incorporate VetPop data into their models to project future demand based on population and demographic estimates.

Q&A on achieving a more open government

Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra take questions on the directive and the move to a more transparent government.