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Open Government Directive and Drupal

On his very first day in office, President Obama directed all federal agencies to break down barriers to transparency, participation, and collaboration between the federal government and the people it is to serve. Last week, the Obama administration published the Open Government Directive (OGD). The directive, sent to the head of every US federal department and agency, instructs the agencies to take specific actions to open their operations to the public. The three principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration are at the heart of this directive. It could be big for Drupal, and Open Source.

The directive imposes concrete milestones and specific requirements on the federal agencies. In 120 days, each agency needs to publish a detailed Open Government Plan of their own; within 45 days each federal agency must publish at least three new high-value data sets and register those data sets via Data.gov; and within 60 days, each department must set up a page or website at agency.gov/open. The /open-website needs to outline how the agency is going to open its data, but also tools with which the public can comment on it.

Personally, I think /open makes for a brilliant convention -- I hope it will be adopted by governments and organizations all around the world.

While the path to an open government will be a long journey with many challenges beyond just picking a website technology, this could be a great opportunity for Drupal. Within 60 days, every federal agency will need to have an interactive website setup at agency.gov/open. Drupal has all the features required to implement agency.gov/open (e.g. commenting, blogging, forums, aggregation, data mashups, micro-blogging, voting, etc). Drupal is perfect to get these /open-websites up and running quickly, and makes for a great foundation to extend its functionality in the future. Plus, by using an Open Source technology, agencies can share and collaborate on both best practices and code. It is a no-brainer.

At Acquia, we'll continue to build out our government offerings and ecosystem. Although we will be announcing the full set of details of our government offering in January, highlights will include a "starter kit" for government agencies to quickly achieve their /open requirement. In addition, we have already launched a webinar series -- we kicked it off last week with a webinar that included Andrew Hoppin (CIO of the New York State Senate) and how they are using Drupal to achieve their OGD requirements. In January 2010, we will be launching our first webinar with the General Services Administration, and we will be presenting at the OGD workshop that the Department of Transportation is organizing.

The Acquia partner ecosystem will also play a key part in our efforts, from our system integration partners who will help deliver the strategy and implementation, to our technology partners, such as Alfresco, who can deliver critical components related to the OGD such as document and records management.

And while agencies hash things out, Vivek Kundra (US Chief Information Officer) and Aneesh Chopra (US Chief Technology Officer) committed that within 60 days, they will create an Open Government Dashboard on http://www.whitehouse.gov/open. (Remind that Whitehouse.gov is a Drupal site.) This dashboard will publish each agency’s Open Government Plan, together with aggregate statistics and visualizations to track the agencies' progress toward meeting the deadlines for action outlined in the OGD.