OGD: Treasury refines its planBy Ryan Sibley Jun 11 2010 3:53 p.m.
Last month the Department of Treasury released the second iteration of its open government plan. The agency says it worked on three points to improve upon its first plan, adding specificity, clarifying the FOIA process, and addressing things missing from the first attempt – such as an outline revealing information requests from Congress. Treasury says it is continually working to improve its Open Government plan to satisfy what the public would like to see.
Included in those three focus areas is improving aspects of the plan regarding the FOIA process. Currently, Treasury posts FOIA documents it believes to be of heightened interest to the public. Enron documents and documents from the Office of Foreign Asset Control are displayed as documents frequently requested from Treasury and available on the agency’s open site now.
When asked if Treasury officials will ever post the responses to all FOIAs processed, officials said that the sheer volume of that information would be too much to handle on the site. So they are instead strategic about posting information, providing only what they consider the public to have a great interest in.
In order to determine what interests of the public are, Treasury officials responsible for the open plan are monitoring requests that come to the Open@do.treas.gov e-mail address, the reference library and Treasury’s telephone operator.
Treasury also says that, as part of the open initiative, the department is working hard to create a robust and effective website. When the initiative launched in December of last year, Treasury released datasets in what was considered by experts to be bad XML. Because of the bad formatting and the fact that the data was previously available, it was not considered to be high value.
By the time the agency released its written plan in April, which contained an outline for how the agency would make itself accessible to the public, the XML formatting problems had been fixed.
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