What does Open Government Mean to You?

At the start of his administration, President Obama announced his commitment to Open Government and the principles of transparency, participation and collaboration. Although we still have work to do at EPA to further these principles, I believe that we have made great strides in embracing the spirit of Open Government. On February 5th, we launched our Open Government Web page where we share our progress in meeting our Open Government goals.

As EPA’s lead for developing a formal plan for the Agency to more fully implement Open Government, I’d like to know your thoughts on what our Open Government Plan should embrace. What does Open Government mean to you? Is it having more data available to conduct your own analyses? Is it knowing more about the research and regulatory efforts we have underway at EPA? Is being able to more directly participate and collaborate with us in our environmental mission. Are there fundamental or philosophical changes that you believe we need to make in order to truly achieve open government?

Although I have been in federal service for many years, I joined EPA just over a year ago. While I had a good sense about the general mission of the Agency, I was unaware of some of the truly amazing work that goes on in the EPA that supports Open Government. For example, in the last year I learned that EPA has a wealth of environmental data to support actions on many levels– our national programs, our communities, and our personal health. I wonder how many people know about our vast data holdings that range from extensive watershed data, to the compliance history of the facilities we regulate, to air quality and ultraviolet (UV) radiation indices that help you decide when it is unhealthy to be outside.

I am a big fan of our MyEnvironment application which is accessible from our home page. I use MyEnvironment to get information about the areas where my family and I live and play.

Looking ten years into the future, how do you hope that Open Government will have transformed the way that we serve the public and protect human health and the environment? I’m looking forward to learning about the creative and innovative thoughts people have that will help EPA work better with you and better protect the environment and public health.

About the author: Lisa Schlosser is the Director of EPA’s Office of Information Collection.

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