The Justice Department is evaluating recommendations from the public for increasing transparency as it finalizes its new open government plan.
In December, the White House issued an open government directive as part of its larger Open Government Initiative. The directive requires agencies to take suggestions from the public about how to be more transparent and come up with an open government plan by April 7.
Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli is leading a working group to oversee development of the DOJ’s plan.
The Justice Department used an online feedback system called Ideascale to set up a Web site, OpenDOJ, to gather suggestions from the public. According to the OpenDOJ Web site, the working group will incorporate “as many of these ideas as are feasible” into the plan.
“The ideas are being examined based on a variety of criteria, including to see how well they serve the department’s broader mission, whether or not our current resources would support the implementation of the suggestions and whether the suggestion would truly ‘open up’ the department,” said spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler.
Some ideas offered by individuals on the OpenDOJ site are more likely to be included than others. One suggestion would have Attorney General Eric Holder make his daily schedule public, as is done by the State Department and by the White House. Several other suggestions involve the Freedom of Information Act, including a proposal that previously released FOIA documents be organized and published on the Justice Department’s Web site.
Other ideas unlikely to make the cut: a popular proposal that the Justice Department live stream all meetings online.
The Justice Department has some special circumstances to consider, according to Schmaler.
“In evaluating the release of any department information, we must balance the interests of transparency with the need to protect sensitive law enforcement and national security matters and information,” Schmaler said.
The department also leads the effort to encourage agencies throughout the administration to comply with Holder’s FOIA guidelines.