The president should make transparency a factor in federal employee performance evaluations where it is a part of the job description. Changing the culture of government to be more transparent will require direct individual accountability for employees and supervisors and recognition of work to improve transparency. Too often in the past, information requests have been denied, new online tools delayed, and information removed without any specific official or employee being held responsible for the action – either internally or externally. As much as possible, this accountability should be structured as positive incentives for employees – better performance evaluations for those employees that make strong contributions to ensuring an agency or office is conducting business more transparently.
The next administration should require an annual Transparency Scorecard (based on the metrics established by the Working Group) for each agency, with an overall report by OMB, which would be part of the E-Government Act report or a larger Management Reporting structure. Competition is a great incentive when seeking fast changes in performance. Government should create such a competitive incentive by requiring publicly disclosed Transparency Scorecards covering a wide range of agency dissemination activities. Congress should receive the annual OMB report and could request a report from elsewhere, such as GAO, on a regular basis. The possibility of adapting the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) should be explored. A PART review helps identify a program’s strengths and weaknesses to inform funding and management decisions aimed at making the program more effective. The assessment would have to be adjusted to both catch transparency/dissemination program failures and analyze why a program falters, as well as what is necessary to strengthen it to accomplish the goals of transparency and dissemination.
Transparency awards (Window on Government Award) should be created and regularly given to acknowledge agencies and civil servants that have made government more transparent. Awards are a simple but clear indication of the administration’s approval for transparency efforts. Acknowledgement of the best new tools, highest performing offices, and most innovative efforts is one of the best ways to make other parts of government aware of these actions with the hope they will create similar changes elsewhere.
- From the 21st Century RTK Agenda