Page last updated at 11:12 GMT, Friday, 22 May 2009 12:12 UK

Obama plans more open government

Barack Obama, AFP
President Obama pledged more open government on his first day in office

Americans are getting a say in the way the Obama administration opens up the policy making process.

Via a website, Americans are being asked for ideas about making government more transparent.

The best ideas, from this first stage, will be debated online and then used in central discussions about moves towards more open government.

Finally, citizens will help draft the wording of recommendations about what the administration should do.

Three stages

The proposals to include citizens make good on a promise laid out in a memo, issued by the Obama administration, on its first day in office.

In that memo the President Obama "committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government" saying that it should govern in a manner that was transparent, participatory, and collaborative.

How it should go about doing this will be explored in May and June as Americans are invited to give their opinions and advise the Obama administration as it draws up plans.

The first phase involves "brainstorming" ideas and runs until 28 May in which citizens can send in ideas via post, e-mail, or a website.

From 3-14 June, the ideas generated in the first phase will be debated online via a centrally-hosted blog.

Finally, from 15-19 June, via a wiki, Americans will be able to help draft the language used to describe the best proposals.

Following the public collaboration phase, the US government plans to consult with its agencies on the final wording. After this an Open Government Directive will be issued that will guide agencies in adopting the ideas.

"The process of making policy must benefit from the best available information in society," said the White House in a statement announcing the plan. "Much of the expertise we need can be found among the nation's citizens."



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