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USDA Celebrates the United States’ Entry into the Open Government Partnership

Posted by Christopher L. Smith, Chief Information Officer, US Department of Agriculture in Initiatives Research and Science Technology
Sep 20, 2011

President Obama has made openness a high priority, committing his Administration to an “unprecedented level of openness in Government” on his first full day in office.

Since then, the Administration has disclosed more and more information requested under the Freedom of Information Act. We have made voluminous information available on and other government websites and we have used technology in innovative ways that harness government information to improve the lives of ordinary citizens.

Today, as President Obama signs the Open Government Partnership declaration, we are proud to highlight some of the ways USDA has advanced America’s domestic open government agenda and created a more effective and efficient government through greater transparency, participation, and collaboration.  Some of our key accomplishments include:

  • providing public access to the decisions by judges, allowing users to directly review published Agriculture Decisions.
  • offering a service linking space and agriculture through its CropScape geospatial data serviceCropScape significantly eases users’ access to agricultural geospatial satellite products.  CropScape delivers data visualization tools directly into the hands of the agricultural community – without the need for specialized training, software or equipment.  These resources can be used by researchers, policymakers and farmers alike to evaluate vital issues facing American agriculture, such as agricultural sustainability, land cover monitoring, biodiversity, weather disasters and more.
  • directly supporting First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Initiative to end childhood obesity.  USDA released data for the Apps for Healthy Kids competition which challenged software developers, game designers, students, and other innovators to develop fun and engaging software tools and games that drive children– directly or through their parents – to eat better and be more physically active.

An open and transparent government is much more than releasing information.  It is about harnessing the skills and talents of the American people, establishing greater collaboration among Federal agencies, and ensuring that the taxpayer’s money is wisely spent.

To that end, today, USDA is recommitting itself to the principles that the President announced on his first day in office and exemplified in our work.  We will continue to forge ahead in the spirit of the Open Government Partnership.