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Open Government at USDA

Openness and Transparency principles permeate all levels and stages of mission/business delivery at USDA. The 2016 updates in the USDA Open Government Plan 4.0 address operational outcomes achieved since the last Plan update (v3, 2014), along with planned future improvements in specific Open subject areas.

This USDA Open Government Plan 4.0 Update (PDF, 874 KB) is the fifth iteration of Open planning at the Department. It is preceded by Open Plans 1.0 (2010), 1.1 (2010), 2.0 (2012) and 3.0 (2014). Plan 4.0 continues to build from its predecessors; in that Plans 1.0 and 1.1 were primarily foundational in nature and focused on establishing and launching basic Open structures and procedures, while Plan 2.0 emphasized the promotion of new Open media and Open cultural changes. Plan 3.0 reported wide ranging successes and announced progressive future objectives in practicing Open as a business norm and accepting Open as a strategic organizational value.

The OGP V 4.0 follows the structure and substance as outlined in White House/OSTP guidance referenced by memorandum (Feb. 24, 2014) and supplemental guidance. This plan introduces the inclusion of four new Expanded Initiatives, which include observations on Open Innovation Methods, Access to Scientific Data and Publications, Open Source Software, and Spending Information.

To build on the advances in the previous Open Government Plans, Open Government Plan 4.0 continues to align with USDA's Strategic Plan 2014-2018 (PDF, 2 MB), in particular Strategic Goal 5: Enable Information as a Strategic Asset for Decision Makers and Citizens at Any Level.

Data Sets

USDA has published many datasets to enhance transparency, increase responsiveness and stimulate economic opportunities with our stakeholders.

Through the USDA's Data Stewardship Working Group, the Department continues to identify new datasets for public release, or enhancements to those that are already available.

Dozens of published datasets have been deemed high-value and remain popular among the public, including:

Visit the USDA Open Data Catalog.

Regulation Reform

President Obama outlined his plan to create a 21st-century regulatory system - one that protects public health and welfare while promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation. Among other things, his Executive Order on Regulation said the following: Always consider costs and reduce burdens for American businesses and consumers when developing rules; expand opportunities for public participation and public comment; simplify rules; promote freedom of choice; and ensure that regulations are driven by real science.

The President also called for an unprecedented government-wide review of regulations already on the books. As a result of that review, more than two dozen agencies identified initiatives to reduce burdens and save money.

Agencies shall regularly report on the status of their retrospective review efforts to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). Agency reports should describe past progress, anticipated accomplishments, and proposed timelines for relevant actions, with an emphasis on high-priority reforms.

Plain Writing Act

President Obama emphasized the importance of establishing "a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration" in his January 21, 2009, Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government (PDF, 141 KB).

The Plain Writing Act of 2010 (PDF, 125 KB) requires that all federal agencies write "clear Government communication that the public can understand and use."

Visit USDA's Plain Writing page to learn more.

Stay Connected

There are a variety of opportunities for you to stay engaged and participate, collaborate and learn more about our activities.


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