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Open Government Blog

Posts By: Charles Conyers

Posted 4:57 PM by

You Have Questions…We Have Answers

We have created a searchable Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) site designed to make finding and sharing information more efficient for our employees, external stakeholders and you, the general public.

The searchable FAQs are available at www.opm.gov/FAQs and contain information across all program areas. You can search for information using common language (e.g., What is Open Government?) or browse by topic (e.g., Senior Executive Service). Answers to your questions are displayed immediately and a list of the Top10 Questions is also available for review. Many questions can be answered right away with FAQs. Why wait in line on the phone? Go online today. Ready, set, search!!!


Director John Berry proclaimed in his letter introducing OPM’s Open Government Plan: “We are very excited about engaging further with our stakeholders – employees, unions, the public, academia, other agencies, and non-profit organizations – to create a more transparent, participatory, and collaborative Government.”

It has been one year since the White House released the Open Government Directive, part of a larger initiative to improve Government services through transparency, public participation and collaborations. Through OPM’s Open Government Plan, we have honored the commitment to our stakeholders by making more information available to and usable by the public. We are engaging OPM employees, along with external stakeholders, in more collaborative and transparent ways to solve complex, agency-wide dilemmas through clearly defining the problem, generating creative ideas, and  recommending new solutions to the OPM Executive Board.

 Here are some of the highlights we have accomplished thus far:

  • OPM was ranked among the top-five agencies in OpenTheGovernment.org’s first assessment of Open Government plans throughout the Executive Branch.
  • We received a Leading Practices Award from the White House for our Flagship initiative to bring knowledge management and collaborative technologies to OPM.
  • We formed a governance structure with representation from throughout OPM and from external stakeholders. Participants from field offices and the union have played vital roles as members of our six Open Government teams. This structure has allowed us to use an inductive approach and incorporate ideas from other agencies, academia, and non-profit institutions by working together across internal and external boundaries. In this way, we collaborate to make meaningful change at OPM.
  • In July the Open Government Team launched a centralized depository of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), which is a dynamic method to respond to stakeholder questions, while allowing our employees to post responses to the web in real time. This allows OPM to communicate our various program messages and even become proactive with our announcements to the public. The depository of questions and answers is, in essence, a topical dictionary of interesting mission-related facts. Users are required to search the data base, which has artificial intelligence functionality; it also allows email inquiries. If used properly, the depository’s responses will expand, giving our stakeholders an opportunity for better “self service” before requesting assistance with commonly asked questions. The site is located at http://www.opm.gov/FAQs/
  • We instituted IdeaFactory in January. This is a crowd-sourcing tool created using open source code provided by Transportation Security Administration (TSA). This tool promotes the sharing of ideas to improve agency processes and saves money by listening to staff suggestions in a purposeful way. This tool leverages the power of inter-agency collaboration at its Contracting and Acquisition best, because the code can be shared federal government-wide sparing unnecessary start-up costs for sharing applications.
  • The Open Government team submitted a Communication and Collaboration plan to insure the conversation about openness principles and create opportunities for collaboration across the agency as well as to provide avenues for continued participation and collaboration with our stakeholders externally.
  • OPM hosted 75 guests in an Open Government summit sponsored by the Open Forum Foundation in mid February. The purpose of the event was to stimulate and document new thinking in the area of transparency and creating an open culture. The summit was structured as a Focus Forum; a collaborative event that fostered innovative thinking and solutions on the topic of openness.  OPM was  joined by other Federal agencies, academia, non-profit organizations and union membership to explore the benefits of taking ownership of transparency and ‘baking it’ into the work we do in our respective organizations, thereby creating a sustainable culture of openness. The summit provided an opportunity for participants to engage in collaborative discussions about Open Government best-practices, challenges, and innovations that span multiple agencies.  The collective knowledge gained from the discussions will be used to develop an inter-agency Guide to Owning Transparency, which will be made available for use by all agencies. This information will assist agencies in taking concrete steps toward developing strategies to enable transparency, as subscribed in the White House Open Government Directive issued December 8, 2009.
  • We have taken some major steps toward providing proactive disclosure of our Executive and Managerial point of contacts on the web using an organizational tree approach. Phase II enhancements will move the tool from an informational to a collaborative experience for our external stakeholders by using a topical integration of our organizations with our Searchable Frequently Asked Questions tool. This tool will field questions and provide contact information as needed.
  • Lastly, in collaboration with our union, OPM has focused on an initiative to establish an agency-wide learning and career center. The purpose of this center is to promote and value continuous learning and development agency-wide as well as to develop an open, knowledge creation and sharing culture. This cultural change is also fostered by the start of a Pilot Mentoring program in March with 78 participants. The agency-wide program is scheduled to begin in mid summer.

 We are moving forward with implementing the rest of OPM’s Open Government Plan by focusing on ways in which we can build a culture that truly values openness - collaboration, participation and transparency -  and learn how it can help us better do our jobs and fulfill our mission to recruit, retain, and honor a world-class workforce to serve the American people.

 Visit the Open OPM blog at http://www.opm.gov/blogs/openopm/index.aspx for the latest Open Government news and events. 


Sunshine Week is “a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information.” OPM has taken the challenge of Open Government and committed itself to becoming a model of openness and transparency. Director John Berry noted in his letter introducing our Open Government Plan, at the United States Office of Personnel Management “We are very excited about engaging further with our stakeholders – employees, unions, the public, academia, other agencies, and non-profit organizations – to create a more transparent, participatory, and collaborative Government”.

The notion of Openness is built in to our strategic plan and our organizational values, which link directly to our mission:  “Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People.” FY10 saw OPM make good progress in creating an environment of “openness”, by making improvements toward proactive disclosure, and effectively responding to FOIA requests.  You can read more in our 2010 Freedom of Information Act Report.


We want to thank those that have shown interest in the non-reimbursable OPM Open Government detail. The application phase has now ended. We have reviewed resumes and statement of interest from a diverse group of highly skilled people, and will set a time in the comming week to further discuss the details with a selected group of candidates.

Below is a special invite for you to attend the Open Government Summit hosted by OPM on February 18, 2011 in Room 1350.  We will kick off the session at 8:30 a.m. and the remainder of the morning will include breakout sessions with various folks across OPM, other agencies and private sector. We hope to share information about the OPM Open Government effort as well as learn best practices from other agencies and some external stakeholders. We have limited seating in Room 1350 so please respond to the invite below as soon as possible.

http://owning-transparency.eventbrite.com/

 

Look forward to seeing you at the session.


 

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Learn More

If you would like to learn more about the OpenOPM initiative, visit www.opm.gov/open.

 
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