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Frequently Asked Questions Open Government

  • The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request is one way to obtain that information. Another is to request the position description from the posting agency by way of USAJOBS. You must provide the Vacancy Identification or Control Number(s) located on the Job Opportunity Announcement. Also, the contact information for the Human Resource Specialist that posted the position is located at the bottom of the Overview page.
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  • An open government is transparent, participatory, and collaborative. Transparency means sharing data and information. Participation means hearing and implementing ideas from many kinds of people and organizations. Collaboration means engaging in ongoing conversation with employees and the public and working together to solve problems. Doing these things not only increases our own accountability but also build trust with the American people. You can read various versions of our Open Government Plan on our Web site. Our take on openness has been to start by focusing on collaboration, both inside OPM and with people who were not affiliated with us before we wrote the first version of our Open Government Plan. For example, we have worked with other agencies to share technology solutions and with members of the public on improving responsiveness to our stakeholders.
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  • In the context of Open Government, transparency means the following. This is necessarily an incomplete list, since transparency can take many forms:
    • Making government information more accessible, particularly by publishing more online. This should be done in a timely fashion and with, in the President’s words, a “presumption of openness”: while we must respect individuals’ privacy and ensure security, we should try to make as much information available as possible and not wait to receive Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to post information online;
    • Providing online information in open formats that make the information easy to retrieve, organize, search, and use;
    • Publishing data sets of high value to the public; and
    • Making available on the Web information about how we go about doing things such as processing FOIA requests and responding to Congressional inquiries.
    In other words, transparency is about making information about our work easily available to the public in ways that are useful to you. Transparency is also good for OPM: it makes doing our job easier and more efficient.
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  • The Open Government Directive (M-10-06) of December 8, 2009 sets an unprecedented standard for a more transparent, participatory, and collaborative form of government. You can find out more about what agencies throughout the Executive are doing to improve openness by visiting the White House’s Open Government Initiative website. Our open government site contains information about open government efforts at OPM.
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  • A flagship initiative is a large project. All departments and agencies that were required to have an Open Government Plan also need to have one flagship initiative for the first version their Open Government Plans. We are all working on our second versions, which will also include at least one flagship per department or agency. For our first flagship initiative, we are implementing collaboration and knowledge management technologies at OPM. Examples of these technologies include e-libraries, document management tools, collaboration tools, and Web 2.0 technologies. The tools will be accessible virtually by OPM employees wherever they may be working as well as by agencies and the public. These technologies will support a learning culture that will continuously build employees’ knowledge, enable better management of workforce talent, and provide sustainable knowledge documentation, sharing, and collaboration for the public, other agencies, and our own employees. For our second flagship initiative, we are centralizing our call centers and help desks. Our expectation is to provide seamless, accurate, and timely customer service through a logical, tiered approach. We will make it easier for members of the public to get answers from OPM quickly. Centralizing call centers and help desks will also encourage employees to work together and speak in one voice, and it will produce cost savings over the medium and long terms by reducing duplication of operational functions. You can read more about our first flagship initiative in version 1 and about our second flagship in version 2 of our Open Government Plan.
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  • Much of the work of our initial flagship initiative involves learning more about the types of information and documents our stakeholders want from OPM. As we do so, to improve public knowledge of our work, we will highlight documents that might seem buried in our site or that you might not think to look for. In this way, we will make it easier for you to find the information you need when you need it. For our second flagship initiative, we are centralizing our call centers and help desks to provide seamless, accurate, and timely customer service through a logical, tiered approach. This will make it easier for you get answers from us quickly. It will also help us speak in one voice, thereby reducing the potential for confusion. Finally, it will benefit taxpayers by producing cost savings over the medium and long terms through a reduction in duplication of operational functions.
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  • The Open Government Directive states: "participation allows members of the public to contribute ideas and expertise so that their Government can make policies with the benefit of information that is widely dispersed in society." Please visit our open government blog and provide comments there. We will take your ideas into account in our policymaking processes.
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  • Collaboration implies partnership – two-way communication and working together to solve problems. To identify ways to become more open and evaluate our progress, we initially formed teams of members from many groups and organizations: offices throughout OPM, our union, other agencies, government watchdog groups and other non-profit entities, and colleges and universities. Internally, this has meant new opportunities for some OPM employees who do not commonly take leadership roles but have great ideas to bring to the table. Externally, it has meant opening a window into our daily work. As we transition from planning to action, many of these individuals remain engaged in our efforts. We are also working with a broad range of other agencies on technology solutions that will help us organize, find, and share information so we can provide better customer service to our stakeholders.
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  • The Open Government Directive requires agencies to make information of various kinds easily available to the public. Each agency’s Open Government Plan includes a Strategic Plan for Transparency that details what the agency will make available and how it will do so. Below you will find information about some of the high-value information we make publicly available, and you can find more links to information sources in the Strategic Plan for Transparency in our initial Open Government Plan. We make a considerable amount of information available to the public electronically. One example is Fedscope, where you can access federal human resources data. We also provide policies related to the appeal process, staffing information, veterans’ preference information, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) reports, pay and leave information, classification standards, and retirement information, all on our website, opm.gov, or through other federal Web sites (see version 1 of our Open Government Plan for details). You can find a lot of OPM data on Data.gov, as well as on our Federal Employment Statistics site or through our list of datasets. We also provide financial data for publication on USAspending.gov. Our Testimony page presents testimony dating back to the 109th Congress (2005-2006). Reports to other entities, such as the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), can be found in our Reports Portal. We develop human resources policies for the Federal government. Many policies can be found in the archives of the Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCO) Council, dating back to 1996. Others are available through our publications database.
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  • OPM Alert is the official operating status app of the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM). This free app provides a real time look at the current operating status for Federal Government offices in the Washington, DC area.   Check it out at http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/snow-dismissal-procedures/mobile-app/  
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