White House invites Tea Party members to challenge it on transparency issues

White House Chief Technology Officer Andrew McLaughlin said Republicans and conservative Tea Party activists should strive to push the administration to make its policies more open.

He also suggested Tea Party activists, who have called for broad changes to the government, could push the GOP to be more aggressive on the issue.

“I would be thrilled to make this a type of political competition ... to see who can be more radical in their openness, in their data distribution models ... trying to prove to the citizens they can run a better government,” said McLaughlin, a former executive at Google.

He also said he would be “delighted if Republicans started pushing out great open-data models like the Conservatives have in the U.K.”

U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown is leading a major push for the release of public data, while the Conservative Party's David Cameron is running on a platform of transparency and has vowed to publish details of every government contract online.

Republicans have been less emphatic about the need for collaboration between government and citizens through digital tools and online releases of data, McLaughlin said.

The Obama administration has made sharing government data with the public a priority through the launch of Data.gov, which publishes data sets online, and an open-government directive aimed at agencies.

President Barack Obama has directed his administration to make its spending of the $787 billion stimulus bill transparent, and has also made the list of the White House visitors’ log public.

But the Tea Party's momentum could push Democrats to do even more to increase government transparency and accountability.

“In this country, any protest is part of the game,” McLaughlin said. “The skepticism of government is part of the American character. I'd like to see us put that dynamic to work to be open and participatory.”

McLaughlin made the remarks Friday said at an event held by the think tank NDN and the New Policy Institute.