Agency that initiated open gov process ranks near last in open gov study

However, OMB was ranked among the five agencies considered the "weakest," falling below the Treasury Department and the Department of Defense, and just above the Department of Energy and the Department of Justice.

"The OMB plan does an excellent job of explaining current activities to be transparent, participatory and collaborative," noted OpentheGovernment.org, whose contributors range from interest groups to academics. 

"However, OMB’s plans to improve these issue areas remain overly vague, with almost no listed milestones or schedule for specific actions," the study found. "OMB’s plan also does fails to include any information about how the plan was developed, what outreach was done to gather input and ideas, and how it will inform the public about its progress."

The Treasury Department, meanwhile, lacked such items as "a description of staffing, organizational structure and process for analyzing and responding to [Freedom of Information Act] requests." The DOJ, while making great gains in how it handles FOIA requests, "does not list any currently available data sets" for public use.

Patrice McDermott, the project's director, and Amy Bennett, a project associate, praised the Obama administration for its work so far and noted that early kinks in the exhaustive open-government practice were expected. 

Still, they called on federal agencies to continue making progress in the coming months, noting they planned to deliver a report on best transparency practices in the near future.

"The outside government openness community is putting the final touches on a process for describing minimal elements that should be part of an open government floor," they wrote. "We will share the final version of this floor with the Obama administration and hope that it or something similar becomes the standard that is adopted by all federal agencies."