Open Government Directive M-10-06

On December 8, 2009, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued the memorandum M-10-06, to respond to the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, which was issued on January 21, 2009.

Defining an Open Government

Essentially, the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government recognized that the government should leverage two-way, interactive web 2.0 tools and technologies in order to facilitate information sharing, citizen participation and public and private sector collaboration. According to the Open Forum Foundation,

“Transparency of government practices and information, both within government agencies and between the government and its stake holders, is the heart of open government. Transparency is as much about open-mindedness and information sharing, as it is about increased communication and information access. Citizen engagement, public-private sector partnerships, and inter-agency initiatives are all predicated upon transparency.”

According to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, an open government is made up of three principles:

  1. Transparency – Transparency promotes accountability, by providing the public with information about what the government is doing.
  2. Participation – 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.
  3. Collaboration – Collaboration improves the effectiveness of government by encouraging partnerships and cooperation within the federal government, across levels of government and between government and private institutions.

Memorandum 10-06 Requirements

The memorandum required executive departments and agencies to take the following steps to further the goal of developing an open government:

  • Publish government information online
  • Improve the quality of government information
  • Create and institutionalize a culture of open government
  • Create an enabling policy framework for open government

These recommendations are discussed in greater detail below.

Publish Government Information Online

Agencies are required to publish their information online in open formats, to the extent permitted by law and subject to valid privacy, confidentiality, security and other restrictions. They are required to preserve and maintain electronic information. Timely publication of information is considered an essential element of transparency and delays should be avoided as much as possible.

In this case, “open format” refers to information that can be retrieved, downloaded, indexed and searched by commonly used web search applications. Open formats are those considered platform independent, machine readable and available to the public, without restrictions that would impede the re-use of that information. Agencies are required to create Open Government Webpages, which can serve as the gateway for agency activities related to the Open Government Directive.

Improve the Quality of Government Information

Senior agency leaders are required to ensure that the information posted online conforms to OMB guidance on information quality and tat adequate systems and processes are put into place within the agency to promote such standards.

Create and Institutionalize a Culture of Open Government

In order to establish and sustain a high level of openness and accountability in every agency, senior leaders ought to strive to incorporate values of transparency, participation and collaboration into the ongoing work of their agency. Open government can only be achieved as a result of a joint effort from policy, legal, procurement, finance and technology operations.

Create an Enabling Policy Framework for Open Government

Emerging technologies have the potential to create new forms of communication between government and the people it serves. Policies must evolve to reflect and leverage such changing technologies.


This article takes a look at the Office of Management and Budget Memorandum M-10-06, issued on December 8, 2009. It develops upon the President’s Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, issued on January 21, 2009. M-10-06 sets out more detailed requirements for executive departments and agencies to create elements of an open government.

CIPP Exam Preparation

In preparation for the Certified Information Privacy Professional/US Government (CIPP/G) exam, a privacy professional should be comfortable with topics related to this post, including:

  • Open Government Directive – OMB M-10-06 (I.C.j.i.)

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