DOT Celebrates Transparency Successes during Sunshine Week
FOIA Backlog Reduced 38 Percent in FY2010
Sunshine Week is “a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information.” As Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari noted in his letter introducing our Open Government Plan, at the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), “we believe that it is essential to increase transparency, public engagement, and collaboration in our daily operations.”
During FY 2010, the DOT made good progress in applying the presumption of openness, making proactive disclosures, and ensuring that DOT has systems in place to effectively respond to FOIA requests. In addition, DOT reduced its backlog of initial FOIA requests by 38 percent and its backlog of FOIA administrative appeals by 12 percent. You can read more in our 2010 Freedom of Information Act Report and our 2011 Chief FOIA Officer’s Report.
Data Inventory Released
In addition, DOT released its data inventory during FY 2010. The inventory contains data above and beyond what we already disseminate via USASpending under the provisions of the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA) of 2006 (Public Law 109-282) and the Federal Information Technology Dashboard. DOT is committed to providing quality data to these Web sites in support of transparency and accountability. Our data inventory has been scored in accordance with our Interim Identification & Prioritization Process and Guidelines (v1.0), which will serve as the Department’s guidance for identifying high-value data sets. Over 140 data sets have been registered and scored. The end result of this approach is a prioritized inventory of data that is considered “high-value” at DOT. Since we’ve completed this inventory, we have proceeded with the development of our Departmental Data Release policy, which is moving through the formal review stages at this time. We expect the policy to be signed out in March 2011, at which time we will begin to flow data sets to data.gov.
Redesigned FOIA Site
In early 2011, the DOT launched its re-designed FOIA Home Page and updated its FOIA Reference Guide. In addition, in late December 2010, DOT issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comments on proposed revisions to its FOIA Regulations. DOT expects to publish its revised FOIA Regulations in April 2011.
One transparency initiative that the DOT is especially proud of is DOT's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) Geographic Information System (GIS) website. The site provides mapping capabilities for the ARRA programs. The website includes an interactive map, grant information, the number of projects, the amount of approved funds, detailed grant announcements, Secretarial decision memorandums, the list of selected projects, frequently asked questions, State and other ARRA funding certifications, the capital grant recipients, and the planning grant recipients. Through this webpage, the public can track projects by mode of transportation (aviation, highway, rail, transit, maritime), location, or Congressional district. Also featured on the site are "Voices of the Recovery Act" videos, accessible through links tied to the location of the projects. A person can use the interactive map to see what projects have been funded by the Recovery Act in his/her area and see listings and descriptions of all applicants for discretionary ARRA grant funds.