Today, the Obama administration released its second National Action Plan (NAP), the administration’s plan to promote transparency for the coming two years, produced as part of the international Open Government Partnership that the U.S. co-founded in 2011.
The Open Government Partnership is an international procedure for countries to discuss transparency reform, where messy, complex questions about integrity and accountability are simplified into discrete “commitments” that nations present publicly in a show of shared value, subject to some level of evaluation and critique. As we’ve written before, this international commitment process creates some valuable new opportunities for change, while also creating a bias toward incremental reforms that can be voluntarily implemented.
Given that background, the release of a new National Action Plan presents a complicated opportunity for domestic advocates. Offering a simplified evaluation of the President is probably least among them, since national action plans represent an amalgam of commitments: some are new, and some have been in progress for years; some are specific and measurable, and some are aspirational and vague; some important issues are covered, and some issues are absent altogether.