NASA Highlights Open Government Activities
Open Government Initiative

Source: Article by Robbie Schingler, Special Liaison for Open Government

Whether NASA is using social networks to allow students to interact directly with astronauts, or creating a Cloud Computing Platform to give unprecedented access to scientific data, NASA has embraced Open Government. These and other activities are detailed in NASA's Open Government Plan, available to the public at www.nasa.gov/open/plan.

The White House issued the Open Government Directive calling on Executive Branch agencies to become more open, accountable, and centered on the principles of transparency, collaboration, and participation (www.whitehouse.gov/open). April 7 was the deadline for Federal Agencies to release their plans.

NASA is expanding transparency, participation, and collaboration and creating a new level of openness and accountability. NASA is focusing on embedding open government into three specific aspects of operations—policy, technology, and culture.

Highlights of NASA's Open Government Activities

Flagship Initiatives

Three "Flagship" initiatives at NASA will take Open Government to a new level:

  • Policy: NASA is working to make open source software development ( opensource.arc.nasa.gov ) more collaborative at NASA to benefit both the Agency and the public.
  • Technology: NASA Nebula ( nebula.nasa.gov ), as the world's first open-source cloud computing platform, offers an easier way for NASA scientists and researchers to share large, complex data sets with external partners and the public.
  • Culture: The creation of a new NASA Participatory Exploration Office will infuse more public participation into NASA's mission.

Unique to NASA:

  • By engaging the public in February and March of this year, NASA received 420 ideas from 280 different authors through the online Citizen Engagement Tool (more than any other Agency).
  • NASA has given the public live access to its missions through NASA TV.
  • Education outreach includes programs where students interact with astronauts and take controls of space instruments remotely.
  • NASA's prize program, Centennial Challenge, has engaged inventors from all over the country to successfully build prototypes of technology for space.

NASA's founding legislation in 1958 instructed NASA to "…provide for the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of information…." The principles of Open Government have been embedded in NASA operations for 50 plus years.

NASA invites the public to comment on the plan and have input into the implementation of Open Government initiatives.