Thursday, December 24, 2009

ONC = Open Not Closed

I have written previously of my disappointment that some workgroups of the HIT Policy Committee were meeting behind closed doors without adequate explanation why these could not be open meetings. Joseph Conn of Modern Healthcare has also been following this story and trying to get answers.

Well, obviously the ONC has been listening. After Joe's most recent article, where he goes into some detail on the interpretation of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, or FACA, Dr. David Blumenthal posted a Christmas gift to government 2.0 and transparency enthusiasts - "Bringing You Into the Conversation – Our Commitment to Transparency" - on the Health IT Buzz blog, where he announced a new policy of greater openness and transparency:
Beginning January 1, we’ll implement a new policy that will open up workgroup meetings to the public unless a closed meeting is clearly in the public interest. The decision to close a meeting will be done on a case by case basis at the written request of the workgroup chair(s) reflecting a majority vote by the membership to hold a closed hearing and a justification to do so. Our goal is to make every meeting open, but if a meeting is closed, we’ll report the findings from the meeting on our website and any findings from the meeting will also be reported to the full committee – where anyone can listen to and comment on what the workgroup has to say.

I am very pleased that the ONC is leading in efforts to develop policies in the spirit of government 2.0 principles and the President's "Open Government Directive" which instructs executive branch agencies that they "shall respect the presumption of openness by publishing information online" and by "preserving and maintaining electronic information." Open not closed - it is now the ONC way!

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