On his first day in office, President Obama signed the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, launching the Open Government Initiative and making openness a high priority for the Administration. Over the past two years, federal agencies have worked hard to make information about how government works more accessible to the public, to solicit citizens’ participation in government decision-making, and to collaborate with all sectors of the economy on new and innovative solutions to difficult issues of national importance.

In support of the Open Government Initiative, NASA released its Open Government Plan on April 7, 2010, announcing more than 150 milestones related to integrating Open Government into the agency’s programs and projects. In April 2011 we released a new infographic and dashboard to communicate the progress in becoming more transparent, participatory, and collaborative. In August, NASA created the new http://open.nasa.gov blog to highlight the agency’s Open Government success stories. The site is a collaborative blog for the open government community to highlight the ways that transparency, participation, and collaboration are being embraced throughout the agency. Earlier this month, in order to improve access to the ever-increasing number of NASA tools and datasets, we created http://data.nasa.gov – a directory of NASA datasets that includes direct links to more the 1,000 datasets grouped in to nine broad categories. A stated goal of Open Government at NASA is to create new opportunities to directly engage developers, technologists, entrepreneurs, citizen scientists and interested citizens in NASA space exploration mission.

Today, President Obama signed the Open Government Partnership declaration – a new, multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. An open and good government is much more than releasing information. It is about harnessing the skills and talents of the American people, establishing greater collaboration among Federal agencies, and ensuring that the taxpayers’ money is wisely spent.

The Open Government Partnership will strengthen the momentum towards more open and accountable government that we see emerging around the globe. By participating in the Partnership, the U.S. will build on the foundation that we have established through the Open Government Initiative, and identify next steps toward promoting the President’s commitment to transparency, participation, and accountability in government.

In celebration of the declaration, NASA is recommitting itself to the principles that the President announced on his first day in office and exemplified in our work since then. NASA will play a key role in the United States Domestic Plan by launching the International Space Apps Challenge to help improve public services and promote innovation through collaboration. The International Space Apps Challenge is an innovative international collaboration that accelerates the development of solutions focused on making government better and addressing critical issues on our planet, including (but not limited to) weather impacts on the global economy and depletion of ocean resources. NASA’s strategic plan calls for international collaboration and challenges NASA to explore together by engaging citizens, harnessing the spirit of innovation, and developing crucial research and technology capabilities that will be required for us to move beyond low Earth orbit. The International Space Apps Challenge provides an opportunity for government to leverage the expertise and entrepreneurial spirit of citizen explorers to help address challenges of global importance. The event embraces the concept of ‘open innovation’ to improve performance, inform decision-making, encourage entrepreneurship, and solve problems more effectively.

We are currently collecting ideas for potential problem statements related to the International Space Apps Challenge and encourage you to share your ideas. We look forward to working together to help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges using space data and technology!

For more information, visit http://open.nasa.gov/appschallenge.
For ongoing updates, follow @intlspaceapps on Twitter.

About Nick

Johnson Space Center

nicholas.g.skytland@nasa.gov