Federal Internet Law & Policy
An Educational Project

E-Government / Info Law

Dont be a FOOL; The Law is Not DIY
- EGovt Act
- Privacy
- - Privacy Act
- - Privacy Protection Act
- Security
- - PKI
- GovNet
- Sec. 508
- Archives & Libraries
- Fed Employee AUP
- Congressional Net Rules

The Federal government is a large unwieldy beast with a vast number of federal agencies and offices. The degree to which an agency has effectively entered the Information era can vary significantly from one office to the next. Some websites are excellent and have revolutionized the way that the government operates; other offices have reluctantly entered the Information Age by hurling up a smattering of assorted information in a variety of disparate and useless ways.

The eGovernment Act of 2002 was passed in order to bring a degree of order to the cacophony through the establishment of the Office of Electronic Government, residing in the Office of Management and Budget in the White House. The eGovernment Act directs the Office of Electronic Government to

  • Upgrade and standardize federal websites; share best practice, coordinate information policy, standards, protocols, procurement and funding.
  • Annually report to Congress on agencies progress in implementing egovernment initiatives.
  • Support central federal portals such as,, and
  • Codifies (puts into law) support for the Federal CIO Council.
  • Improve Federal privacy practices through the requirement of Privacy Impact Statements and the posting of privacy policies on federal websites (See Privacy and the Feds).
  • The eGovernment Act also delineates responsibilities to different federal entities such as FEDCIRC for network security.

    RFC: The White House is collecting comments until July 21, 2009 on how to improve Regulations.Gov. See Regulations.Gov Exchange

    Vivek Kundra, our Chief Information Officer, and Beth Noveck,
    Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Open Government, explain the Open Government Initiative.

    eGovernment Act

  • President's E Government Initiatives Website
  • President Signs E-Government Act - Statement by the President
  • EGov Act Summary
  • EGov Strategy
  • Federal CIO Council
  • E-Government Strategy, Implementing the President’s Management Agenda for E-Government (907k)
  • Senate Committee on Government Affairs: Outline of "E-Government Act of 2001"
  • USDA eGovernment Newsletter: President Signs Egov Act of 2002
  • USDA Powerpoint summary
  • eGovernment Resource Center Australia on US eGovernment Act (large collection of articles re legislative history)
  • White House

    Request for Comment US Open Government National Action Plan

    On September 20, 2011, on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly, the President announced the U.S. Open Government National Action Plan .  The Plan was developed through a process that involved extensive consultations with external stakeholders, including a broad range of civil society groups and members of the private sector, to gather ideas on open government.  As we continue our work to implement the National Action Plan, we want your help.  Specifically, we'd like your input and recommendations on how to improve and help facilitate public participation - your participation - in government.      

    The United States committed to undertake 26 Open Government initiatives in the National Action Plan, and we are working to implement each of them now.  For example, the White House recently announced  that Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will be the senior U.S. official to lead implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, an effort to ensure that taxpayers receive every dollar due for extraction of our natural resources.  A major milestone  was also reached in the development of an open government platform  that will enable governments around the world to stand up their own open government data sites. And just last week, the President fulfilled a commitment  made in the National Action Plan to begin a government-wide effort to reform and modernize records management policies and practices.    

    We are now requesting your assistance with one of the initiatives in the U.S. National Action Plan designed to promote public participation: 

    Develop Best Practices and Metrics for Public Participation . We will identify best practices for public participation in government and suggest metrics that will allow agencies to assess progress toward the goal of becoming more participatory. This effort will highlight those agencies that have incorporated the most useful and robust forms of public participation in order to encourage other agencies to learn from their examples." 

    Given the focus of this initiative, we thought it would be most appropriate to invite you to provide input and ideas on best practices and metrics for public participation, including but not limited to suggestions and recommendations that address the following questions:

  • What are the appropriate measures for tracking and evaluating participation efforts in agency Open Government Plans?
  • What should be the minimum standard of good participation?
  • How should participation activities be compared across agencies with different programs, amounts of regulatory activity, budgets, staff sizes, etc.?
  • What are the most effective forms of technology and web tools to encourage public participation, engage with the private sector/non-profit and academic communities, and provide the public with greater and more meaningful opportunities to influence agencies' plans?
  • What are possible mechanisms for agencies to increase the level of diversity of viewpoints and backgrounds brought to bear in their activities and decisions?
  • What are the most effective strategies for ensuring that participation is well-informed?
  • What are some examples of success stories involving strong public participation, as well as less-than-successful efforts, and what lessons can be drawn from them?
  • Please send your thoughts to us at  or use the web form provided , by January 3, 2012.  We will consider your ideas and input as we continue to implement the U.S. National Action Plan and develop this best practices guidance on public participation. 

  • CIRCULAR NO. A-130 MEMORANDUM FOR HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS  SUBJECT: Management of Federal Information Resources (February 8, 1996 ) (This Circular establishes policy for the management of Federal information resources. Procedural and analytic guidelines for implementing specific aspects of these policies are included as appendices.) Directs agencies to "use electronic media and formats, including public networks, as appropriate and within budgetary constraint, in order to make government information more easily accessible and useful to the public)"
  • EO 13011 Federal Information Technology, July 16, 1996
  • Office of Science and Technology Policy

    "The Office of Science and Technology Policy advises the President on the effects of science and technology on domestic and international affairs. The office serves as a source of scientific and technological analysis and judgment for the President with respect to major policies, plans and programs of the Federal Government. OSTP leads an interagency effort to develop and implement sound science and technology policies and budgets. The office works with the private sector to ensure Federal investments in science and technology contribute to economic prosperity, environmental quality, and national security. "

    The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) was established by Executive Order on November 23, 1993. This Cabinet-level Council is the principal means within the executive branch to coordinate science and technology policy across the diverse entities that make up the Federal research and development enterprise

    On September 30, 2001, Executive Order 13226 formed the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). PCAST was originally established in 1990 to enable the President to receive advice from the private sector and academic community on technology, scientific research priorities, and math and science education. See Federal Advisory Council Act.

  • PCAST June 29, 2004, Meeting Agenda and Registration, OSTP 6/17/2004
  • June 12, 2002 meeting
  • For more information on PCAST, please contact the Executive Director, Stan Sokul, at 456-6070 or
  • "On November 23, 1993, President Clinton established by Executive Order 12882 the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). The responsibilities of PCAST are as follows:

         To advise the President on issues involving science and technology and their roles in achieving national goals.
         To assist the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) in securing private sector participation in its activities.

  • "PCAST consists of 19 members, one of whom is the Assistant to the President on Science and Technology, and 18 of whom are distinguished individuals from non-Federal sectors.  The President appoints all members.  PCAST members have established track records of significant achievement and are representative of the diverse perspectives and expertise in the U.S. science and technology establishment.

    "PCAST advises the President through the Assistant to the President for Science and Technology. The Committee also serves as a formal channel for private sector advice to NSTC.  NSTC is a cabinet-level council chaired by the President that coordinates research and development policies and  activities across federal agencies.  PCAST ensures that the private sector perspective is included in that policy-making process.

    "The Committee reports to the President through the Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, with its term expiring on September 30, 1999 (Executive Order 13062, section 1(g)).  PCAST will meet at such times as the President and Assistant to the President for Science and Technology deem appropriate. "  Source OSTP Factsheet

    President's Information Technology Advisory Committee

    "The President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) is appointed by the President to provide independent expert advice on maintaining America’s preeminence in advanced information technology (IT). PITAC members are IT leaders in industry and academia with expertise relevant to critical elements of the national IT infrastructure such as high-performance computing, large-scale networking, and high-assurance software and systems design. The Committee’s studies help guide the Administration’s efforts to accelerate the development and adoption of information technologies vital for American prosperity in the 21st century.

    "Chartered by Congress under the High-Performance Computing Act of 1991 (Public Law 102-194 ) and the Next Generation Internet Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-305) and formally renewed through Presidential Executive Orders, PITAC is a Fderally chartered advisory committee operating under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) (Public Law 92-463) and other Federal laws governing such activities."

    -- CyberSecurity: A Crisis of Prioritization, Report to the President (Feb. 2005)

    Social Media

    "In June 2010, OMB issued guidance to federal agencies for protecting privacy when using Web-based technologies (such as social media).11 The guidance built upon the protections and requirements outlined in the Privacy Act and E-Government Act and called for agencies to develop transparent privacy policies and notices to ensure that agencies provide adequate notice of their use of social media services to the public, and to analyze privacy implications whenever federal agencies choose to use such technologies to engage with the public." [GAO Social Media p 6]


  • Government Continues Building Private Net, IDG 11/28/01
  • US plan for secure internet 'flawed', BBC 10/18/01
  • 'GovNet' idea gaining new momentum after Sept. 11 attacks, CW 10/12/01
  • White House Seeks Government Computer Network, AP 10/12/01
  • Notes

  • Security
  • United States Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology, NIST Special Publication 800-53, Revision 3 - Recommended Security Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations ,pdf May 2010
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication 800-61, Revision 1, Computer Security Incident Handling Guidepdf (Mar. 2008), 
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