A Smarter, More Efficient, More Transparent Labor Department

Filed in Workforce Development, Workplace Rights by on March 15, 2011 1 Comment

Open government is not just a slogan or a policy position.  It is a powerful management tool.

The Labor Department has strived to be a leader in responding to President Obama’s call for an unprecedented level of openness and transparency throughout the administration.  These efforts not only strengthen our engagement with our employees, stakeholders, and the public – they make our Department more efficient, effective, and accountable.

Our searchable enforcement database contain mountains of data from MSHA, OSHA, WHD and other enforcement agencies.  These data help our agencies operate more efficiently by targeting sectors that require the most attention and identifying patterns and trends in enforcement.  These initiatives allow the Department to do business in a smarter way, and better leverage our resources.

Releasing this data has also empowered the public to engage with the Labor Department’s enforcement activities.  We’ve invited the academic community to comb through this data, analyze it, and tell us what they find.  The more information we release, the more our stakeholders feel equipped to participate in substantive dialogue with DOL, and aid in the process.

Our latest regulatory agenda continues this trend.  We’ve emphasized disclosure for both our regulated communities and our own Department. EBSA’s fee disclosure for pension plans and OSHA’s modernization of record keeping both seek to enlist regulated communities and stakeholders while helping the Department achieve widespread compliance with the laws we administer.  In an environment where the needs, expectations, and challenges for American workers are constantly changing, this type of engagement isn’t just beneficial – it’s essential.

We’ve launched an interactive grants map on the DOL web site to focus attention on greater transparency in the distribution of federal funds.  The map allows users to see where and how DOL grants are impacting their communities, and bring problems and issues to the Department’s attention for quick resolution.  In the near future, the Department plans to release information about effective grant applications, so applicants can see how to best tailor their applications for success.

Finally, our focus on openness and transparency greatly expands the community from which the Department can generate ideas on how to better conduct business.  Within our organization, it allows employees at all levels to observe the bigger picture beyond their daily operations.  We’ve solicited input from staff on how to operate more efficiently, and received recommendations on proposed cost savings.  Outside DOL, we’ve engaged the public more than ever before.

As we celebrate Sunshine Week this year it is more important than ever that government leverage limited resources and do more with less. Transparency isn’t an option, it’s a requirement. The steps we’ve taken aren’t just about accountability.  They’re also about creating a more agile, more efficient, and more effective Department of Labor.

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  1. Alan says:

    Clearly the government needs to do more to make itself more efficient. “Greater transparency in the distribution of federal funds” is a laudable first step, but I have never worked for a business that didn’t have 100% transparency and so should the government. In todays economy, I don’t think we can expect anything less.

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