DOL Unveils New “Open Government” Efforts

Dec. 11, 2009
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced a broad array of efforts designed to improve the public’s accessibility to its agencies and ensure the department can function more effectively.

“True progress is not something that happens to people. It happens because of them. And, it all begins with information that can be shared in a timely and effective manner,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “People deserve to know what their government is doing on their behalf, and what they can do to participate actively in that work. I am proud of the steps we are taking to make that possible, and I look forward to broadening our efforts further.”

Previously, only MSHA posted worker fatality data on its Web site. Now, OSHA also systematically is publishing employer-specific information about occupational fatalities online and making these data available for easy download. Comprehensive, weekly reports on this topic are now available at https://www.osha.gov/dep/fatcat/dep_fatcat.html. Employers with reported fatalities will have an incentive to take steps to improve safety and prevent future accidents. In addition, responsible employers will be able to use the database to identify dangerous conditions and take precautions.

Other agencies at the department also are making additional information available to the public. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is contributing a vast array of new information to http://www.data.gov, enhancing its already impressive searchable databases. DOL’s Employment and Training Administration, meanwhile, recently launched a Web-based competition at http://www.dol.gov/challenge. It enlists entrepreneurs and technology firms, work force professionals and the public to help identify the best online tools to enable America’s job seekers to quickly and easily connect with jobs.

The department’s commitment to enhance participation also extends to the regulatory arena. On Dec. 7, DOL rolled out its regulatory agenda entirely online. All information – including more than 8 hours of Web chats with the secretary of labor and other DOL officials – can be viewed at http://www.dol.gov/regulations. The Web page also contains links to resources and testimonials, and it even helps visitors submit comments to specific regulations.

“As a legislator, I always felt it was essential for people to take part in the processes of their government. As a regulator, I feel exactly the same way,” added Solis.

DOL has launched a weekly e-newsletter, which offers readers the latest details in everything from the department’s enforcement and compliance assistance to job openings at its various agencies. DOL also is using social media tools to engage the public online. In fact, DOL’s presence on Facebook and Twitter already is helping to link knowledge communities together and speeding up the sharing of information among the department, state work force agencies, a variety of stakeholders and, most importantly, the American public.

About the Author

Laura Walter

Laura Walter was formerly senior editor of EHS Today. She is a subject matter expert in EHS compliance and government issues and has covered a variety of topics relating to occupational safety and health. Her writing has earned awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE), the Trade Association Business Publications International (TABPI) and APEX Awards for Publication Excellence. Her debut novel, Body of Stars (Dutton) was published in 2021.

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