The U.S. Department of Labor 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. The work is part of the Obama Administration’s continued commitment to improved accountability, transparency, and service to the American public.
“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 U.S. 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 the Labor Department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration posted worker fatality data on its Web site. Now, the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also systematically 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 online. 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 are also making additional information available to the public. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is contributing a vast array of new information, enhancing its already impressive searchable databases. The Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, meanwhile, recently launched a Web-based competition. It enlists entrepreneurs and technology firms, workforce professionals, and the public to help identify the best online tools to enable America’s job seekers to connect with jobs quickly and easily.
The department’s commitment to enhance participation also extends to the regulatory arena. On Monday, December 7, 2009 the department rolled out its regulatory agenda entirely online. All of the information—including more than eight hours of Web chats with the secretary of labor and other Department of Labor officials—can now be viewed here. 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.
The department also 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. Not content with one-way communication, however, the department is also using social media tools to engage the public online—and tapping into the power of crowd sourcing. In fact, the Department of Labor’s presence on Facebook and Twitter is already helping to link knowledge communities together and speeding up the sharing of valuable information among the department, state workforce agencies, a variety of stakeholders and, most importantly, the American public.