The Open Government Directive (OGD) was issued on December 8th, 2009, by the administration of President Obama. The document states:
“The three principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration form the cornerstone of an open government.”
It is around these three core attributes that the directive is focused.
On this first year anniversary I wanted to take a moment and share my thoughts on how well the US Government has done in terms of OGD and in regards to moving the needle regarding open government overall. This is clearly subjective on my part and it is my hope that the Whitehouse will take this opportunity to provide a more objective score.
The scorecard is built using the following breakdown:
- Goal Setting: 30%
- Clear Strategies and Measurements of Success: 20%
- Leadership Education and Approaches: 20%
- Personnel Communication, Training, Retention: 20%
- Use of Technology: 10%
My individual and overall grades, with brief explanation, follow.
Image via Wikipedia
I struck a nerve around open data, as I mentioned in my earlier article, when I stated that “XML is simply a markup language, a container for data. Is it one of the most preferred containers? Absolutely. However, open government data is not synonymous with XML. Open government data is simply government-owned data that can be mined in order to create useful information. It can be in XML, PDF, text files, print outs, etc… The key point is that the data is being released for others to use to create value from it, not the format that it is released in”.
Initial comments on twitter argued that open data had to be XML, then opened up to being any open, non-proprietary format. For developers I would absolutely agree that this makes sense. It’s much easier for developers to work with open formats like CSV and XML vs. proprietary formats like PDF. Developers, however, are not the leaders of open government.
According to ITWire, Gartner Analyst Andrea DiMaio recently gave Government 2.0 a failing grade, noting that all nations “seemed to have missed the point”. He clarified further on Twitter stating that he:
Image by hans.gerwitz via Flickr
“never said “fail”, said that challenges & real benefits are in employee 2.0, not a prty for many”
Sometimes editors jazz up the headlines to make articles more compelling than the speaker intended. Andrea is right, however, when he states that we have a lot of work to do and that successes have not been across the board. Successes still occur more often in pockets rather than across the board and are driven by passionate, well-meaning, technology types instead of being driven by top-down goal-oriented approaches.
I would simply state that Government 2.0 is in its infancy. We must harness the energy and passion shown by those that are being successful and focus it on achieving the highest priority goals first. All of those leading the charge, driving Government in Action, need to remain focused and recognize that they are appreciated. The early results are what is needed to continue the evolution.
John F. Moore
Government in the Lab