Local Open Government Directive: Building Transparency, Participation, and Collaboration

Just one year ago, Kevin Curry started the CityCamp movement to bring together local government officials, government employees, private sector technology experts, journalists, and citizens to share perspectives and insights about the cities in which they live and to develop practices for making their city governments more transparent, participatory, collaborative, and accountable.

In December 2010, I was proud to work with Kevin, Brian Gryth, Sean Hudson, Michele Hovet, Alissa Black, and Nicole Aro to organize CityCamp Colorado. During the camp, Kevin, Brian, Alissa, and I began developing a model Local Open Government Directive that cities and counties can use to promote transparency, participation, and collaboration in their governments. We modified, tailored, and improved the U.S. Open Government Directive for local government and, after the camp, we expanded the drafting process to about 30 more experts and supporters of the open government movement.

The Local Open Government Directive provides specific guidance for a city, county, or state government to develop information and data sharing practices, enhance and expand citizen participation opportunities, and collaborate with government employees, other government agencies, private sector experts, and the public.

The opportunities for transparency, participation, and collaboration described in the directive are becoming increasingly possible and efficient thanks to Internet technology and people’s desire to reclaim our government. People are no longer accepting the information government holds about us, our schools, our businesses, etc. being held behind government walls. People are no longer accepting 3-minute opportunities to speak at a city council meeting on a weekday afternoon as an opportunity to participate. People will no longer accept government officials forcing their decisions about the people’s lives without being involved in the process.

The model Local Open Government Directive is intended to be an executive initiated order or directive to the local government under the executive’s legal authority. An executive leader, such as a mayor, should use this model to adopt a directive for the city to help institutionalize open government principles within the city government.

In partnership with OpenPlans, we are hosting the directive at opengovernmentinitative.org. There, you can view and download the directive and share it with others.

In addition, our friends at the Sunlight Foundation have created a site where you can sign up to show your support for this effort. Please sign up!

In the upcoming weeks and months, we will be reaching out to government officials to build support for the directive and to implement the directive in local governments.

If you’re interested in participating in the open government movement, please join our Open Government Initiative group.

Finally, I’d like to thank all of the people I’ve been fortunate to work with through CityCamp Colorado and the Open Government Directive. Kevin, Brian, Sean, Michele, Alissa, Nicole, Phil Ashlock, and many others are some of the most motivated, hard-working, brilliant people I’ve had the pleasure to work with.

Cheers to the future of our government!

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Daniel Honker

Great post, Scott, and congratulations. It’s very promising to see local govs building tools to help the entire system, particularly since the local level is where so much of the benefit of Gov 2.0 (and gov in general) can be felt.

Having worked at a city hall, I love this:

People are no longer accepting 3-minute opportunities to speak at a city council meeting on a weekday afternoon as an opportunity to participate.


I’m all for gettin the information the government has about me available to me. But the web has not proven yet that it will protect that info from others. This is a reason to be quite cautious about government on the web. I like renewing my tags and license online and seeing my homeowners tax bill online, but who else can see it is what bothers me.

Also, open government, enabled by web-tools is vulnerable, even more than now, to allow idle agitators who try to change the status quo (which most of us desire) while the rest of the productive, busy, and constructive citizens count on the status quo – efficient or not, stable is better than changing if you are trying to build anything like a business, a home, a family. Regular defense of a government system has value especially when greviences are valid and popular, but continual defense against a realtively small group of technologically equippped agitators who don’t represent the norm is not what most citizens want to spend energy on.