My eGov Santa Wish #4: It’s the Local Government, Stupid!

This is a crosspost of

Dear Santa,

I’ve saved the best wish for last:

Santa and his Reindeers (Max, 1 year - inspired by Picasso)
Santa and his Reindeer (Max, 1 year – inspired by Picasso)

But before I go more into detail, I want to let you know that, despite the title of this article, I am very excited about all things that are currently happening under the Obama administration. I am impressed by the vision on Open Government, the speed how things are implemented and the Open Government Directive that was recently published. Who could imagine and a year ago? Thumbs up for the Obama administration, Vivek, Aneesh and their team, you’re my hero’s!

It is not only because of the apps and the technology. Most important is the underlying value that a Government can only be trusted and held accountable for it’s deed if government data is open and accessible for everyone. With that vision, the Obama administration shows moral leadership.

However – and this is a big one-, all effort currently is focused on opening up the federal government and is capacity-driven (we have a lot of data, let’s make it available). From the perspective of a citizen, my interaction with the government is mainly on a local level: what is happening in my town next week, how do I get a dog license, my neighbor is building an extra floor on his house – what can I do, where can I get a H1N1 shot, can I make a campfire in the forest etc.

It looks like the Local Government and a “Demand Driven” (what does a citizen want) approach are not embedded in the Open Government vision now, while for most Americans local government it is the most important governmental organization for their day to day things! To put it in other words: how is all this stuff going to make my day-to-day business with the local government easier, faster and cheaper?

I really understand that the Fed eGov team has limited power over local government, but there are things that can be done with high impact:

  1. Give Local Government a prominent place in the Open Government Vision.
  2. Add a demand-driven or citizen centered approach to the Open Government Vision: how are we going to grow to an One Stop Government
  3. Work with state government to make local government websites accessible (preferable enforced by law)
  4. Start a nationwide benchmark including ALL government organizations

Well Santa, that’s it for this year. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and see what 2010 will bring.

Next year, I will ask for something simpler, like world peace, a solution for our energy problem or a clean and sustainable world.

In the next weeks, we are going to post more about accessibility, social media, crowd surfing and Open Data in Government.

This is a series of 4 Santa Wishes for a better e-Government:
-eGov Santa Wish #1: enforce web accessibility for local government.
-eGov Santa Wish #2: an One Stop Government.
-eGov Santa Wish #3: benchmark all Government websites
-eGov Santa Wish #4: It’s the Local Government, Stupid!

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I’m with you and think that local government is where a lot of the action will be over the next few years. The government actions that truly affect my life happen at the local level- the school board meeting, the highway expansion, the light rail debate – and that has a great power to open up to citizens with new technologies.

AJ Malik

As I understand it, Gov 1.0, the one-way, “government oriented first-stop-shop” evolves into Gov 2.0, the bilateral, “citizen oriented one-stop-shop,” in turn into Gov 3.0 which will entail multi-lateral government service portals – for citizens/residents, businesses, other governments, etc., in order to seamlessly provide intelligent, customized services anywhere, anytime. Gov 3.0 will be a semantic web-based government that personalizes and “intelligenizes” all government services according to the conditions and preferences of each requestor.