OOOG Ratings – OpenAustralia

Originally published here

I’m going to take a break from coding to try something new.

I blogged about the OOOG Rating system I’d come up with earlier and I thought I would take it for a test drive against a real live project. For this first OOOG Rating exercise I thought I would pick on one of the brighter shining stars in the Australian Gov2.0 Night Sky, Open Australia.

For those of you who may not be aware, Open Australia is a project run with the aim of opening up the process of Government from the outside in. Inspired by the UK project theyworkforyou.com, the project is best described by the following passage from their web site:

“For all its faults and foibles, our democracy is a profound gift from previous generations. Yet most people don’t know the name of their representative, let alone what they do or say in their name.

We aim to help bridge this growing democratic disconnect, in the belief that there is little wrong with Parliament that a healthy mixture of transparency and public engagement won’t fix.”

So let’s have a look at Open Australia and see how they fair on the OOOG Ratings.

Open source: 9/10

From the start, the Open Australia project has both relied upon and contributed to Open Source software. The code for the site is publically available under a BSD Style license, while the code for the web scraper/parser is available under the GNU Affero General Public License.

They have a publically available bug tracker, using the closed source JIRA Issue Tracking System cost them a point here, but as far as I can see that’s the only part of the system that relies on closed source software.

Open standards: 10/10

As with Open source, Open Australia relies on and promotes the use of Open Standards, both in document formats and on the wire communications.

Aside from their site adhereing as closely as possible to international web standards, all documents are in PDF format, each MP has their own RSS feed and the Open Australia project has adapted the theyworkforyou API to their own needs, meaning that third parties can now create new services based on Open Australias information. Even if you don’t feel like working with their API you can access the xml generated by their scraper directly.

If there’s an open way of communicating information, Open Australia either has it covered, or is planning to cover it soon.

Open Government: 10/10

Open Government is everything that Open Australia is about. The whole reason that Open Australia exists is to open up the process of Government to the people. It’s doing a pretty good job of it as well.

Final Score: 29/30

The only place the Open Australia project lost a point was in Open source through the use of the JIRA Issue tracker. However, that being said, they are certainly using it to it’s fullest potential and in the long run it’s supporting the development of Open Source Software, Open Standards and Open Government.

On a personal note, I truly do appreciate the amount of time and effort that the Open Australia crew have put into the project. The fact that they are building a truly open store of information about the way our Governments work should be celebrated.

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