OpenGov End Goals


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Cross-posted from the Open Forum Foundation blog.

Maxine Teller and I had a brief conversation at GovLoop’s GovUp last night about what the goal of the OpenGov movement actually is (and how it’s currently rather ill-defined). As I’d been thinking along the same lines, I suggested that we start a public conversation around this idea and see what happens. This is the beginning of that.

As I am want to do, I’d like to start from a universal and very idealistic perspective. Therefore, I propose that our goal is not actually just to improve government, but that in fact we’re looking to improve society as a whole. Succinctly put, our actual goals are to create:

  1. citizens that are engaged in the activities of their governments, and
  2. governments that are efficient, effective, and responsive to the needs of their citizens.

Transparency, participation, and collaboration are necessary components of creating this, and while technology can help, we need to keep in mind that it’s only useful if it helps to meet these needs.

What do you think? What am I missing? Am I on track here or far afield?

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Bowen Moran

I think you’re on track, but my end goal is somewhat diffferent. The measurement of 1 and 2; the indication that they’ve really happened is that people care about the day-to-day operations of government, and public servants are proud of the work we do again. No one goes to a government service and expects bureaucracy and bumbling, but instead expects and recieves passionate, personalized and proactive service.

That’s my vision for the future.

Gov 2.0 Radio

Love it, and love Bowen’s addition. I tweeted from my office’s account today a great picture of SF City Hall, and someone did a RT and a mocking “your tax dollars at work” due to the grandiosity of the building. But it’s not your tax dollars “at work” – it’s YOUR BUILDING. There was a time in our country when more understood that, or we wouldn’t have all the common property we enjoy today.

Avatar photo Bill Brantley

I think you are on track and you might want to consider the concept of monitory democracy into the OpenGov end goals.

“In the age of monitory democracy, in contrast to the earlier eras of assembly democracy and representative democracy in territorial state form, many new mechanisms are mixed and combined with new ways of publicly monitoring and controlling the exercise of power. . .[F]or a variety of reasons that are related to public pressure and the need to reduce corruption and the abuse of power, conventional representative forms of democracy are coming to be supplemented (and hence complicated) by a variety of democratic innovations that are applied to organizations underneath and beyond governments. Others include public integrity mechanisms, congresses, blogging and other new forms of media scrutiny, as well as cross-border parliaments and open methods of co-ordination, of the kind practiced in the European Union. These inventions are unique to the age of monitory democracy, and they fundamentally alter both the political geometry and dynamics of democracy.”

It seems that OpenGov is necessary whether government chooses to lead the OpenGov movement or have it forced upon government by its citizens.

Alberto Cottica

Hello Wayne. Nicely put, and I concur. I would also state that many, if not all, services produce users; that consultants produce clients; etcetera. There is also a feedback loop, from users, clients and citizens back to the service or policy.

Usually the loop starts on the supply end. With government activities, my experience is that you need to start making government better; citizens do not usually demand it (they complain, a lot, but that’s not the same thing). Once they try it, if you’ve done your job well they are hooked, and they will enforce the new, higher quality level in their interaction with agencies.

(Are you coming to PDF Europe this year?)

Mary Ann Rosenberry

I agree with the ideal, but also understand the issues that can arise from too much openess. Government is political and politicians make changes by the process of give-and-take. With constituents in the room, legislative folks a less likely to engage in the process because they do not want to look like they are giving something away (and harming their chances at re-election). Each person (reps and constituents) brings to the table their own agendas and their own beliefs. No matter how altruistic. How do you reconcile what you believe is best for all and what I believe is best for all? Compromise. The movement toward openess comes from the belief is that if you educate the public in the process and involve them in decisions that you will have the most applicable outcome – one that is connected to the public that is served. But sometimes what we want and what is actually best for the whole are two different things. Some of this discrepancy/void can be solved by leaders effectively guiding constituents, but then we come back full circle.