Open for Business: Leveraging Open Government to Improve Agency Operations, Part 2

This is the second post in a three part series about the newly released Open Text report, Open For Business: Leveraging Open Government to Improve Agency Operations.

I’d encourage you to check out the newly released open government analyst briefing by the Government Business Council, the research arm of Government Executive magazine, and OpenText. The report includes a high-level overview of the current state of open government, what it means, and how open gov can improve operations. Government employees share how they’ve improved internal processes and public services.

The briefing touches on a few factors that contribute to a successful open government plan. The briefing does not cover just Federal open government initiatives mandated by the Open Government Executive Order, it also includes examples of state and local uses of open government.

One of the points in the briefing is the importance of culture and have buy-in from top officials and citizens. The briefing highlights three factors of bringing open government into an agency:

1 – Feasibility

The briefing identifies that prior to implementing any kind of open government challenge, agencies must have a very good understanding of their internal data. The briefing also acknowledges the importance of performing an inventory of services already available to taxpayers and be sure that through any government initiative, you are not automating an inefficient process.

Information technology organizations serve internal clients accustomed to quick and easy consumer solutions, who may assume technology at work can also bend to their needs. IT managers must work to accommodate users, but not bend to inefficient business processes, says an IT manager at a state transportation agency.

2 – Cost Effectiveness

Cost savings is one of the primary incentives towards open government. The briefing highlights how government agencies, at all levels, are “drowning in paper.” Agencies can find savings by transforming paper files to digital. Another strategy, which has been talked about numerous times at the federal level, is consolidating .gov websites. Consolidation federal websites will help agencies cut costs, and also increase many customer service initiatives.

3 – Security

Maintaining security is a challenge of open government initiatives. Security needs to be a primary concern when launching any new open government initiative. The briefing gives an insightful analysis on how classifying documents can sometimes make us less safe.

In pursuing openness, it is critical that agencies strike a balance between the accessibility and security of data. Governments have a tendency to classify documents as a default, but some experts say over-classification can make us less safe. It contributed to the government’s failure to prevent the attacks of September 11, according to 9/11 Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste. “Much more information needs to be declassified,” he testified before Congress in 2005. “A great deal of information should never be classified at all.”

The briefing holds a lot of great information about open government. If you would like to read the brief in its entirety, I would encourage you to take a look here.

Previous Posts:

Open For Business: Leveraging Open Government to Improve Agency Operations, Part I

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