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

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

I’d encourage you to check out the 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 Government can improve operations at all levels of government. The briefing includes case studies from government employees and how they have improved internal processes and public services.

Much of the conversation on open government today revolves around how agencies are deriving value from open government initiatives. A challenge for agencies is to show how they are making their business case for open government in a time of tight budgets. Regardless of the budgetary environment, the brief shows how OpenGov initiatives are critical to developing a more efficient government, capable of delivering much needed services to citizens. Likewise, the briefing shows how technology can be leveraged to improve agency functions.

President Obama has certainly championed open government initiatives. President Obama’s three staples of open government, a more transparent, participatory and collaborative government, has entered the open government vernacular.

The push for a more open government by President Obama has lead to dozens of programs designed to promote a more open government. The OpenText briefing identified five impacts of open government:

1. Preserve permanent records and historical documents electronically

By digitizing documents, citizens have access to documents to digitally, like presidential speeches. The briefing highlighted that the National Archives and Records Administration receives nearly 475 million pages of records per year.

2. Improve Citizen-Serving Processes and Procedures

The briefing mentions how FOIA requests have been dramatically improved with the use of open government technologies. With improve technology, citizens can quickly access documents through FOIA requests.

3. Simplify the e-Discovery Process

By establishing proper procedures to save and identify resources, agencies can protect themselves legally if they are every sued for obstructing information.

4. Create an Audit Trail

Failing an audit would be a nightmare for any government agency – the briefing states “An open government solution eases this stress by centrally locating information for retrieval.”

5. Spur Innovation

The idea behind spurring innovation that the briefing mentions is very much in line with the idea of government as a platform. Government needs to understand that to solve some of the most complex problems in government, government cannot do it alone. Allowing developers and programmers access to data, provides the opportunity for numerous exciting and innovative projects.

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.

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