Yesterday, which was my last day before a long-awaited Easter break, I reviewed the draft open government plan from a US federal agency. The plan was quite comprehensive, although a bit verbose (as if the authors were trying to convince themselves more than the readers), and tackled all the areas required by the Open Government Directive.
However a few elements were missing, and I suspect this will be the case for several other agencies too:
- Tenuous links to the agency’s strategic objectives (although they were made available as an annex)
- No mention of how success on any aspect of openness (transparency, participation, collaboration) would be measured
- Unclear distinction between government-wide initiatives and tools, and those that are specific to the agency
- No definition of “high-value” for data set and how to prioritize various open initiatives
- No link with social media strategy and no explicit of employees’ engagement on external social networks.
In my humble opinion, most if not all of the above are critical to make open government initiatives become part of the normal course of business, rather than an exception they need to comply with. Cynically, what the Obama administration needs to have in two years time are a few high-profile flagship open initiatives Ito claim success. On the other hand, if open government principles must be embedded into every agency’s processes and mindset, they need to do more than simply complying with what the directive asks them to do.
Gartner clients can take a look at the note How to Build an Open Government Plan (login required) for a suggested outline of their plans.