By tomorrow, on April 7th, US federal agencies are expected to publish their first ever open government plans highlighting how they will become more transparent, participative and collaborative.
In the next few days there will be considerable discussion about who has the best and most comprehensive plan, who is lagging behind, what are the most exciting flagship initiatives proposed, how the IdeaScale tool drove new levels of creativity.
While I am absolutely positive that, despite the tight timeframe and the lack of additional resources, the Open Government Directive has had a great impact on how agencies look at the whole issue of transparency, I remain concerned about the long-lasting nature of this impact.
Unless agencies clearly turn these additional costs to their advantage and plan for returning on the openness investment rather than just complying with requirements, open government may not last. On the other hand, unless the Office of Management and Budget or some other powerful watchdog keeps the open government plans on course, by linking their performance to overall agency budgets, open government may not last.
The next challenge for the White House and open government supporters after counting the plans the day after tomorrow and celebrating their first success, will be to strike the right balance between the carrot and the stick.