I just read that Beth Noveck, Obama administrations’s Deputy CTO in charge for open government, stepped down to return to her teaching position at New York Law School. Beth was instrumental to the White House activities around the Open Government Directive.
If the current state of open government in the federal government is a testament to her achievements, I have to say that this reminds me of her book, Wiki Government, which I read shortly after its publication.
The book is dominated by the story of PeerToPatent, the crowdsourcing of patent applications that was successfully ventured by the US Patent and Trademark Office and can be seen as Beth’s baby.
Now, for how interesting PeerToPatent is, my impression was that the book is too much about celebrating that story, and too little about understanding the critical issues behind open government and how to make it work in practice.
This is exactly the way I feel about where open government is today in the US federal government. Great concept, a directive to kick the ball, a few agencies doing good things but most still scratching their heads about how to do something more than complying with what the directive asked them to do.
I do not know what role Beth had in the original conception and implementation of the open government directive. But it looks like she is great at conceptualizing and maybe less at leading, which is not surprising for a university professor.
Since it seems that the position is vacant now, I do hope that whoever will replace Beth will have the profile, and will be given a clear mandate, to take open government to the next level: which is to become a tool for agencies to be more effective and efficient, not just to tick the transparency box.
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