On August 8 the US Federal CTO Aneesh Chopra published a blog post about the future direction of the federal open government initiative. The post praises the current initiative (and data.gov in particular), makes reference to the international efforts started with the Open Government Partnership, and asks three questions to gather input from external stakeholders:
- How can regulations.gov, one of the primary mechanisms for government transparency and public participation, be made more useful to the public rulemaking process?
- OMB is beginning the process of reviewing and potentially updating its Federal Web Policy. What policy updates should be included in this revision to make Federal websites more user-friendly and pertinent to the needs of the public?
- How can we build on the success of Data.Gov and encourage the use of democratized data to build new consumer-oriented products and services?
The first one is about participation in policy-making. The second one is about transparency and better accessibility of information online. The third one is about leveraging open data for consumers-
Isn’t there something missing?
Indeed there is. Those questions make no reference to specific problems to solve, or to the use of open data inside government, or the empowerment of government employees as driving forces in dialogues aimed to increased efficiency and sustainable service delivery. In a nutshell there is nothing about steering open government toward addressing the huge sustainability challenges that the US (and other governments) are already facing and will face more and more in the future. Open government remains in its comfort zone, in the “nice to have” category, something to comply with rather than build upon.
While early comments seem positive, I wonder whether there will be any voices raised to make sure open government becomes something else than a solution in search of a problem, or a solution to problems that may be dwarfed by much bigger ones.