Blog post

How to Build an Open Government Plan

By Andrea Di Maio | February 01, 2010 | 1 Comment

open government data

I have just published a research note with this title for Gartner clients (login required) and I am toying with the idea of arranging a webinar open to a broader audience to have a conversation about this topic.

Here are a few excerpts from the document:

The Open Government Directive requires all U.S. agencies to produce a first draft of an Open Government Plan by early April 2010. While many agencies may be tempted to take a compliance attitude, this is a unique opportunity for them to reflect on the value of engagement to better meet their mission goals, and either initiate or accelerate initiatives in this important area.


This research provides advice about how to comply with this requirement of the directive, taking into account the relatively short time available to create a plan, the fact that it must be developed within the current budget envelope, and the importance of using the development of the plan as an opportunity to carry out a sustainable set of transparency, participation and collaboration activities.

My point is that, as the deadline is pretty close, some may be tempted to do the bare minimum and stick to what is required, as opposed to make this something that is valuable for them.

The note builds on the distinction I made in a previous post between participation and collaboration, for which I have used slightly different definitions as a result of our peer review process as well as of comments received through the blog

[…] Two different types of participation:

  • Ongoing (or continuous) participation, in order for members of the public to comment in general about the agency activities
  • Issue-based (or focused) participation, where the public is explicitly invited to provide feedback on specific events, topics or draft policies

[…] Two types of collaboration:

  • Proactive (or top-down) collaboration concerns initiatives that are driven by the agency (or by another government agency) where the scope for collaboration from external stakeholders is somewhat constrained. Examples include crowdsourcing a problem resolution to the public.
  • Reactive (or bottom-up) collaboration concerns initiatives that are started by external stakeholders and are mostly self-organized. In this case, the agency needs to be aware that they exist and seek ways to add value.

One other point is the need for a framework helping agencies assess value, cost and risk of open data, to better decide and prioritize how to make them available

The framework to determine the value of public information and how datasets will be prioritized for publication should also specify the intended audience, the value for that audience (as opposed to the value for the agency or for the general public), and the associated costs and risks


While examples of value are reported in the [open government] directive , it is advisable that agencies use a value framework that explicitly covers dimensions such as “constituent value,” “operational efficiency” and “mission alignment (or political return).”
The total cost of ownership of open data includes the cost to locate it, deidentify it (if it contains personal information or refers to it), transform it into an open format, update it and possibly retire it.
Risks include possible misuse by third parties and obsolescence.

The development of a value framework for open data is what I am currently working on.

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1 Comment

  • liberTIC says:

    You are about to launch the tool I was looking for. Itl would definitely be an asset to motivate local authorities to get in the gov20 move.

    My only two references regarding ROI on open data are:

    Catalonia application in Spain

    And the study

    Can’t wait for a webinar 🙂