The last blow to the open government cause in the US federal government just came from the resignation of Aneesh Chopra as the US Government CTO and one of the driving forces behind the 2009 Open Government Directive. Last yeat his deputy, Beth Noveck left, followed a few months later by the US federal CIO Vivek Kundra. With Aneesh leaving, none of the minds behind the directive is left in office. Officially, this does not mean anything: Beth has been replaced by Chris Vein and Vivek by Steven VanRoekel, and there has been no word so far about winding down open government activities.
Open government supporters insist that the movement is alive and kicking, but it is fair to say that, if it is a revolution, it is going very slow and is testing the patience of those who are fighting with shrinking budgets and financial sustainability issues in government organizations around the world.
Taking a look at the open government plans published by US federal agencies, and the related dashboard, it is quite apparent that most plans have not been updated since their first version, and there is very little information about progress and what has been accomplished.
Of course there is still a lot enthusiasm elsewhere, and every week there are new jurisdictions joining the race to openness, but how long will that enthusiasm be maintained before open government delivers on its promise?
There is still a chance for open government to prove its value, before being marginalized, and it is to create a clear connection with problems that jurisdiction and agencies need to solve. This implies that open government must be redirected from simply increasing transparency to fighting crime and tax evasion, improving health and education, reducing the cost of government. And that open government experts do no longer limit themselves to enabling the wisdom of the crowd and the creativity of application developers, but take ownership of how open data can and will solve specific problems, and be accountable for those solutions.
But this is a completely different ball game, isn’t it?.