Americans are demanding more transparency and accountability from their governments at all levels, goals that are easier to achieve when governments have made a commitment to operating transparently and making public information truly open and accessible to the public. Government Transparency: Six Strategies for More Open and Participatory Government, a policy paper by Jon Gant and Nicol Turner-Lee, calls on state and local governments to adopt six sensible strategies to accelerate the trend toward open government. The strategies focus on enhancing government expertise and transparency, educating citizens regarding the availability and utility of government information and e-government tools, expanding efforts to support greater adoption of broadband Internet access services and devices, and forging public-private-citizen partnerships in order to enhance open government solutions. (Download PDF or Read Online)
The Six Strategies include:
- Convene a working group of chief information and technology leaders to determine more effective technical and operational procedures that mitigate change environments for open government;
- Create opportunities for developing public goods applications that are sustainable through public-private partnerships or philanthropic investments;
- Establish more flexible procurement procedures, off-the-shelf purchasing and easier contracting for the technologies used to disseminate government information;
- Improve broadband access to community anchor institutions;
- Create government content that is relevant and accessible to all populations regardless of ability, language or literacy level; and
- Promote public-private partnerships for professional development to enhance skill-building, technical expertise and forward-thinking processes within government.
“The purpose of these strategies is to provide a framework for facilitating these activities and placing government entities on the proper pathway toward the full realization of the benefits of information transparency,” note the authors in the paper. Adopting these strategies will enable state and local governments to tap into the expertise and innovative spirit of the public to create new “public goods” apps and community information resources. The authors further observe that “to focus exclusively on the one-way push of information by government to the public is to miss the promise of innovative e-government techniques designed to transform this dynamic into a mutually beneficial, two-way collaboration.”
Government Transparency: Six Strategies for More Open and Participatory Government explores the evolution of transparency and open government policies and the important role that broadband technologies play in moving beyond analog-era notions of transparency. It also addresses the practical barriers that stand in the way of realizing the full value of open government, including design flaws in open government tools, inadequate broadband access and adoption among the public, misunderstanding public demands for information, and legal constraints.
Dr. Jon Gant is a Fellow at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a leading scholar in the field of information systems and public administration, and has advised governments in the U.S. and developing countries on building geographic information systems.
Dr. Nicol Turner-Lee is Vice President and Director of the Media and Technology Institute at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, D.C. She has produced path breaking research on broadband adoption among minority and disadvantaged populations and regularly engages city, state and federal legislators on issues in telecommunications, open government and the emerging technology innovation sectors.
Government Transparency: Six Strategies for More Open and Participatory Government is the fourth policy paper released by the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation aimed at implementing the 15 recommendations by the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy. (See other published papers on Rethinking Public Media, Digital and Media Literacy, Universal Broadband and Creating Local Online Hubs). The Commission released its landmark report, Informing Communities, in October 2009 to help promote healthy informed communities across the country.
A White Paper by Jon Gant and Nicol Turner-Lee
The Knight Commission Recommendation
Open Government and Transparency in the Broadband Age
Beyond Mere Transparency: How Broadband Technologies Impact Openness and E-Governance at the Local, State and Federal Levels
Barriers to Realizing the Full Value of Open Government
Call to Governments: Six Strategies for Enhancing Transparency and Community Information
Who Should Do What