For those not following Dan on Twitter, you should be. He’s one of the smartest behind-the-scenes people in the open government/Gov 2.0 community (and really, really funny).
An interesting post. I think part of the issue here is that funders are almost naturally agenda-driven, so many of their activities tend to address the entrenched interests of the foundation, rather than the frustrations of governments or citizens. Stumbling upon some random app that fulfills a niche is no different than finding some Web site the government created that fulfills that same niche. Transferring the same old problem to a new platform isn’t going to get the job done.
I don’t think we all agree that open source is the answer. I don’t think we all agree than an app economy is the answer, either. Or mobile. Or whatever. We don’t agree on much at all. What we agree on is this: government should find ways to be radically more effective in accomplishing its mission. It’s just not just about delivering citizen services, or putting an app in the hands of a citizen. An app doesn’t help me attend a meeting of the City’s parking & transportation board while I’m 750 miles away on vacation, and it doesn’t help the disabled veteran talk to the city about his/her particular transportation needs (and he/she certainly can’t get to the meeting if the City’s services aren’t addressing those needs).
We’re not supposed to be talking about the value of open government. We’re supposed to be talking about the value of “open” in the context of the mission. We’ve lost the business transformation thread of this whole process. And that’s why wrong-headed investments occur.
The most important thing that happened at the Open Innovator’s Toolkit unveiling on Aneesh’s last day was when Todd Park sat there and said, “Too often, we’re focused on the app.” The story he related was this notion that a 68 year old recently discharged from the hospital probably isn’t interested in finding an app and flipping through some icons on his/her iPad to figure out their after care options for transportation, etc. You know who needs that information? The nurse. So let’s start delivering information to the right person at the right time – that’s the value of open gov.