Big Blue guide to implementing open government

An Open Government Implementation Model: Moving to Increased Public EngagementFinally got around to reading the IBM Center for the Business of Government’s guide to implementing open government and wanted to share highlights. The report, An Open Government Implementation Model: Moving to Increased Public Engagement, was written by professors Young Hoon Kwak (The George Washington University) and Gwanhoo Lee (American University), and their research is based on 5 case studies from within the Department of Health and Human Services.

Below are the phases (with select excerpts), challenges and recommendations identified in the report.

4 stages to implementing open government

Open Government Implementation Model

1. Increasing Data Transparency

As the Pareto Principle (i.e., the 80/20 Rule) suggests, agencies should focus on the top 20 percent of their data that would most benefit the public. To do so, agencies need to put in place an effective governance structure and process to formally identify relevant data, assure its quality, and publish it in a timely manner. Data quality is extremely critical as low quality data may misinform and mislead the public about government work and performance. Once unreliable data is published and shared, it is very difficult to recall the information without causing damage to the agencies’ reputation and to the public’s trust of the agencies.

2. Improving Open Participation

It is important for agencies at this stage to build the capability to respond to the public’s feedback in a timely and consistent manner. This capability requires formal processes, coordination mechanisms, and government employees dedicated to responding to public comments.

3. Enhancing Open Collaboration

The Pareto Principle or the 80/20 Rule applies not only to Stage One but also to Stages Two and Three. Agencies at Stages One to Three should not try to implement everything; they should only select high- value, high-impact initiatives and focus on strengthening what is working rather than worrying too much about what is not working.

4. Realizing Ubiquitous Engagement

Agencies at Stage Four put an effective governance structure and process in place to enable continuous improvement and innovation of public engagement programs. Furthermore, the agencies, the public, the private sector, and other stakeholders form and nurture a sustainable ecosystem and a virtuous cycle for effective public engagement.


  1. Federal budget cycle and lack of resources
  2. Changing organizational culture
  3. Ensuring the quality of data
  4. Increasing public interest and engagement
  5. Balancing autonomy and control
  6. Ensuring accountability and responsibility in open collaboration
  7. Improving information technology infrastructure
  8. Enhancing privacy and information security
  9. Integrating open government tools and applications
  10. Updating federal policies and rules


  1. Use a phased implementation approach
  2. Use a democratic, bottom-up approach
  3. Consider conducting pilot projects and/or establishing centers for excellence
  4. Secure necessary resources
  5. Prioritize the use of the 80/20 rule
  6. Align open government initiatives with the agency’s goals
  7. Establish governance mechanisms for data sharing
  8. Expand the number of metrics over time
  9. Address cultural barriers
  10. Make public engagement an everyday routine
  11. Institutionalize incentives
  12. Establish enterprise architecture early in the process
  13. Integrate public engagement applications
  14. Develop communities of practice
  15. Develop and communicate a government-wide strategy

Download full report (pdf)

About Luke Fretwell

Luke Fretwell is the founder of GovFresh, co-founder/CEO of ProudCity and co-host of the podcast, The Government We Need. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or email at

7 Responses

  1. Jaclyn

    What about our DO NOTHING for the American people CONGRESS these past 10 years?
    I see something about the White House-What about the rest?


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