Flagship Initiatives Shine in Open Government Plans

Ever since Open Government Day – the 120 day deadline in the OGD when agencies had to release Open Government Plans – I’ve been pouring over them hoping to get a better understanding of how openness is going to be implemented. If we are to judge government openness by the barrage of documents we received last Wednesday, then we open government advocates ought to be very happy! But what are these documents made of, anyway? A word cloud illustrates it quite well – all the buzzwords that you would expect: Information, government, data, open, public.

Open source matters to open government. Really.

“Open source and open government are not the same,” I’ve been reading recently. When discussing the role of open standards in open government transparency projects, Bob Caudill at Adobe, is concerned that open source and open standards are being conflated. He likes open standards just fine, but …

Introducing Sunlight Live

As the Open Government Directive was announced in a live webcast back in December, Sunlight tried something a little different by covering the event live in a variety of formats at once.

As is a norm around here, we basically just got a lot of people in a room, tried a bunch of stuff and paid attention to what seemed to work. At the end of the announcement we simultaneously had a tweet stream from across the open government community going, a live blog, and a Google Wave. We threw the obligatory word cloud at it, sent email blasts, and followed up with blog posts about the Directive’s many components.

It was fun and seemed to be pretty effective. And it also got us thinking …

What the Open Government Directive Means for Open Source

On the heels of the Open Government Memo of January 21st, 2009, the Obama Administration has issued the Open Government Directive. The Directive tells agencies what they must do to meet the expectations set by the Memo. The directive names many deadlines for agency compliance, most of them around reducing FOIA backlogs and increasing the amount of agency data released to the public. This isn’t surprising, since the Memo names transparency, collaboration, and participation as the guiding principles. Transparency is the easiest to articulate and implement — just get the data out there in a useful form. Josh Tauberer’s Open Data is Civic Capital: Best Practices for “Open Government Data” is an excellent handbook for doing this. If you want to track agencies’ progress, the Sunlight Labs folks have produced the outstanding Open Watcher.

White House announces ‘Open Government Directive’

The White House today announced its Open Government Directive, instructing agencies to open their operations to the public and providing a framework for doing so. The directive was accompanied by a Open Government Progress Report to the American People.

From the White House:

The three principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration are at the heart of this directive. Transparency promotes accountability. Participation allows members of the public to contribute ideas and expertise to government initiatives. Collaboration improves the effectiveness of government by encouraging partnerships and cooperation within the federal government, across levels of government, and between the government and private institutions.

Gov 2.0 Radio: Fix It?

We discuss what’s working and what’s not in government with retired career fed Stephen Buckley and collaboration consultant Brian Drake. Drake is planning the Government 2.0 #FAIL workshop, while Buckley, who in the ’90s managed a 1,000 member “Reinventing Government” listserv, is working on an unconference around the forthcoming Open Government Directive.