ExpertLabs: The future of open government is citizen-focused

On Monday, the White House asked for ideas on the National Plan for open government in the Open Government Partnership. (For background on the initiative, read this digest on Open Government Partnership analysis for context.) Specifically, the White House asked for feedback on ideas related to two of the key challenges from the OGP: improving public services and increasing public integrity.

  • How can regulations.gov, one of the primary mechanisms for government transparency and public participation, be made more useful to the public rulemaking process?
  • OMB is beginning the process of reviewing and potentially updating its Federal Web Policy. What policy updates should be included in this revision to make Federal websites more user-friendly and pertinent to the needs of the public?
  • How can we build on the success of Data.Gov and encourage the use of democratized data to build new consumer-oriented products and services?

Today, Clay Johnson offered the White House a deep set of recommendations for open government in response to the three questions it posed, including better ways to use open data, social media, improving regulations, public comment, and the developer community better. If you’re interested in open government, it’s a must-read.

We believe the future of open government is citizen focused — to be open to engagement on the terms that citizens are used to in the venues they’re accustomed to.

The growth of social media since the delivery of the initial open government directive, and its adoption by agencies’ communications departments requires the next step: for social media to also be used in giving citizens a voice in regulatory decisions. We believe the future of open government is about discoverability. Moving data or regulations from print publications to the online world results in a net loss if there are less people viewing them. Government should work hard to make sure that all publicly available information is discoverable by search engines, and via social media.

We believe that the future of open government is through the engagement of open source communities, and that agencies should begin to open up to their participation. Government treats lawyers as experts in the field of law, why not treat developers as experts in the field of processing data? Take the next step and participate with them directly, rather than through independent vessels.

– Clay Johnson (@cjoh), Recommendations for Open Government

For more on the decision to use email in the consultation, read Tiago Peixoto’s post on Google Plus.

About Alex Howard

Alexander B. Howard is a DC-based a technology writer and editor. Previously, he was the Washington Correspondent at O'Reilly Media, where he covered the voices, technologies and issues that matter in the intersection of government, technology and society. If you're feeling social, you can follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook or circle him on Google Plus In addition to corresponding for the O’Reilly Radar, he has contributed to the Huffington Post, Govfresh, Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, National Journal, The Atlantic, CBS News and Forbes. He graduated from Colby College with a bachelor's degree in biology and sociology. Currently, he is a resident of the District of Columbia, where he lives with his greyhound, wife, power tools, plants and growing collection of cast iron pans, many of which are frequently used to pursue his passion for good cooking.

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