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Transparency in Government

Transparency in Government



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Published by Sunlight Foundation

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Published by: Sunlight Foundation on Sep 03, 2010
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Intergovernmental Solutions Newsletter
GSA Office of Citizen Services and Communications
Continued on next page...
Spring 2009
TheIntergovernmental Solutions Newsletter is produced twice a year by the Intergovernmental Solutions Division, GSA Office of Citizens Services and Communications; Lisa Nelson, Editor.Send comments and suggestions to: lisa.nelson@gsa.gov.
Transparency in Government . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1Memorandum for the Heads of ExecutiveDepartments and Agencies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4Recovery.gov Reveals Detailsofthe Stimulus Spending . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5
Democratization of Data
Unfettered Access to DataCan Transform Government? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6Technology as a Game-Changer . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7Information as a Public Good . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9Citizen Views On Transparency . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11
Practices at Work in Government
Texas Websites Improve Accountability . . . . . .13Georgia’s Commitment to CustomerService and Good Government . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15Transparency 2.0 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16Measuring E-Government 2.0 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17E-discovery, TransparencyandCulture Change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19AGAOpens the Doors of Governmenttothe Citizens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21
Shedding Light on Corruption
India: Revolutionizing Land Records . . . . . . . . .23Fighting Corruption, While BuildingEnergy Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26Through a Glass, Darkly. What do wemean by transparency in government? . . . . . . .28Transparency in Government Begins Outside .29
The Collaborative Government
Beyond Transparency in Government . . . . . . . . .31Get Ready for Wiki-Government . . . . . . . . . . . . .33Building the Digital Public Square . . . . . . . . . . .35Open Government Serves Citizens . . . . . . . . . .37
ewly elected President Barack Obama has taken bold steps toinaugurate an era of government openness and transparency. Inone of his first official acts, the President issued a
Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government
, affirminghis commitment to achieving an “unprecedented level of openness ingovernment.” Making known his belief that transparency is afundamental responsibility of a democratic government, he called for thecreation of an Open Government Directive that would require agenciesto reveal their inner workings and make their data public.A commitment to government accountability is at the heart of thismessage. By allowing citizens to “see through” its workings andinvestigate whether or not their leaders and organizations have mettheir expectations, the government brings the public into its inner circlesand empowers citizens to contribute to decision-making. As citizensgain knowledge and understanding, their trust in government begins togrow.Providing government data to citizens in a meaningful way will require aculture change, away from one where data are stored away for internalpurposes to one that looks broadly at how data can be made accessiblefor re-use by the public. The federal website
Recovery.gov RevealsDetails of the Stimulus Spending
on the $787 billion AmericanRecovery and Reinvestment Act. It will put the data out in useable formso that people can slice, dice and mash it up to gain meaningfulinformation about how government is working.These data feeds create opportunities to look at government programsin new ways that could never have been imagined by the data collectors.The District of Columbia’s
 Apps for Democracy
Contest drew upon thepublic’s imagination to make D.C. data more useful to constituents.Under the leadership of then-CTO Vivek Kundra, the District sponsoreda contest seeking creative applications that use D.C. government data.The results were astonishing. The 47 entries submitted to
 Apps for  Democracy
within only 30 days “produced more savings for the D.C.government than any other initiative,” according to Kundra, who hassince been named federal CIO.
Transparency in Government
By Darlene MeskellDirector, Intergovernmental SolutionsGSA Office of Citizen Services and Communications
Transparency andOpen Government
Continued on next page...
Making government data available isjust the beginning of the process. Toreach the president’s goal, agenciesmust solicit public feedback toidentify information of greatest use tothe public, expanding citizenparticipation in public policydecision-making. It will bring a newwave of remarkable technologicalapplications that will havegovernment and citizens workingtogether in partnership. The resultingnetwork within which citizens andtheir government can work together tosolve problems, will change the waycitizens and governments interact.
Democratization of Data
Information technology has madedata available to everyone. Thisdemocratization of data unveils theinternal workings of government andsets in motion the wheels oftransformation.
Unfettered Accessto Data that Can TransformGovernment
examines thegovernment’s need to look beyondtransparency and accountability whendelivering data to increase workerproductivity and citizen engagement.
Technology as a Game Changer 
looks at the transformationalpossibilities of inviting greaterparticipation and collaboration fromcitizens.
Information as a PublicGood
presents examples of Web-based geospatial technologies thatare leveraging government data as apublic good. The results of a surveyconducted by Rutgers University onthe different dimensions regardingwhat citizens are looking for in theway of transparency are detailed in
Citizens’ Views on Transparency 
Practices at Work in Government
Web 2.0 practices are changing publicservices now. Governments areproviding citizens with extraordinarytools that inform them and otherswith similar interests. One of thefastest growing trends in state andlocal government is to providecitizens with timely, easy tounderstand information on how theirhow their taxpayer dollars are beingspent.
Texas Websites Improve Accountability 
describes the state’sthree initiatives aimed at improvinggovernment accounting, spending andtransparency. The State of Georgia’sgateway to information and keydocuments about how the statespends tax dollars and other revenuesis outlined in
Georgia'sCommitment to Customer Serviceand Good Government
.New Zealand is moving strategicallyto use online tools to engage citizensand learn their views on mattersimportant to them. Onlinecommunities are viewed as partnersworking to improve the quality ofgovernment in
Transparency 2.0
.Recognizing the need for a newapproach in the maintenance offederal records,
The president’s January 21, 2009, memo ontransparency and open government viewed as a word cloud.
Transparency and CultureChange
lays out a framework forchanges that will enhance access topublic documents. Currentmethodology for measuringeGovernment progress is nearing theend of its usefulness.
Measuring E-Government 2.0
presents a newbenchmarking approach formeasuring e-government’s return oninvestment. The Association ofGovernment Accountants establishesa baseline for understanding publicattitudes with regard to transparencyand accountability in
 AGA Opensthe Doors of Government toCitizens
Shedding Light on Corruption
Increasing transparency and citizenparticipation goes a long way towardundermining the problem ofcorruption. Transparency in the oil,gas and mining industry has beengaining traction over the last decade.
Fighting Corruption whileBuilding Energy Security 
looks atthe paradox of resource-rich countriesthat are impoverished because ofcorruption and conflict. In India, landrecords are vital documents for bothfarmers and the government. They areused to prove ownership and arerequired for numerous administrativefunctions.
India: Revolutionary Land Records
reveals the incredibleimpact computerization of landrecords has had on the livelihood ofsmall farmers.Openness and transparency arenecessary for effective governmentoversight and accountability. The ideathat transparency does not guaranteeaccountability is explored in
Througha Glass, Darkly: What do we meanby transparency in government?
The need for government to tap intothe expertise of others and withstandpublic scrutiny is discussed in
Transparency in GovernmentBegins Outside
. As U.S. SupremeCourt Justice Louis Brandeis so aptlyput it “sunlight is the bestdisinfectant.”
Collaborative Government
The issues of culture and policy needto be addressed before majorprogress can be made toward a trulycollaborative government.
Transparency in Government
speaks to theses challenges and theneed to engage citizens to solvetoday’s complex problems.
GetReady for Wiki-Government
looksat the millennial generation’s use ofsocial networks. This generation willchange the shape of America’sgoverning processes to one wheresome decisions will be made bycrowds.Government in ancient Athens wasconducted in the public square.People met there to debate civicissues and drive policy decisions.
Building the Digital PublicSquare
describes how the District ofColumbia is re-creating the publicsquare to bring people closer to theirgovernment using collaborativetechnologies.Even today,
Open GovernmentServes Citizens
, as MaryantonettFlumian, the founding head of ServiceCanada illustrates, offering numerousexamples of transparent governmentfrom the public and private sectors inthe U.S. and around the world.Following her lead, this newsletteroffers more of the many stories ofhow cooperation and innovativetechnology are being used to confrontthe huge changes required to createan open and participativegovernment. The range of subjects isjust the tip of the iceberg, and showshow better communications—on alllevels—must be a key priority forgovernment in the future.President Obama’s January 21 opengovernment memoradum calls fortransparency, participation andcollaboration in government. Thesethree concepts have been underlyingAmerican democracy since the start,but never have they been so central toa presidential vision. With advancedtechnologies and creative use of theInternet, a commitment to opengovernment will go a long way towardgiving the public control of the leversof power, and encouragingwidespread participation in the civiclife of the nation.
 Darlene Meskell is the Director,Intergovernmental Solutions, GSA. For additional information contactlisa.nelson@gsa.gov 

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