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US and EU in Search of an Open Government R&D Agenda

US and EU in Search of an Open Government R&D Agenda

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Published by Luigi Reggi
Open Government is not only changing politics and policies but is also redefining the notion of established research areas such as e-government and e-democracy. The world of research - with the active participation of practitioners - needs to define an Open Government R&D agenda for the years to come.
Open Government is not only changing politics and policies but is also redefining the notion of established research areas such as e-government and e-democracy. The world of research - with the active participation of practitioners - needs to define an Open Government R&D agenda for the years to come.

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Published by: Luigi Reggi on Sep 23, 2011
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09/25/2011

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RegionalInnovationPolicies
Luigi Reggi’s website
US and EU in search of an OpenGovernmentR&D agenda
Luigi Reggi
Open Government is not only changing politics and policies but is alsoredefining the notion of established research areas such as e-governmentand e-democracy. The world of research - with the active participation of practitioners - needs to define an Open Government R&D agenda for theyears to come.
Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and the US Open GovernmentDirective of December2009 profoundly changed the way governments of the whole world areconceiving the role of ICT in the Public Sector.Obama’s Directive, which directly (and almost immediately) influencedpolicy making in most OECD countries and also contributed to the growthof bottom-up initiatives, is now impacting the world of research.Key questions such as the actual impact of open government data on citizens and enterprises remain largely unanswered. It is not just a matterof democratic principles and political messages, or transparency only. Thediffusion of web 2.0 technologies and user-driven innovations in the publicsector – along with the creation of new business opportunities coming fromthe re-use of government data by the private sector – is changing theperspective of interdisciplinary but actually quite separated research fieldssuch as e-government (focused on the use of ICT in internal processes andin public services provision) and e-democracy (focused on citizenengagement through technologies such as on line polling and voting,deliberation, consultation). Teresa M. Harrison and her colleagues from theCenter for Technology in Government (CTG) at the University of AlbanySUNY made this clear in a paper published a few days ago: “Although e-democracy in political and e-government in administrative realms havehistorically been largely separated, it now appears Open Governmentbrings these two spheres of activity together”.On the one hand, the provision of e-government services not only requires
 
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technical expertise but also, inevitably, implies political choices. On theother hand, e-government implementation should take advantage of the “powerof the crowd” and the opportunities that come from involving the citizen and the private sector in new forms of public-private collaboration.As boundaries between research domains are blurring, time has come todefine an
Open Government holistic framework
and a
.In Europe, the CROSSROAD project, a Support Action funded by the  European Commission, has produced a Research Roadmap for “ICT forgovernance and policy modeling”, as defined by the objective 7.3 of the EUSeventh Framework Programme (FP7) 2009-2010. A white paperpublished in December 2010 and edited by Fenareti Lampathaki, SotirisKoussouris, YannisCharalabidis and Dimitris Askounis (National Technical University of Athens) identifies five main research themes and a three-leveltaxonomy. As the point of view is the broader concept of ICT forgovernance and policy making, a set of useful tools and research domainsthat are not usually considered in the current debate on Open Governmentare included here. This is the case of public opinion mining tools, whichcould be used to find out, for example, what types of citizens care aboutwhich type of government information. Another examples are thetechnologies that the EU classifies into the “Future Internet” studies, some  of which (e.g. the Internet of Services) are based ongovernment linked  data availability.In the US, the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology(PCAST) highlighted the importance of establishing an R&D agenda foropen government in a report issued in December 2010. The OpenGovernment Research & Development Summit was hosted on March21-22nd, 2011 by the Networking and Information Technology Researchand Development (NITRD) Program. The summit brought togethergovernment leaders and researchers to explore the needs of thecommunity, and was organized by the office of the U.S. Chief TechnologyOfficer Aneesh Chopra, while Beth Noveck - law professor at the New YorkLaw School - was one of the prime movers on getting the meeting tohappen.Building on this first event, a workshop organized by the Center forTechnology in Government (CTG) in Albany, New York on April 27-28th
 
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gathered a number of academics, practitioners and, moreover, hundreds of research questions still unanswered. These questions were then clusteredinto omogeneous groups such as “the value / ecosystem of OpenGovernment”, “What do citizens want?”, “Government capabilities”, etc. Asa second step, research questions were considered by four lenses: 1) lawand policy, 2) management, 3) technology and 4) cross-cutting. ProfessorInes Mergel reported on this in her blog: day one and day two.Furthermore, a full list of all the questions is now available in a CTG reportprepared by Meghan Cook and M. Alexander Jurkat, which also include aninteresting list of the biggest challenges faced in Open Government asperceived by the participants.EU CROSSROAD project and US CTG workshop came up with quite similarresearch themes and questions, with CTG themes mainly comprised in thefirst section of CROSSROAD taxonomy “Open government Information andIntelligence for transparency”. Other CROSSROAD areas partially incommon with the US approach are, for example, “Social computing, citizenengagement and inclusion” and “Identity management and trust ingovernance”.
In the following table I try to combine some of the most interestingaspects of the CROSSROAD and CTG exercises, that is a robustidentification of research clusters and the use of “lens”corresponding to different disciplines.
Questions and themes are grouped together on the basis of 
data andinformationflows
fromgovernment to citizens and back fromcitizens andbusinessesto government
. With reference to the figure:1.
Open /linked data “supply side”
: howto fostermeaningful and useful government data publication? What implications / impact within the government agencies?2.
Open / linked data “demand side”
: how to meet citizen andbusinesses needs? How to support data use and re-use?3.
Social computing
: How to involve the citizen in collaborationprojects / activities?

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