Historic lows in trust in government creates icy headwinds for U.S. open government policies

Open government advocates in the United States can expect to find public support for more accountability on a host of federal programs and policies among an electorate deeply distrustful of the White House’s commitment to more transparency regarding them.

Anyone interested in engaging the public regarding rules, regulations and proposed laws, however, should take note of the tenor of the comments on the coverage of the second United States National Action Plan on Open Government. They are a bellwether for the degree of damage to public trust in government that now persists in the United States.

If you feel like reading through the comments on “White House promises more transparency in second Open Government plan” at The Verge or “White House announces second open government plan” at Politico or “New White House plan reaffirms commitment to open data” at The Washington Post, you’ll find anger, disbelief and mockery.


I couldn’t find a single positive or even neutral comment on any of the stories. Considered in the context of the current political climate in the United States, that’s not surprising.

Gallup polling data from September 2013 indicated then that the trust of Americans in government had now fallen to historic lows.

After the government shutdown this fall and the messy rollout of the Affordable Care Act over the past two months, including a high stakes Internet failure at Healthcare.gov, I suspect that a Gallup poll taken today would find that even fewer people trust that the executive or legislative branch of the federal government of the United States.

If my own article on the White House’s second open government national action plan gains more attention, I expect to find similar sentiments from people who choose to comment.

8 thoughts on “Historic lows in trust in government creates icy headwinds for U.S. open government policies

  1. Alex, as always, I really appreciate your context and appreciate you drawing attention to these issues. That is a very telling graphic. Things have definitely changed over time.

    This is a bit funny, but I have always distrusted government, even when I was in it.

    Remember what happened at Waco, for example? Or Ruby Ridge, or the persecution of Richard Jewell, or Steven Hatfill? There are many reasons not to trust government. I guess you could go all the way back to the Whiskey Rebellion.

    But things sure have changed. I blame politicians. They have all seemed to find ways to take advantage of gridlock, they all seem to love it. It lets them blame the other side for inaction. It lets them all do what they do best, which is campaigning. Sorry to rant, but you fired a neuron or two.

    I sure see a lot of good. Mostly from career professionals in government.


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