How does making government smarter relate to open government, e-government or “We government?”
As Sifry put it in the Huffington Post this week ,
At Personal Democracy Forum, we prefer the term “We-government,” the co-creating of new forms of collaboration and service that use technology, public data and the social web to address vital issues and solve public problems, that enables us to do more with less. It’s neither Right nor Left, not small government or big government, but effective do-it-ourselves-government.
What are the early success stories and challenges for an open government in beta? This morning in Washington, I dodged rain drops on my way to a Gov 2.0 panel moderated by Ogilvy Digital’s Rohit Bhargava to talk about that very topic, joining Personal Democracy Forum co-founder Micah Sifry; Mark Murray, deputy political director for NBC News; Ari Melber, correspondent and blogger for the Nation magazine and Politico; and Gwynne Kostin, Director at the Center for New Media and Citizen Engagement at the GSA.
The panel was livestreamed at Livestream.com and integrated with the Ogilvy’s 360 Digital Influence Facebook page for an online audience. Fast forward to about 30 minutes into the archive for the beginning of the event.
“We’re just beginning to see the government using the Web in a more porous, participatory way,” said Sifry, who saw no reason that government workers couldn’t get technology in the same way other citizens else can. “Really, government workers have mastered the telephone,” he said. “The can probably use Web 2.0 tools.”
Gov 2.0 Case Studies
While Sifry was critical of the White House’s embrace of Gov 2.0 and open government, he observed that at the agency level he’s seeing “a flowering of initiative.” That’s backed up by what I’ve seen on the ground and have reported on in numerous studies. For instance:
- Barghava mentioned Pillbox at NIH, where socializing open government healthcare data built a better platform
- Health and Human Services, where CTO Todd Park is making community health info as useful as weather data:
- Crowdsourcing national challenges at Challenge.gov
- “There’s a movement to make sure that cities all put their data out in the same way,” said Sifry, as evidenced by the Open 311 initiative
- Sifry also referenced the targeted crowdsourcing example of Peer-to-Patent, an open government innovation pioneered by White House deputy CTO Beth Noveck
- The reboot of FCC.gov and rollout of APIs and developer engagement holds some promise.
- The launch of the Civic Commons code-sharing initiative could be a big deal to state and city governments.
- The progress of bringing open government to courts bears close watching.
- If you’re tracking the technology that will make government better, it’s clear that network visualization and the mining of open data sets will have major utility for fraud detection and reduction.
- Abroad, the growth of government 2.0 in Australia and development of open government in Britain are key case studies to watch, particularly Data.gov.uk.
“There is a civic surplus waiting to be tapped of people who want the country to succeed,” said Sifry. And, in fact, I reported on Harnessing the Civic Surplus for Open Government,” when Noveck spoke in Manor, Texas about all of these initiatives.
I’m shortchanging the comments of Melber, Kostin and Murray due to time, unfortunately, but the #Ogilvy360di tweetstream and archived livestream offer additional perspective. Both of the reporters provided ample insight into the hyper-charged world of national correspondents in Washington, where news and issues move almost as quickly as the polls. More of Kostin’s thoughts may also be fond at her blog, OnDotGov.
Selected reflections from the online audience:
@msspinach: “The hot question: what exactly is #gov20? Gwynne Kostin: ‘We’re still throwing spaghetti on the wall and seeing what sticks.'”
@voleynik: “#Gov20 = government using the web to create better services for citizens. Creating smarter more effective government.”
@SaBean21: “Our bill of rights is being used in a digital form. Open platform is a tiny & fragile thing we have right now.
@dlblack: “@digiphile: the gov20 / #opengov conversation can’t just be about Washington, it has to be about data people can use”
@msspinach: “#gov20 means whoever is in power gives up some cntrl. If u want group prticipation, ppl need to feel they’re being listened to.”
@merici:”Ok, social media exists. We get it. Moving fwd, what are ex of gov using web to be smarter, more efficient?”
@dlblack: “not all #gov20 projects need to be about mass participation, they need to be about exchanging knowledge w/right audience”