Map of open government communities generated by social network analysis of Twitter

Graph-12287

The map above was created on November 20 by researcher Marc Smith using a dataset of tweets that contained “opengov” over the past month. You can explore an interactive version of it here.

The social network analysis is, by its nature, a representation of only the data used to create it. It’s not a complete picture of open government communities offline, or even the totality of the communities online: it’s just the people who tweeted about open gov.

That said, there are some interesting insights to be gleaned.

1) The biggest network is the one for the Open Government Partnership (OGP), on the upper left (G1), which had its annual summit during the time period in question. That likely affected the data set.

2) I’m at the center of the U.S. open government community on the bottom left (G2) (I’m doing something right!) and am connected throughout these communities, though I need to work on my Spanish. This quadrant is strongly interconnected and includes many nodes linked up to OGP and around the world. (Those are represented by the green lines.)

3) Other communities include regional networks, like Spain (G4) and Spanish-speaking (G11) open government organizations, Germany (G3), Italy (G12), Canada (G7), Greece (G5) and Australia (G9), and ideological networks, like the White House @OpenGov initiative (G8) and U.S. House Majority Leader (G6). These networks have many links to one another, although Mexico looks relatively isolated. Given that Indonesia has a relatively high Twitter penetration, its relative absence from the map likely reflects users there not tweeting with “opengov.”

4) The relative sparseness of connections between the Republican open government network and other open government communities strongly suggests that, despite the overwhelming bipartisan support for the DATA Act in the House, the GOP isn’t engaging and linked up to the broader global conversation yet, an absence that should both concern its leaders and advocates in the United States that would like to see effective government rise above partisan politics. This community is also only tweeting links to its own (laudable) open government initiatives and bills in the House, as opposed to what’s happening outside of DC.

5) You can gain some insight into the events and issues that matter in these communities by looking at the top links shared. Below, I’ve shared the top links from Smith’s NodeXL analysis:
Top URLs in Tweet in Entire Graph:

https://healthcare.gov/
http://www.opengovguide.com/
https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/open-government-partnership-summit-2013
http://www.opengovpartnership.org/get-involved/london-summit-2013
https://govmakerday.eventbrite.com/
http://blogs.worldbank.org/youthink/can-young-people-make-your-government-more-accountable
http://www.opengovpartnership.org/london-summit-2013
http://paper.li/DGateway/1350366870
https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/5907-more-open-government-ogp13
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?feature=edit_ok&list=PLMDgGB-pYxdFNupM0kiHFPjwv8by2alxY

Top URLs in Tweet in G1 (Open Government Partnership):

https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/open-government-partnership-summit-2013
https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/5907-more-open-government-ogp13
http://www.opengovpartnership.org/london-summit-2013
http://www.thunderclap.it/tipped/5907/twitter
http://www.opengovpartnership.org/get-involved/london-summit-2013
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?feature=edit_ok&list=PLMDgGB-pYxdFNupM0kiHFPjwv8by2alxY
https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/5907-more-open-government-ogp13?locale=en
http://www.opengovguide.com/
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/open-government-partnership-uk-national-action-plan-2013
http://www.opengovpartnership.org/open-government-awards-launched-reward-transparent-accountable-and-effective-public-programs#sthash.xl5Bwn5D.dpuf

Top URLs in Tweet in G2 (US OpenGov Community):

http://www.usgovernmentmanual.gov/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/danielle-brian/in-wake-of-snowden-us-mus_b_4192804.html?utm_hp_ref=tw
http://e-pluribusunum.com/2013/11/05/farm-bill-foia-open-government-epa/
http://www.knightfoundation.org/blogs/knightblog/2013/10/28/new-project-aims-connect-dots-open-data/
http://www.whitehouse.gov/lWV7k
http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2013/11/15/opengov-voices-pdf-liberation-hackathon-at-sunlight-in-dc-and-around-the-world-january-17-19-2014/
http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2013/11/14/recent-developments-show-desire-for-trade-talk-transparency/
http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2013/10/22/how-much-did-healthcare-gov-actually-cost/
http://www.consumerfinance.gov/blog/making-regulations-easier-to-use/
http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2013/11/19/house-keeps-data-act-momentum-moving/

Top URLs in Tweet in G3 (Germany):

http://paper.li/DGateway/1350366870
http://oknrw.de/
http://www.opengovpartnership.org/blog/christian-heise/2013/11/18/german-grand-coalition-might-agree-joining-ogp
http://dati.comune.bologna.it/node/962
http://www.globalhealthhub.org/thehive/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1431657647046016
http://aiddata.org/blog/this-week-open-data-for-open-hearts-and-open-minds
http://www.opengovpartnership.org/get-involved/london-summit-2013
http://www.freiburg.de/pb/,Lde/541381.html
http://digitaliser.dk/resource/2534864

Top URLs in Tweet in G4 (Spain):

http://www.opengovguide.com/
http://www.cepal.org/cgi-bin/getprod.asp?xml=/ilpes/capacitacion/0/50840/P50840.xml&xsl=/ilpes/tpl/p15f.xsl&base=/ilpes/tpl/top-bottom.xsl
https://vine.co/v/hpZErXPd6rq
http://thepowerofopengov.tumblr.com/
http://es.scribd.com/collections/4376877/Case-Studies
https://vine.co/v/hpZiw7TXanI
https://vine.co/v/hpZIV002zar
http://aga.org.mx/SitePages/DefinicionGob.aspx
http://www.opengovpartnership.org
http://inicio.ifai.org.mx/Publicaciones/La%20promesa%20del%20Gobierno%20Abierto.pdf

Top URLs in Tweet in G5 (Greece):

https://healthcare.gov/
http://venturebeat.com/2013/10/23/so-much-for-opengov-quantcast-traffic-on-healthcare-gov-hidden-by-the-owner/
http://elegilegi.org/
http://opengov.seoul.go.kr/
http://venturebeat.com/2013/10/23/so-much-for-opengov-quantcast-traffic-on-healthcare-gov-hidden-by-the-owner/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
http://www.aspeninstitute.org/about/blog/biases-open-government-blind-us?utm_source=as.pn&utm_medium=urlshortener
http://www.opengov.gr/consultations/?p=1744
http://www.aspeninstitute.org/about/blog/biases-open-government-blind-us
http://www.opengov.gr/minfin/?p=4076
http://OpenGov.com

Top URLs in Tweet in G6 (GOP):

http://houselive.gov/
https://www.cosponsor.gov/details/hr2061
http://oversight.house.gov/release/oversight-leaders-introduce-bipartisan-data-act/
http://instagram.com/p/g3uvs_sYYr/
http://cpsc.gov/live
https://cosponsor.gov/details/hr2061-113
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bnn3IsOhulE&feature=youtu.be
http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Regulations-Laws–Standards/Rulemaking/Final-and-Proposed-Rules/Hand-Held-Infant-Carriers/
http://www.speaker.gov/press-release/opengov-house-representatives-makes-us-code-available-bulk-xml
http://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20131118/BILLS-113hr2061XML.xml

Top URLs in Tweet in G7 (Canada):

https://govmakerday.eventbrite.com/
http://www.ontario.ca/government/open-government-initial-survey
http://govmakerday.eventbrite.com
http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2013/10/29/the_promise_and_challenges_of_open_government.html
http://www.marsdd.com/2013/10/31/open-government-three-stages-for-codeveloping-solutions/
http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2013/11/09/rob_ford_and_the_emerging_crisis_of_legitimacy.html
https://www.ontario.ca/government/open-government-initial-survey
http://govmakerday-estw.eventbrite.com
http://www.ontario.ca/open
http://gov20radio.com/2013/10/gtec2013/

Top URLs in Tweet in G8 (@OpenGov):

https://healthcare.gov/
http://www.whitehouse.gov/lWV7k
http://www.consumerfinance.gov/blog/making-regulations-easier-to-use/
http://aseyeseesit.blogspot.com/2012/01/economy-hasnt-stalled-for-members-of.html
http://www.commonblog.com/2013/10/23/eagle-tribune-editorial-public-records-need-to-be-available-to-its-citizenry/
http://mobile.twitter.com/OpenGov
http://blogs.state.gov/stories/2013/10/31/making-governments-more-open-effective-and-accountable
http://open.dc.gov/
http://www.sielocal.com/SieLocal/informe/1025/Ingresos-por-el-concepto-de-multas
http://mei-ks.net/?page=1,5,787

Top URLs in Tweet in G9 (Australia):

http://paper.li/cortado/1291646564
http://icma.org/en/icma/knowledge_network/documents/kn/Document/305680/Transparency_20_The_Fundamentals_of_Online_Open_Government
http://www.oaic.gov.au/about-us/corporate-information/annual-reports/oaic-annual-report-201213/
https://controllerdata.lacity.org/
http://cogovsnapshot.cofluence.co/
https://info.granicus.com/Online-Open-Gov-October-29-2013.html?page=Home-Page
http://www.oaic.gov.au/news-and-events/subscribe
https://oaic.govspace.gov.au/2013/10/30/community-attitudes-to-privacy-survey-results/
http://www.cebit.com.au/cebit-news/2013/towards-open-government-esnapshot-australia-2013
http://journalistsresource.org/studies/politics/digital-democracy/government-transparency-conflicts-public-trust-privacy-recent-research-ideas

Top URLs in Tweet in G10:

http://on.undp.org/pUdJj
http://europeandcis.undp.org/blog/2013/10/17/a-template-for-developing-a-gov20-opengov-project/?utm_source=%40OurTweets
http://www.govloop.com/profiles/blogs/12-favorite-quotes-from-code-for-america-summit
http://www.accessinitiative.org/blog/2013/10/east-kalimantan-community%E2%80%99s-struggles-underscore-need-proactive-transparency-indonesia
http://www.scribd.com/doc/178983441/Montenegro-Inspiring-Story-open-government
http://www.scribd.com/doc/178988676/Indonesia-case-study-open-government
http://www.setimes.com/cocoon/setimes/xhtml/en_GB/features/setimes/features/2013/10/18/feature-01?utm_source=%40OurTweets
http://www.opengovpartnership.org/summary-london-summit-commitments
http://feedly.com/k/1arGpdC
http://slid.es/kendall/open-records

When digital government supports open government

photo (17)

As I looked back at the annual Open Government Partnership Summit in London, I was struck by how much technology continues to dominate discussion, particularly when many of the issues that confront people and governments around the world are political or systemic, and thus resistant to simply “fixes.”

Given that so many of the new country commitments for the partnership either involve improving the use of technology or are enabled by technology, it’s tempting to frame the release of government data and other digital efforts as efforts that will primarily serve elites, not the poor, and to warn of the encroachment of commercial interests in that delivery.

The years ahead will be messy, full of anger, violence, ignorance and the worst of human nature, expressed in political conflicts and entrenched institutions and industries fighting against a rising tide of populism and industrial disruption fueled by an explosion of connection technologies.

Near the end of 2013, the majority of humanity is living through the consequences of wars, natural disasters, disease, food shortages or inequality in access to resources. On many days, access to healthy food, electricity and clean water are critical needs. Access to information, however, has rapidly become critical in this new millennium.

That such information will be delivered through the Internet and mobile devices is clearly one of the megatrends of this decade. Similarly, access to one another through those same devices, mediated by social media and video, is shifting how we all can understand, document and experience the world.

While 56% of American adults now own a smartphone, the rest of the world hasn’t hasn’t caught up yet. That’s changing quickly, however, as the cost of mobile hardware continues to drop. There have now been over 1 billion Android activations worldwide. As cheaper smartphones and tablets become available, and more wireless Internet access rolls out through ISPs, mesh networks and perhaps even Google blimps, the pressure to provide digital services will only increase.

Why all the hullabaloo? Isn’t this just “e-government redux,” with phones? It would also be a gross mistake to view digital government as simply rebranding or scaling the existing approaches to buying, building and maintaining government IT.

Unfortunately, the bad news here is that government technology around the world is dominated by regulations, tangled hiring practices and procurement policies that get in the way of building important software, along with politics and poor management. The good news is that the example of the United Kingdom’s new Government Digital Services team shows a potential way forward for building a digital core for 21st century government online.

Adopting a digital government strategy is not the same as moving to a system of government more open and accountable to the people, as a comparison of the democratic accountability in countries as diverse as Singapore, Denmark, Iran and Brazil demonstrate.

Given that technology can and will underpin many efforts to reduce corruption, improve accountability and empower citizen activism and public engagement, dismissing the importance of public-private partnerships or digital government initiatives as inherently “ephemeral” would be a mistake in this young century.

White House asks for feedback on second National Action Plan for Open Government

As the annual Open Government Partnership conference draws near, the White House would like the people to weigh in on building a more open government. The request for feedback parallels the one made two years ago, when the White House engaged civil society organizations regarding its open government efforts, and follows up on a July 3 post on open government on the White House blog.

WhiteHouse-EOB

Here are the questions that they’d like help answering:

  1. How can we better encourage and enable the public to participate in government and increase public integrity? For example, in the first National Action Plan, we required Federal enforcement agencies to make publicly available compliance information easily accessible, downloadable and searchable online – helping the public to hold the government and regulated entities accountable.
  • What other kinds of government information should be made more available to help inform decisions in your communities or in your lives?
  • How would you like to be able to interact with Federal agencies making decisions which impact where you live?
  • How can the Federal government better ensure broad feedback and public participation when considering a new policy?
  1. The American people must be able to trust that their Government is doing everything in its power to stop wasteful practices and earn a high return on every tax dollar that is spent.  How can the government better manage public resources? 
  • What suggestions do you have to help the government achieve savings while also improving the way that government operates?
  • What suggestions do you have to improve transparency in government spending?
  1. The American people deserve a Government that is responsive to their needs, makes information readily accessible, and leverages Federal resources to help foster innovation both in the public and private sector.   How can the government more effectively work in collaboration with the public to improve services?
  • What are your suggestions for ways the government can better serve you when you are seeking information or help in trying to receive benefits?
  • In the past few years, the government has promoted the use of “grand challenges,” ambitious yet achievable goals to solve problems of national priority, and incentive prizes, where the government identifies challenging problems and provides prizes and awards to the best solutions submitted by the public.  Are there areas of public services that you think could be especially benefited by a grand challenge or incentive prize?
  • What information or data could the government make more accessible to help you start or improve your business?

The White House is asking that feedback be sent to opengov@ostp.gov by September 23 and states that it will post a summary of submissions online in the future.

If you’re in the mood to weigh in, there just might be a few other pressing issues that deserve to be addressed in the plan, from compliance with the Freedom of Information Act to press freedom to surveillance and national security.

A note on email, public engagement and transparency

In a post regarding the White House’s call for input, Nextgov reporter Joseph Marks is skeptical about using email to solicit feedback, suggesting instead that the administration return to the approach of 2009, when the transition team asked the public at large to weigh in on open government.

“When seeking advice on open government, it seems natural to make that advice itself open and transparent,” writes Marks. “This could be done using a plain old comments section. Even better, the White House could have engaged the public with a crowdsourcing platform such as IdeaScale, which allows users to vote ideas up and down. That way the public could participate not just in offering ideas but in choosing which ones merit further consideration.”

People who have been following the thread around the drafting of the U.S. “national action plans” for open government know, however, that a similar call for feedback went out two years ago, when the White House asked for comments on the first version of the plan. At the time, I was similarly skeptical of using email as a mechanism for feedback.

Writing on Google+, however, open government researcher Tiago Peixto, however, posited some reasons to look at email in a different light:

My first reaction was similar to that of some other observers: e-mail consultations, in most cases, are not transparent (at least immediately) and do not foster any kind of collaboration/deliberation.

But this comes rather as a surprise. Even though Sunstein might have some reserves towards deliberative models he is a major scholar in the field of decision-making and – to put it in fashionable terms – solutions to tap the crowd’s expertise. In fact, judging from this, one might even expect that Sunstein would take the opportunity offered by the OGP to create some sort of “prediction market”, one of his favorite mechanisms to leverage the knowledge dispersed across the public. In this case, why would they solicit online feedback via e-mail?

Thinking of email as a practical, last-minute choice is a possible explanation. But in the spirit of open interpretation (nowadays everything needs to be preceded by the word “open”), I am thinking of an alternative scenario that may have led to the choice of e-mail as the channel to gather input from the public online:

A possible hypothesis is that Sunstein might have been confronted by something that is no news to federal government employees: they have a very limited number of tools that they are actually allowed to use in order to engage with the public online. Having a limited number of options is not a bad thing per se, provided the options available are good enough. In this sense, the problem is that most of the tools available (e.g. ranking, ideation) do not meet reasonable standards of good “choice architecture”, to use Sunstein’s terms. One might imagine that as Sunstein went through the different options available, he foresaw all the effects that could be generated by the tools and their design: reputational cascades, polarization, herding… In the end, the only remaining alternative, although unexciting, was e-mail. In this case at least, preferences are independently aggregated, and the risks of informational and social influence are mitigated.

Maybe the option of using e-mail to solicit inputs from the public was just a practical solution. But thinking twice, given the options out there, I guess I would have opted for e-mail myself.

From where I sit today, the White House might be better off trying a both/and strategy: solicit feedback via email, but also post the draft action plan to Github, just like the open data policy, and invite the public to comment on proposals and add new ones.

The lack of public engagement around the plan on the primary White House Twitter, Facebook and Google+ accounts, however, along with the rest of the administration’s social media channels, suggests that feedback on this plan may not a top priority at the moment. To date, federal agencies are not using social media to ask for feedback either, including the Justice Department, which plays an important role in Freedom of Information Act policy and requests.

At least they’re using the @OpenGov and @WhiteHouseOSTP accounts:

 

Russia withdraws from Open Government Partnership. Too much transparency? [UPDATED]

russia-OGP

“Inevitably, there will be questions about what we are each prepared to sign up to,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron in January, in his letter to his fellow G8 leaders. For months later, Russia has made clear it clear what it wasn’t willing to sign onto: the Open Government Partnership (OGP). The most recent update on Russia is that the Kremlin will be pursuing “open government” on its own terms. Russia has withdrawn the letter of intent that it submitted on April 2012 in Brazil, at the first annual meeting of the Open Government Partnership.

Update: On May 23, The Moscow Times reported that Russia had just “postponed” its entry into OGP. Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian daily newspaper Kommersant that “we are not talking about winding up plans to join, but corrections in timing and the scale of participation are possible.” Open government advocate  David Eaves interprets this state of affairs to mean A) “transparency matters” and B) that “Russia may still be in OGP. Just not soon. And maybe never.” For now, Russia has withdrawn its letter of intent to join the Open Government Partnership and with that action, its commitments to transparency. OGP itself has  “adjusted” its website to reflect the change, which is to say that the former page for Russia can no longer be found. So what will open government mean in the largest country in the world? Read on.

If the dominant binary of the 21st century is between open and closed, Russia looks more interested in opting towards more controllable, technocratic options that involve discretionary data releases instead of an independent judiciary or freedom of assembly or the press.

One of the challenges of the Open Government Partnership has always been the criteria that a country had to pass to join and then continue to be a member. Russia’s inclusion in OGP instantly raised eyebrows, doubts and fears last April, given rampant corruption in the public sector and Russia’s terrible record on press freedom.

“Russia’s withdrawal from the OGP is an important reminder that open government isn’t easy or politically simple,” said Nathaniel Heller, executive director of Global Integrity. “While we don’t yet fully understand why Russia is leaving OGP, it’s safe to assume that the powers that be in the Kremlin decided that it was untenable to give reformers elsewhere in the Russian government the freedom to advance the open government agenda within the bureaucracy.”

The choices of Russian Prime Minister Dimitri Medvedev, who had publicly supported joining the OGP and made open government a principle of his government, may well have been called into question by Russia’s powerful president, Vladimir Putin.

Medvedev had been signaling a move towards adopting more comfortable sorts of “openness” for some time, leading up to and following Russia joining the Open Government Partnership in December 2012. Russia’s prime minister has sought to position himself as a reformer on the world stage, making a pitch at Davis for Russia being “open for business” earlier this year at the Davos economic forum. Adopting substantive open government reforms could well make a difference with respect to foreign investors concerns about corruption and governance.

While the Kremlin shows few signs of loosening its iron grip on national security and defense secrets, Russia faces the same need to modernize to meet the increasing demand of its citizens for online services as every developed nation.

Even if Russia may not be continue its membership in the Open Government Partnership, the Russian government’s version of “openness” may endure, at least with respect to federal, city and state IT systems. Over the winter, a version of “Open Government a la Russe” – in Cyrillic, большоеправительство or “big government” — seemed to accelerating at the national level and catching on in its capital. Maybe that will still happen, and Russion national action plan will go forward.

“While Russia’s approach to open government may be primarily technocratic, there’s a sense in which even the strongest legal requirements are only tools we give to our allies in governments,” said John Wonderlich, policy director at the Sunight Foundation. “FOI officers analyzing records, or judges deciding whether or not to enforce laws are embodying both legal and cultural realities when they determine how open a country will be, just as much as policy makers who determine which policies to pass. While Russia’s initial commitment to OGP was likely a surprising boon for internal champions for reform, its withdrawal will also serve as a demonstration of the difficulty of making a political commitment to openness there.”

What is more clear, however, is that the Kremlin seems much more interested the sort of “open government” that creates economic value, as opposed to sustaining independent auditors, press or civil society that’s required in functional democracies. Plutocracy and kleptrocacy doesn’t typically co-exist well open, democratic governments — or vice versa.

Given that the United States efforts on open government prominently feature the pursuit of similar value in releasing government data, Russia’s focus isn’t novel. In fact, “open data” is part of more than half of the plans of the participating countries in OGP, along with e-government reforms. In May of 2012, a presidential declaration directed governmental bodies to open up government data.

In February, Moscow launched an open data platform, at data.mos.ru, that supplied material for digital atlas of the city. Russia established an “open data council” the same month. Those steps forward could stand to benefit Russian citizens and bring some tangential benefits to transparency and accountability, if Russia and its cities can stomach the release of embarrassing data about spending, budgets or performance.

While some accounts of open government in Russia highlighted the potential of Russia to tap into new opportunities for innovation afforded by connected citizenry that exist around the world, crackdowns on civil society and transparency organizations have sorely tested the Russian government’s credibility on the issue. This trial of anti-corruption blogger Alexey Navalny for corruption this spring showed how far Russia has to go.

“Open government isn’t just open data nor is it e-government, two areas in which the Russian Federal had appeared to be willing to engage on the open government agenda,” said Heller. “Many observers doubted how far Russia could take open government in a climate of political repression, civil society crackdowns, and judicial abuse of power.”

Today’s news looks like a victory of conservatives in the Kremlin over government reformers interested in reducing corruption and adopting modern public sector management techniques. “We need to use modern technologies, crowd sourcing,” said Medvedev said in January 2013. “Those technologies change the status and enhance the legitimacy of decisions made in government.”

Changes in technology will undoubtedly influence Russia, as they will every country, albeit within the cultural and economic context of each. This withdrawal from OGP, however, may be a missed opportunity for civil society, at least with respect to losing a lever for reform, reduced corruption and institutions accountable to the people. Leaving the partnership suggests that Russia may be a bit scared of real transparency, or least the sort where the national government willing allows itself to be criticized by civil society and foreign non-governmental organizations.

It’s something of a mixed victory for the Open Government Partnership, too: getting to be a member and stay one means something, after all.

“For the Open Government Partnership, this will be seen as a bit of a blow to their progress, but its success was never predicated on getting every qualifying government to join,” said Wonderlich. “In a sense, Russia’s withdrawal may alleviate the need for OGP to grapple with Russia’s recent, severe treatment of NGOs there. More broadly, Russia’s withdrawal may better define the space in which the OGP mechanism can function well. Building a movement around commitments from heads of state has allowed OGP’s ranks to rapidly grow, but we’re also probably entering a new time for OGP, where the depth and reliability of those commitments will become clearer. Transitions between governments, domestic politics, corruption scandals, hypocritical behavior, uncooperative legislatures, exclusion of domestic NGOs, and internal power struggles may all threaten individual national commitments, and OGP will need to determine how to adapt to each of these challenges. OGP will need to determine whether it wants to be the arbiter of appropriate behavior on each of these dimensions, or whether its role is better left to the commitments and National Action Plans on which it was founded. ”

If OGP is to endure and have a meaningful impact on the world, its imprimatur has to have integrity and some weight of moral justice, based upon internationally shared norms on human rights and civil liberties. As press freedom goes, so to does open government and democracy.

“International boosters of open government may want to remain cautious at embracing open government reformers at the first whiff of ‘openness’ or rhetorical commitment to the agenda,” said Heller. “Within weeks of Russia first making noise around joining OGP, the World Bank and others rushed to assemble a major international conference in the country around open government to boost reformers inside the bureaucracy as they sought to move the country into OGP. While no one should criticize those efforts, they are a sobering reminder that initial rhetorical commitment to open government can only take us so far, and it’s wise to keep the political powder dry for other downstream fights.”

Given the scale of bribery and the impact of corruption on growth, Russians can only hope that more “openness” with teeth comes to their country soon.