Transparency in Government


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Transparency in Government

  1. 1. GSA Office of Citizen Services and Communications Intergovernmental Solutions Newsletter Transparency and Open GovernmentSpring 2009 Transparency in Government . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Transparency in Government Memorandum for the Heads of Executive By Darlene Meskell Departments and Agencies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Director, Intergovernmental Solutions Reveals Details GSA Office of Citizen Services and Communications of the Stimulus Spending . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5Democratization of Data ewly elected President Barack Obama has taken bold steps to N Unfettered Access to Data Can Transform Government? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 inaugurate an era of government openness and transparency. In Technology as a Game-Changer . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 one of his first official acts, the President issued a Information as a Public Good . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, affirming Citizen Views On Transparency . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 his commitment to achieving an “unprecedented level of openness in government.” Making known his belief that transparency is aPractices at Work in Government fundamental responsibility of a democratic government, he called for the Texas Websites Improve Accountability . . . . . .13 creation of an Open Government Directive that would require agencies Georgia’s Commitment to Customer to reveal their inner workings and make their data public. Service and Good Government . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 Transparency 2.0 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 A commitment to government accountability is at the heart of this Measuring E-Government 2.0 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 message. By allowing citizens to “see through” its workings and E-discovery, Transparency investigate whether or not their leaders and organizations have met and Culture Change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 their expectations, the government brings the public into its inner circles AGA Opens the Doors of Government and empowers citizens to contribute to decision-making. As citizens to the Citizens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 gain knowledge and understanding, their trust in government begins toShedding Light on Corruption grow. India: Revolutionizing Land Records . . . . . . . . .23 Providing government data to citizens in a meaningful way will require a Fighting Corruption, While Building culture change, away from one where data are stored away for internal Energy Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26 purposes to one that looks broadly at how data can be made accessible Through a Glass, Darkly. What do we for re-use by the public. The federal website Reveals mean by transparency in government? . . . . . . .28 Details of the Stimulus Spending on the $787 billion American Transparency in Government Begins Outside .29 Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It will put the data out in useable formThe Collaborative Government so that people can slice, dice and mash it up to gain meaningful Beyond Transparency in Government . . . . . . . . .31 information about how government is working. Get Ready for Wiki-Government . . . . . . . . . . . . .33 These data feeds create opportunities to look at government programs Building the Digital Public Square . . . . . . . . . . .35 in new ways that could never have been imagined by the data collectors. Open Government Serves Citizens . . . . . . . . . .37 The District of Columbia’s Apps for Democracy Contest drew upon the public’s imagination to make D.C. data more useful to constituents. Under the leadership of then-CTO Vivek Kundra, the District sponsored a 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 has since been named federal CIO. Continued on next page... The Intergovernmental 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:
  2. 2. The president’s January 21, 2009, memo on transparency and open government viewed as a word cloud. government data available is government’s need to look beyond local government is to providejust the beginning of the process. To transparency and accountability when citizens with timely, easy toreach the president’s goal, agencies delivering data to increase worker understand information on how theirmust solicit public feedback to productivity and citizen engagement. how their taxpayer dollars are beingidentify information of greatest use to Technology as a Game Changer spent. Texas Websites Improvethe public, expanding citizen looks at the transformational Accountability describes the state’sparticipation in public policy possibilities of inviting greater three initiatives aimed at improvingdecision-making. It will bring a new participation and collaboration from government accounting, spending andwave of remarkable technological citizens. Information as a Public transparency. The State of Georgia’sapplications that will have Good presents examples of Web- gateway to information and keygovernment and citizens working based geospatial technologies that documents about how the statetogether in partnership. The resulting are leveraging government data as a spends tax dollars and other revenuesnetwork within which citizens and public good. The results of a survey is outlined in Georgiastheir government can work together to conducted by Rutgers University on Commitment to Customer Servicesolve problems, will change the way the different dimensions regarding and Good Government.citizens and governments interact. what citizens are looking for in the New Zealand is moving strategically way of transparency are detailed in to use online tools to engage citizensDemocratization of Data Citizens’ Views on Transparency. and learn their views on mattersInformation technology has made important to them. Onlinedata available to everyone. This Practices at Work in Government communities are viewed as partnersdemocratization of data unveils the Web 2.0 practices are changing public working to improve the quality ofinternal workings of government and services now. Governments are government in Transparency 2.0.sets in motion the wheels of providing citizens with extraordinary Recognizing the need for a newtransformation. Unfettered Access tools that inform them and others approach in the maintenance ofto Data that Can Transform with similar interests. One of the federal records, E-discovery,Government examines the fastest growing trends in state and Continued on next page...2
  3. 3. Transparency and Culture Openness and transparency are government using collaborativeChange lays out a framework for necessary for effective government technologies.changes that will enhance access to oversight and accountability. The idea Even today, Open Governmentpublic documents. Current that transparency does not guarantee Serves Citizens, as Maryantonettmethodology for measuring accountability is explored in Through Flumian, the founding head of ServiceeGovernment progress is nearing the a Glass, Darkly: What do we mean Canada illustrates, offering numerousend of its usefulness. Measuring E- by transparency in government? examples of transparent governmentGovernment 2.0 presents a new The need for government to tap into from the public and private sectors inbenchmarking approach for the expertise of others and withstand the U.S. and around the world.measuring e-government’s return on public scrutiny is discussed in Following her lead, this newsletterinvestment. The Association of Transparency in Government offers more of the many stories ofGovernment Accountants establishes Begins Outside. As U.S. Supreme how cooperation and innovativea baseline for understanding public Court Justice Louis Brandeis so aptly technology are being used to confrontattitudes with regard to transparency put it “sunlight is the best the huge changes required to createand accountability in AGA Opens disinfectant.” an open and participativethe Doors of Government to government. The range of subjects isCitizens. Collaborative Government just the tip of the iceberg, and shows The issues of culture and policy need how better communications—on allShedding Light on Corruption to be addressed before major levels—must be a key priority forIncreasing transparency and citizen progress can be made toward a truly government in the future.participation goes a long way toward collaborative government. President Obama’s January 21 openundermining the problem of Transparency in Government government memoradum calls forcorruption. Transparency in the oil, speaks to theses challenges and the transparency, participation andgas and mining industry has been need to engage citizens to solve collaboration in government. Thesegaining traction over the last decade. today’s complex problems. Get three concepts have been underlyingFighting Corruption while Ready for Wiki-Government looks American democracy since the start,Building Energy Security looks at at the millennial generation’s use of but never have they been so central tothe paradox of resource-rich countries social networks. This generation will a presidential vision. With advancedthat are impoverished because of change the shape of America’s technologies and creative use of thecorruption and conflict. In India, land governing processes to one where Internet, a commitment to openrecords are vital documents for both some decisions will be made by government will go a long way towardfarmers and the government. They are crowds. giving the public control of the leversused to prove ownership and are of power, and encouraging Government in ancient Athens wasrequired for numerous administrative widespread participation in the civic conducted in the public square.functions. India: Revolutionary life of the nation. I People met there to debate civicLand Records reveals the incredible issues and drive policy decisions.impact computerization of land Building the Digital Public Darlene Meskell is the Director,records has had on the livelihood of Square describes how the District of Intergovernmental Solutions, GSA. Forsmall farmers. additional information contact Columbia is re-creating the public square to bring people closer to their 3
  4. 4. Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies SUBJECT: Transparency and Open Government y Administration is society, and public officials benefit M committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will from having access to that dispersed knowledge. Executive departments and agencies should offer Americans work together to ensure the public increased opportunities to trust and establish a system of participate in policymaking and to transparency, public participation, provide their Government with the and collaboration. Openness will benefits of their collective expertise strengthen our democracy and and information. Executive promote efficiency and effectiveness departments and agencies should in Government. also solicit public input on how we can increase and improve Government should be transparent. opportunities for public participation Transparency promotes in Government. accountability and provides information for citizens about what Government should be collaborative. their Government is doing. Collaboration actively engages Information maintained by the Americans in the work of their Federal Government is a national Government. Executive departments asset. My Administration will take and agencies should use innovative appropriate action, consistent with tools, methods, and systems to for an Open Government Directive, to be issued by the Director of OMB, Information maintained by the Federal that instructs executive departments and agencies to take specific actions Government is a national asset. implementing the principles set forth in this memorandum. The law and policy, to disclose cooperate among themselves, across independent agencies should comply information rapidly in forms that the all levels of Government, and with with the Open Government Directive. public can readily find and use. nonprofit organizations, businesses, Executive departments and agencies and individuals in the private sector. This memorandum is not intended to, should harness new technologies to Executive departments and agencies and does not, create any right or put information about their should solicit public feedback to benefit, substantive or procedural, operations and decisions online and assess and improve their level of enforceable at law or in equity by a readily available to the public. collaboration and to identify new party against the United States, its Executive departments and agencies opportunities for cooperation. departments, agencies, or entities, its should also solicit public feedback to officers, employees, or agents, or any I direct the Chief Technology Officer, other person. identify information of greatest use in coordination with the Director of to the public. This memorandum shall be published the Office of Management and Government should be participatory. Budget (OMB) and the Administrator in the Federal Register. I Public engagement enhances the of General Services, to coordinate Government’s effectiveness and the development by appropriate improves the quality of its decisions. executive departments and agencies, BARACK OBAMA Knowledge is widely dispersed in within 120 days, of recommendations4
  5. 5. Reveals Details States were also expected to create their own Recovery Act pages providing data and information from, and links to,of the Stimulus Spending every participating state agency, locality and municipality in the state. The states’ certifications and theirBy John R. Murphy recovery pages are linked to a stateDeputy Program section of map shows’s links to state sites at the beginning of April 2009. is the government generate information about the flow ofR website created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act(Recovery Act) to track $787 billion in the stimulus funds. The website will allow users to track where the money is going, search by Additional information will be posted on and linked to as the multi-year spending program is implemented. Over time, it willfederal funds Congress appropriated to demonstrate the impact of state or Congressional district, look upstimulate the economy. It is introduced transparency in government as citizens names of Federal contractors or otheron the home page: use it increasingly to build their own recipients of Federal dollars, and sendThe Recovery Act “provides for in comments, thoughts, ideas, understanding of how their taxpayerunprecedented levels of transparency questions, and responses to anything dollars are being spent.and accountability so that you will be on the site. is overseen by theable to know how, when, and where your Recovery Accountability and also features differenttax dollars are being spent. … This Transparency Board, which reports to federal programs, updated informationwebsite,, will be the main the Vice President and is responsible about news related to the stimulusvehicle to provide each and every citizen for ensuring that federal agencies are program, and links to related webwith the ability to monitor the progress transparent and accountable in pages.The screen shot is an earlyof the recovery.” reporting and spending Recovery Act version of the home page.All federal agencies will post funds.The Board is composed of 11 For the most part, Recovery Act funds inspectors general for federal agencies,information to about the are funneled through state and local led by Earl Devaney of the Departmentsources, recipients and use of governments, which manage citizen- of the Interior.The website is managedexpenditures under the Recovery Act, facing programs. State governors were by the U.S. General Servicesto make it easy for citizens to follow given 45 days after the law was signed Administration. Iand understand the impact of the to claim the funds allocated for theirstimulus legislation. Live data feeds to states by certifying that they wouldthe site will provide raw data that can For further information about the website “request and use” the funds to createbe re-used in graphic presentations or and the distribution of Recovery Act funds, jobs and promote economic growth. go to combination with other data to 5
  6. 6. Democratization of DataUnfettered Access toData CanTransform GovernmentBy W. David StephensonPrincipalStephenson Strategies hen SEC ChairmanW Christopher Cox announced in December that,beginning on a phased-in basis thisyear, corporate reports to the SECmust be filed with XBRL tags so thedata would be interactive, he held upa hand-typed SEC report. It was thekind was common during mychildhood many years ago, and, Coxsaid, “When it was published, thiswas a useful report.”Back then, gathering anddisseminating data was a long andlabor-intensive process, so perhaps itwas justifiable that data only had tobe reported infrequently and only aselect few agency leaders had access transparency, however, is to ignore • Made available externally in formsto it. Unavoidable delays in some of their more creative uses. that enable civic groups,distributing data made it better for Instead, we need to think of entrepreneurs and individuals torecording past mistakes than guiding “democratizing data,” creating a become “co-creators” withdaily decisions. seamless, continuous data loop in government, integrating intoToday, it is technologically possible to which data is: applications, services, and evenhave a continuous cycle of data • Collected in data bases and businesses can use to improve civicin/data out. There is no longer warehouses life and individuals’ lives.justification for withholding data Whether it’s public companies that(unless there are overriding security • Structured (using “tags” such as XML and KML) so that it can easily now must meet the new SECand privacy issues) from anyone who regulations or agencies that mustlegitimately needs it. Today, a “useful” be queried and seamlessly shared comply with Coburn-Obama, the majorreport is a real-time report. between various systems cost involved is cleaning up andTo date, most have focused on access • Automatically syndicated so that it structuring the data by adding on theto this data for transparency (for is available when and where it is “tags.” Once tagged, data can be usedexample, the Coburn-Obama Federal needed, and, ideally, on a real-time and shared anywhere and the time andFunding Accountability and basis money spent on adding new uses isTransparency Act of 2006), so that the • Made available to all workers who negligible.public, watchdog groups and the need it, in forms they can use to That portends an excitingmedia can scrutinize it. That is manage their work and collaborate transformation for governmentimportant particularly in light of the with others workers. Many will get access to real-controversy about how the first round time, location-based information thatof money in the financial bailout was • Made available externally so that watchdog groups can analyze it, as a can really help them do their jobs(or wasn’t!) spent. better, especially if they also have means to restore public confidenceTo look at data feeds just for in government’s integrity. access to data visualization tools (the Continued on next page... 6
  7. 7. private sector Many Eyes and Swivel assigned a different color rectangle. In less than a month, 47 usablesites are good examples) that will help City blocks where multiple indicators applications were created, rangingthem interpret, make sense of, and are present (and which are at higher from do-it-yourself walking historicalshare the data. risk of serious socio-economic tours using an iPhone to a “We the problems) are immediately obvious to People” transparency & accountabilityThe District of Columbia used such an users. Because these seven sets of wiki to help the public track D.C.approach with a high-priority program data are typically created by different spending. The crowdsourcingto deliver more than 6,000 PCs to agencies, it is highly unlikely that they phenomenon offers access to data andpublic school classrooms. The team were shared in the past. Agencies that free rein to a wide range of people withcharged with executing the project had might have previously treated differing interests and expertise.access to the District’s GIS systems, symptoms of decay in isolation can BTW: I wonder which agency will beand created custom Google Maps now see which blocks must be the first to sponsor an internal “Appsallowing them to deliver and install all addressed first and work together, for Democracy” contest that allows itsof the PCs in only 7 weeks. An earlier reducing the cost and increasing their employees, no matter whether they’replan, without the data-sharing tools, effectiveness. in IT or not, to design a widget or otherhad estimated the project would take a application that would help their co-year. Finally, democratizing data can workers! facilitate an uncharted area ofAnother example of how real-time government innovation, in which the Why stop with accountability if theaccess to actionable data can public takes structured data feeds and same mechanism that makes possibletransform government was pointed out creates new computer applications automatic delivery of structured databy the Neighborhood Knowledge LA that provide real service to the public. can also help government workers be(NKLA) project, a collaboration The District of Columbia was again more productive and even involvebetween UCLA and neighborhood the pioneer in this regard, with its citizens in designing innovativegroups. They used the Center for “Apps for Democracy” contest in 2008. applications to supplement traditionalNeighborhood Technology’s Design firms and individuals were governmental services. I’d call that“Neighborhood Early Warning invited to use one or more of the more Transparency Plus. ISystem,” which looks at seven than 260 different data feeds in theindicators of neighborhood decline, “Citywide Data Warehouse” to drive W. David Stephenson is an e-gov and Websuch as code violations and/or applications that would increase 2.0 consultant and theorist. He is the leadproperty taxes in arrears. NKLA’s site transparency or enable public use of author of the forthcoming Democratizingplots the information on city maps, Data. the data.with each of the seven factorsTechnology as a Game-Changer proposed a “contracts and influence database” that publicizes how much money federal contractors receive, how much they spend on lobbying,By Darrell M. WestVice President and Director of Governance Studies and how effectively they fulfillBrookings Institution government contracts. Improving transparency through online information will be a great boon to researchers, reporters, and ordinary he goal of electronic transforms the culture, organization,T citizens, and make it easier to follow government is not just to and functioning of government. the government money trail. substitute one delivery system During the campaign, candidatefor another. If people go online and Barack Obama pledged to put Digital technology represents a wayprint out a report instead of calling up detailed public sector information for government to become morethe Food and Drug Administration, online and make it searchable. He transparent and pro-active in dealingthat is not a major system stated that he wanted to create “a with citizens and businesses. Manytransformation. It doesn’t change how centralized Internet database of government agencies today aregovernment functions or how officials lobbying reports, ethics records and reactive in nature. They wait forthink about their mission. campaign finance filings in a people to request information or searchable, sortable and services. However, the InternetRather, it is important to think of allows government agencies to downloadable format.” In addition, hetechnology as a “game-changer” that customize information and push Continued on next page... 7
  8. 8. material out to people. On some Digital tools offer the potential to domestic agenda (health caregovernment websites, you can involve more people in decision- reform).register as having interests in making. Before President Obama There are 13 million email addressesparticular subjects. Let’s say you are a signs legislation, he plans to wait five in the Obama campaign database.soybean farmer in Iowa and have days to allow for public comments. After the election, the campaign sentregistered that interest with the U.S. People will be able to go to a website a survey to each of these, asking forDepartment of Agriculture website. and say,”Yes, you should sign this zip code, phone number, issueWhen new research comes out of bill” or”No, you shouldn’t, and these interests (such as gay rights,Iowa State University on soybeans, or are the reasons why you shouldn’t.” In disability, health care, or education),market conditions change, the same vein, the Environmental and willingness to contact publicgovernment agencies can email Protection Agency has been using e- officials. It is obvious what Obama isreports to those people and say here rulemaking on proposed federal going to do with this something you should know about. regulations to broaden citizen When tough votes come beforeIt brings a different mentality to participation in government. The Congress, he is going to askgovernment and puts agencies in the Brookings Press is publishing a book supporters to contact legislators inmold of helping people where they entitled Wiki-Government by Beth same way President Reagan did inwant to be helped. You can envision Noveck formerly a professor at New 1981 with letters and phone callssimilar applications in health care, York Law School, and now in the when he wanted to pass his landmark It is important to think of technology as a “game-changer” that transforms the culture, organization, and functioning of government. tax cut legislation. Electroniceducation, climate change, and Office of Science and Technology technology will allow Obama tovariety of other areas. If someone Policy at the White House. It is terrific harness his grass roots movement toattends a public school in Cleveland, research on how governments can further his political objectives.Ohio, local education officials can harness the power of collectivenotify parents of important knowledge in decision-making. She When you add all these thingsdevelopments affecting that school. proposes that agencies such as the together, Obama has the potential toHospitals can target people Patent and Trademark Office set up use technology to improveinterested in staying up-to-date on wikis in which people can comment government transparency anddiabetes treatments by sending them on proposed patents and help reinvigorate democracy. His mostmaterial on new research in the area. authorities decide what truly is new. important challenge, though, will be public and media cynicism. PublicInformation technology provides The digital revolution gives political trust in government is at an all-timefeedback on how agencies are doing. leaders a way to bring outside low. When people are cynical, theyI visited China a couple of years ago pressure to bear on Congress and don’t believe anyone really is going toas part of a technology delegation. thereby help break the partisan make a difference. But if Obama canGoing through passport control when gridlock that has plagued our national maintain the sense of hope, he willwe landed at the Beijing Airport, I government for years. There has been become our first truly digitalnoticed an electronic device that inaction on leading issues such as president. Iasked me to rate the performance of health care, Social Security, climatethe passport officer on a 1 to 4 scale. change, and immigration. PresidentThis represented an innovative Obama has substantial Democratic Darrell M. West is Vice President andexample of introducing transparency majorities in the House and Senate, Director of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. He is the author ofand accountability into the system. If but he should remember that Digital Government: Technology andthere is a spike upward in complaints Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Public Sector Service and previously wasabout a particular official or specific Clinton had the same thing early in the Director of the Taubman Center foragency, administrators know there is each of their administrations. Neither Public Policy at Brown University. Fora problem and this feedback provides of those Democratic presidents was additional information contactan opportunity to address inadequate able to get much passed and Clinton was not able to get Congress to take a single vote on the centerpiece of his8
  9. 9. Information as a Public GoodBy Sean Gorman, PhDCEO and FounderFortiusOneIntroduction asking agencies to share with citizens with companies and non-profits can be viewed as a public good. If the taking open government data andThe new administration has made EPA makes information on the creating sophisticated technology andtransparent and open government a location of toxic dumping available, services around them. A stellartop priority. As part of this mission, and I use that data to inform my example of this is the phenomenalagencies are encouraged to “harness neighborhood of hazards, I have not growth of Web-based geospatialnew technologies to put information inhibited anyone else from using the technologies – often called theabout their operations and decisions data for other purposes. There is a GeoWeb. Google Earth uses dataonline and readily available to the societal benefit to making information from NASA, NOAA, U.S. Navy,public.” Further, agencies are asked open and available to the public. National Geo-spatial-Intelligenceto view information as a “national Agency and other governmentasset” to be shared with the citizens. This concept is not new, but if we agencies to create the virtualI would contend that the information connect the idea to technology there panoramas of our planet. The government can make information available as reports, maps and charts, but it can also make it available as data.President Obama is asking is the opportunity to create even EveryBlockgovernment to share with citizens is a greater benefits beyond transparency. Another innovative example ispublic good. If we view information The government can make Everyblock, a web application thatas a public good then there is the information available as reports, combines metropolitan data likeopportunity to not only create maps and charts, but it can also make crime, road construction, buildingtransparency but also save it available as data. Specifically, permits, and sanitation violationsgovernment resources and money government can provide the raw statistics and makes informationwhile stimulating the economy. First source data that is the foundation for easily accessible to the public forwe need to clearly define the meaning reports and statistics. The first consumption. The image below showsof public good. benefit of this approach is that it the results for recent crimes in the provides greater transparency of Federal Triangle neighborhood ofInformation as a Public Good government. Any individual or group Washington D.C. would be able to check the validity ofIn economics the concept of a “public statistics and conclusions drawn from In both instances open public data isgood” describes a situation in which information produced by the being made available to the public inthe consumption of a good or service government. This provides another an attractive and consumable one individual does not reduce avenue for citizens to participate and Not only do these applications makeavailability of the good or service for collaborate with government. the data more transparent, they haveothers; therefore no one can be also fueled innovation and businessexcluded from using it. A classic The GeoWeb as a Use Case creation.example of a public good is alighthouse. All ships benefit from the From a technology perspective, open data has the positive externality of Apps for Democracylighthouse, and if more ships benefitfrom the lighthouse that does not creating opportunities for citizens and Vivek Kundra, the former D.C. CTOadversely affect the community of “the market” to innovate with the has leveraged the combination ofships. As opposed to an apple which data. If the government can provide open government data with theis a finite resource. If I take a bite of well-organized data in common technology community to greatthe apple, there is less of the apple for formats, then technology and services success. He made D.C. governmentyou. From this perspective, the can be built on top of the data. There data open to the public in commoninformation President Obama is has been enormous success already formats then ran a contest, “Apps for Continued on next page... 9
  10. 10. Democracy,” for developers to create contributors and 800 million data receiving higher quality data in return,innovative applications with the data. points. When OpenStreetMap came and arguably the data has drivenThis contest resulted in the to the United States, the Census production of technology applicationsdevelopment and submission of 47 Bureau’s TIGER line street data were that the government would haveapplications. The D.C. CTO’s office already available in the public domain. contracted for. Further, theestimated that the cost of having the This provided a huge jump-start for government has created an economicD.C. government develop these apps OpenStreetMap and the team quickly stimulus by providing data aroundwould have exceeded $2 million and began updating and correcting errors which business can be built. Ofrequired 1-2 years of effort between in the data. special significance is the innovation-contracting, procurement and based economic stimulus for small Now there is a resource with updateddevelopment. The contest cost a total and medium sized businesses, which and more accurate TIGER dataof $50,000 and was delivered in 30 are the backbone of America’s job available for the public. This costdays. Not only did Kundra’s efforts creation engine. Most importantly, Census no additional resources andenable more transparency around these projects and the approaches no additional budget. In addition, theD.C. Government, they also saved the outlined serve the purpose of making data made available bycity a substantial amount of money. government more transparent and OpenStreetMap has provided the inviting greater participation and foundation for several technologyOpenStreetMap collaboration. Each of these examples start-ups creating new jobs and built a community around the dataThe benefits to government of making innovation in the marketplace. that is passionate about both itsdata public do not stop with saving accuracy and application. We have amoney. In the United Kingdom, much Conclusion collective opportunity to promoteof the data produced by the change that will revitalize the All four examples; Google Earth,government is sold for a fee. This is economy and society, and this is one EveryBlock, Apps for Democracy andespecially true in the case of path that will get us closer to those OpenStreetMap, demonstrate thegeospatial data, where the Ordinance lofty goals. I potential of leveraging governmentSurvey charges large sums of money data as a public good. The public hasfor a variety of geospatial data. This greatly benefited from the Sean Gorman founded FortiusOne in 2005led to the creation of a non-profit technologies built around the data, to bring advanced geospatial technologiesproject called OpenStreetMaps, to market. For further information, contact and the use of the data has notwhere volunteers use consumer GPS, removed value from the government.units and Web software to map out 703.247.9280 or, In fact the government has gained –street infrastructure. The project has 703.622.4878. saving money, saving resources,gone global with more than 80,00010
  11. 11. Citizen Views OnTransparencyBy Suzanne J. Piotrowski andGregg Van RyzinRutgers University - Newark he proper balance between Research Method there are several dimensions to theT governmental secrecy and open government is at the forefrontof contemporary public debate. The data for our analysis come from an online survey conducted in March 2005 of participants in the public’s demand for transparency, including fiscal, safety, and government concerns, and principledIntuitively, it seems individuals differ openness. Age, political ideology,in their level of demand for eTownPanel project, an opt-in e-mail confidence in government leaders,governmental transparency. panel of approximately 6,044 active frequency of contacting government,Governmental transparency is the participants (at the time of the study). and especially the perception thatdegree to which there is access to The eTownPanel project is a there is currently not enough accessgovernment-held information. Some university-affiliated, foundation- to government appear to drive thefeel strongly about the need to access funded online research resource public’s demand for transparency,government information and to learn created to provide a general although determinants differ for eachmore about what government is doing, population of volunteers to dimension. Some, although not all, ofwhereas others are less interested. participate in surveys about local these factors also predict citizens’ Those who view government as already adequately open demand less transparency, whereas those who see government as closed seek more.Moreover, people differ in terms of the community issues and government actual requests for governmentkinds of government information they performance, in particular surveys to access. Using data from a sponsored by local nonprofit organizations, government agencies, Our analysis reveals some insights onnational online survey, we develop and academic researchers. Volunteers the structure and possibleseveral indices to measure citizens’ are recruited from various online determinants of public demand fordemand for local governmental postings and e-mail lists and are not a transparency at the local level. Theretransparency and to identify its random sample of the U.S. population. appear to be potentially differentcorrelates. Invitations were sent via e-mail to the dimensions to the public’s demand forTwo initial questions are addressed in entire panel, and a total of 1,819 governmental transparency,this study: (a) How can we measure completed the questionnaire, for a dimensions related to public finances,citizens’ desire or demand for panel response rate of 30percent. safety, the principle of opengovernmental transparency, and government, and the notion of good orspecifically, are there different The survey asked a large number of honest government. In addition, ourdimensions to such a demand? and questions about transparency in analysis suggests several key(b) What personal and contextual government, as well as questions determinants of these various formsfactors are correlated with variation about other attitudes and behaviors of public demand for the level of demand for that were hypothesized to be potential Perhaps the public’s perception ofgovernmental transparency? We focus correlates or determinants of the how much openness currently existson local government transparency demand for transparency. We in government emerges as abecause citizens have a more direct conducted an exploratory factor significant factor across the variousstake in local issues (like crime and analysis to reduce the transparency measures of demand for use) and because the data for items and to create scales. Those who view government asour research, explained more fully already adequately open demand lessbelow, come from a survey research Findings transparency, whereas those who seeproject focused on local government The data and analysis suggest that government as closed seek more.affairs. People who are politically engaged Continued on next page... 11
  12. 12. and who frequently contact Finally, a number of potential these issues to either confirm orgovernment also tend to demand predictors we expected to be related disprove the expected relationships.more transparency. to the demand for transparency failed This research begins to develop a way to enter significantly into our models.The trust-in-government literature of measuring dimensions of the Although past literature identifieshas found that there is a relationship public’s demand for transparency, and race as related to trust in governmentbetween trust in government and the some of the determinants of these and satisfaction with governmentperception that democracy is dimensions. Because no previous services, race was not related to“working well.” In three of the five research has attempted to measure attitudes toward transparency. Racescales, confidence in local officials these concepts, this study should be was, however, related to the behaviorhad a statistically significant, seen as providing an exploratory, of obtaining government documents.negative relationship to demand for empirical foundation for future work People who are politically engaged and who frequently contact government also tend to demand more transparency.transparency. The more confidence Conclusions on the topic. The results presentedcitizens have in their local officials, provide both predicted and surprisingthe less they are interested in fiscal, Our questionnaire focused almost results. More thought and attentionprincipled, and good government exclusively on the municipal needs to be turned to this topic totransparency. Senator John Cornyn of government level. This is appropriate better understand the link betweenTexas stated that “open government because individuals have so much of demand for transparency and itsis fundamentally an American issue, their government contact at the local potential correlates. Inot a Republican or Democrat issue.” level. Even with this is mind, it isUsing party affiliation as a proxy for possible that national-level issues This is based on a research article titledideology, Republican Cornyn is half affect individuals’ demand for “Citizen Attitudes Toward Transparency inright. Self-identified conservatives transparency of local-level Local Government” published in the in Theand liberals were both interested in documents, the most obvious of which American Review of Publictransparency, just different types of are national defense and homeland Administration (2007; volume 37 No.3transparency. Although conservatives security. A question, or series of p306-323). Suzanne Piotrowski and Gregg questions, ascertaining respondents’ Van Ryzin are both faculty members of thequestioned the need for transparency School of Public Affairs and Administrationmore than liberals, they also were views on these topics could be at Rutgers University-Newark. Formore concerned than liberals about included in future research. The additional information contactaccessing safety-related information. perceived high cost of governmental andSelf-identified liberals, on the other transparency and the desire for, were more concerned with personal privacy are two possibleaccessing government information on reasons why individuals may wantprinciple and for good governance less transparency. Future researchconcerns. should include questions that address12
  13. 13. Practices at Work in GovernmentTexas Websites Improve AccountabilityBy Susan CombsComptrollerState of Texas n the Texas State Comptroller’s In 2007, the Texas Legislature asked contracts, individual purchasers canI Office, we continuously pore over budgets in keeping the books forour agency and the State of Texas as a the Comptroller’s office to create an advisory council with other state agencies to examine uniform financial leverage the state of state’s bulk buying power to receive lower prices. Our office expects Texas to save atwhole — a large task, and one that accounting in state government. least $28 million in phase one of Texasshould be open to scrutiny. By my Today, Texas state agencies use many Smart Buy. The savings and cost-fourth day as Comptroller, we sets of books with sometimes avoidance represent more thanpublished all of our agency conflicting accounting data. Any 8percent of state spending for certainexpenditures online, right down to the given agency might use its own goods and services. Already, Texaspencils. And thanks to our Where the bookkeeping methods and codes for has identified these savings and costMoney Goes website, our tracking and classifying items, a avoidances:expenditures and those of other state recipe for duplication that can makeagencies are available and easily • Overnight/express mail — the state accurate statewide bookkeeping ansearchable online. saved 34percent, or $3.8 million, enormous challenge. With the SingleIn these tough economic times, all Set of Books Initiative, our office will and awarded a significant portiontaxpayers — at the city, county, state work with agencies to present a report of this contract to a Texas-basedand federal levels — deserve to know to the Legislature on ways that state vendor.their tax dollars are used wisely. Just accounting systems and processes • Outgoing mail machines — theas working families must cut can be made more accurate and state saved 20percent, or $876,000,expenses and look for ways to save, useful in decision-making. by negotiating a new contract withall governments must tighten their a long-time vendor. Uniform financial reporting across allbelts and make the most of every state agencies and higher education • Fleet —the state expects to save $7dollar. institutions will shine the brightest million on fleet vehicles throughOur office endeavors to do its part in light on the state’s finances and allow contract negotiations. Also, for theimproving Texas government state leaders to obtain real-time, first time, the state will look beyondtransparency, and some of our reliable information to make well- the sticker price to consider theinitiatives may stand as templates for informed decisions. cost of fueling vehicles for 100,000other governments in crafting miles.transparency initiatives. Taking a Second Initiative:common-sense approach to the issue, As one of the largest purchasing Texas Smart Buy entities in the nation, our state iswe recently introduced Open BookTexas, a three-part set of initiatives Transparency helps spotlight making that leverage work for us. Foraimed at improving government spending inefficiencies after the fact, years, families have used strategiesaccounting accuracy, spending and and our office also works to make like buying in bulk to save money, andtransparency. Texas state government a better it makes sense for governments to shopper from the outset. That is have the same option.First Initiative: where Texas Smart Buy helps.Single Set of Books The initiative gives agencies and Third Initiative: local governments access to an online Texas Transparency Check-UpTo shine more light on state agency shopping cart — much like shopping With the rollout of a new website,bookkeeping, beyond our Where the at popular online retailers — that Texas Transparency Check-Up, ourMoney Goes online expenditure allows them to purchase goods and office expands on previous onlinedatabase, we are pursuing an services through state-negotiated accountability efforts and encouragesinitiative to introduce more uniformity contracts. By purchasing from those transparency at all levels of Texasin Texas government accounting. Continued on next page... 13
  14. 14. government finance. The website public. Transparency and wise spending areoffers transparency guidance to local important during the best of times and The website highlights localgovernments and provides Texans an absolutely essential in an uncertain government success stories, providesopportunity to see how well their local economy where there are no dollars to links to exemplary local governmentgovernments stack up in offering waste. To operate with the utmost websites and gives taxpayers tips toonline access to financial information. integrity, all governments should ensure that their government is open show the same common sense,In implementing this initiative, we and accountable. resourcefulness and thrift whenresearched the financial transparency When you know what you are spending money as taxpayers. Iof the top 50 Texas cities, Texas spending, you know how to spendcounties, school districts and other better. Our office is committed to Susan Combs was elected Texaslocal entities. Texas Transparency seeing that philosophy spread to Comptroller of Public Accounts inCheck-Up reveals the results. The site every level of government. In the age November of 2006. For an in-depth look atalso offers local governments step- Open Book Texas initiatives, visit of the Internet, there is seldom aby-step advice for posting information reason to not publish publiconline and presenting it in a way that information readable and understandable to the14
  15. 15. Georgia’s Commitment to CustomerService and Good GovernmentBy the Georgia Governor’s Office of Communications and the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office of Media Relations eorgia elected officials show a the website allows you to find Government initiative. Georgians canG commitment to government transparency and high ethicalstandards through the use of professional services expenditures made by state organizations. Open Georgia also includes financial reports access her agency’s budget and monthly expenditures, with detailed information on spending Through the Open Georgia containing the Comprehensive Annual The Secretary of State’s websitewebsite ( and Financial Report, budgetary highlights the agency’s ethics policythe Secretary of State’s Transparency compliance reports, the Budget in and Secretary Handel’s personal andin Government website Brief and single audits. The site allows campaign financial disclosures.(, Georgians to review payments to “Responsible fiscal managementcitizens have direct access to detailed vendors doing business with the state begins with a commitment toaccounts of government spending. during the two previous fiscal years. transparency and accountability,” SheThe Open Georgia site was created by The website also allows citizens to said. “Georgia taxpayers deserve tothe Transparency in Government Act search for reports that evaluate how know how their tax dollars are beingand formally launched on January 5, well various state programs are spent, and I am pleased to provide2009. operating, including performance them with that information.” audits, program evaluations, and“The Open Georgia website makes In addition to these new tools, Georgia special examinations released by thestate government more transparent to lawmakers continue to look for Department of Audits and Accountsits customer, the taxpayer,” said additional ways to make public over the last five years. In 2010, it willGeorgia Governor Sonny Perdue at the information easily accessible. Rep. Ed be expanded to include grant andtime. “By being willing to further open Lindsey introduced legislation in the contact payments to vendors by statethe halls of government to the public, 2009 session of the General Assembly agencies.we give citizens more confidence that that would require counties, cities andtheir tax dollars are being spent There are numerous ways to search for school boards with budgets over $1wisely.” salary and vendor information. Users million to develop a free, searchable can search by name, title, description website that would include all sources “We have taken a major step towards and agency and export search results of revenue, itemized by amount; thefully open and easily accessible to Microsoft Excel or Adobe .pdf entity’s annual budget; a list of allaccounting of how every state tax formats. contracts and obligations of more thandollar is spent,” said its sponsor State $1,000; and an itemization of salariesSenator Chip Roberts. “The very best To ensure that the website is able to and other expenses paid to all publicway to prevent wasteful government carry out its mission the state has officials and employees.spending is to let those paying the bills trained operators at its main phonesee exactly where their money is number, 1-800-GEORGIA, to direct Georgia officials know governmentgoing.” citizens to a specific web address or to functions best when it is made answer detailed questions about the accountable to the citizens who fund it.Open Georgia allows citizens online state’s performance. The commitment Georgia’s dedication to makingaccess to agency expenditures on to provide further details on spending information easily accessibleprofessional services, employee is part of a larger commitment from the demonstrates that the state continuessalaries and travel expenses, state state to make government more to lead the way in truly becoming afinancial reports and program reviews. customer-friendly. citizen-friendly government. IIn the Salaries and TravelReimbursements section, the public Georgia Secretary of State Karencan find salaries and travel Handel has demonstrated a For additional information, please contactreimbursements paid to employees of commitment to government the Georgia Governor’s Office of Communications at 404-651-7774, or thethe state and employees of local transparency, ethics and responsible Georgia Secretary of State’s Office of Mediaboards of education. The “professional stewardship of taxpayer dollars Relations at 404-656-4269.Services and Expenditure” section of through her agency’s Transparency in 15
  16. 16. Transparency 2.0 processing power, tools, bandwidth, and mobile computing -- that was previously only available to large organisations and governments.By Laurence MillarDeputy Commissioner and Government CIO Futurists point to non-linear changeState Services Commission which means that people’s capabilitiesNew Zealand will only accelerate. The Web has gone from read-only to read-write. The 2.0 dynamic is very hanks to the popularity of the mostly by individual agencies. The different from the 1.0 state. People areT term Web 2.0, the suffix ‘2.0’ is being applied to just aboutanything. However, there is one benefit State Services Commission, in its leadership role of the State Services, provides information and metrics at an treated as partners, equals in pursuit of shared outcomes and common goals. In turn, this is driving thefrom this indiscriminate labelling. It all-of-government level. Two notable expectations that people have ofhelps frame some important examples are the Kiwis Count survey, government.questions—What is the current 1.0 which looks at perceptions of thestate? What are the limitations of the public service, and the annual Human Change is happening now.1.0 state? What are the drivers for the Resource Capability survey of the There are too many examples around2.0 state? Finally, how do we get there? government workforce. the world to ignore. Oft-quoted examples include New Zealand’sTransparency 1.0 Limitations of the 1.0 state TheyWorkForYou and the UK’sThe people’s right to know is a central There is always room for improvement. FixMyStreet. Less well known butpillar of democratic societies. For example, the potential to better equally powerful is Sami BenTransparency, which gives effect to systematise the release of government Gharbia’s campaign out of thethis right, is a critical element for information and to improve the Netherlands to highlight the issue ofbuilding and maintaining trust in operation of the Official Information political prisoners in Tunisia. Hisgovernment. Effectively holding Act has been identified. efforts include a Google map mashupgovernment accountable for services, of the semi-secret locations where the Notwithstanding the improvements prisoners are being held with YouTubedecisions, and spending taxpayers’ that can and should be made to the videos and a depends on transparency. current transparency regime, there areTransparency 1.0 is underpinned by a limitations inherent in the dynamic andlegislative framework. For example, in mindset that Transparency 1.0 Getting to Transparency 2.0New Zealand the Official Information addresses. Either people ask for Three things can facilitateAct allows people, with very few information and government responds Transparency 2.0 and enhance publicexceptions, to get the information they or the government makes it available value.want from ministers and government under a legislative or good-practice First, the default should be that allorganisations. Fiscal transparency is imperative. The underlying assumption non-personal data and informationmandated by the Public Finance Act is one of inequality; a mindset of held by government is publiclyand the Reserve Bank of New Zealand opposing interests that requires a available. This requires a huge shift inAct. watchdog. attitudes and practices and isOur robust transparency regime has In this situation, transparency provides therefore likely to be part of a largerbeen internationally recognised. New a vital check and balance dynamic. renewal of the democratic fabric. It isZealand is joint first with Denmark and However, Transparency 1.0 by its very a worthy goal and even incrementalSweden on Transparency nature cannot act as a major enabling steps are welcome. The ScandinavianInternational’s 2008 Corruption lever that uses transparency’s countries present good examples ofPerception Index (see potential to fundamentally transform what can be While the list the relationship between people and Second, data and information shouldleaders have changed over the years, government. be freely available and usable. ThisNew Zealand remains near the top. means it is easy to find; in openThis isn’t by resting on previous Change drivers machine-readable formats; hasachievements but by actively working The easiest way to describe the adequate metadata; licensing ison openness, trust, and transparency. drivers of change is to point to the standardised with no or minimalThe legislative framework is emergence of Web 2.0. The average constraints on reuse; pricing iscomplemented by other measures, person now has the capability -- reasonable (zero cost being the norm); Continued on next page...16