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Open Data, Open Government


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In this class, we looked at the efforts to open up government in the United States from within and without.

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Open Data, Open Government

  1. 1. DPI-665Politics of the Internet April 2, 2012 Open Data, Open Government Micah L. Sifry Audio: CC-BY-NC-SA
  2. 2. Topics for discussion• How far has the Obama Administration taken the “open government” moment?• “Sousveillance” (watching from below): What is its potential? What are its limits?
  3. 3. Principles of Govt 2.0• Open by default• Open to self-service• Tap the wisdom outside of govt• Let people experiment• This is not necessarily “participatory democracy” or “direct democracy” or “deliberative democracy”
  4. 4. Govt 2.0 Requires Open Govt• Open data (transparency) as a precondition for participation, collaboration• Malamud: “The first wave—the Founder’s wave —established the principle that government must communicate with the people. Next, the Lincoln wave established the principles of documentation and consultation. We are now witnessing a third wave of change —an Internet wave—where the underpinnings and machinery of government are used not only by bureaucrats and civil servants, but by the people.”
  5. 5. Obama, Day One“Government should be transparent. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing.Government should be participatory. Public engagement enhances the Governments effectiveness and improves the quality of its decisions. Knowledge is widely dispersed in society, and public officials benefit from having access to that dispersed knowledge.Government should be collaborative. Collaboration actively engages Americans in the work of their Government.”
  6. 6. Obama’s Mixed Record• Open Govt Directive led to release of OSHA safety data, IRS migration data, NASA FOIA docs, DOJ jail data, Hospital outcome of care measures• central repository created• White House visitor logs released (partially)• “We the People” e-petition site•• Many agencies using social media, but have failed to comply or did little to open data
  7. 7. What Obama Didn’t Do• Provide centralized ethics and lobbying info• Create a public “contracts and influence” database• Conduct more government business in public• Consistently post bills online before signing
  8. 8. What Obama Made Worse• Continued invoking “state secrets” privilege• Crackdown on government whistleblowers• More classification of documents• Fewer FOIA responses
  9. 9.• “We’re actually going to set up something called…that gives you a report on where the money is going in your community…so that you can be the eyes and ears…you’ll be able to get on that website and say ‘You know, I thought this was supposed to be going to school construction but I haven’t noticed any changes being made.’” --Obama, Elkart, IN, Feb 9, 2009
  10. 10. Meanwhile, the culture is changing faster…• Sousveillance: watching from below• Crowd-funding of live-blogging (Firedoglake Libby trial coverage)• Crowd-scouring of raw data (earmarks, Parliament’s spending records)• Platforms for reporting and checking: Ushahidi, SwiftRiver and Crowdmap