White House Open Government Initiative: Review

8 12 2009

The exciting news in world Gov 2.0  is the launch of the White House’s Open Government Initiative.

The means of announcement was carefully chosen: the three architects of the directive, led by open gov guru Vivek Kundra, presented it to the American people via videolink on Facebook and The Sunlight Foundation. They then answered their questions, which were submitted in a live feed.

There was much criticism of the fact that the directive itself came in an unlinkable pdf form, and in true post-bureaucratic spirit, someone had soon solved the problem:

Owen Ambur I will post the directive in StratML format at http://xml.gov/stratml/index.htm#StratPlans.

This kind of activity has been supported by private enterprise volunteering its services and software on the opengov site.


The Americans are leagues ahead of the UK in coming to terms with the post bureaucratic age. We have just released some Ordinance Survey maps (after a battle); they are soon to release this great IT Dashboard which allows anyone to track governmental technological investments.

Also covered are Data.gov (which the UK is copying); DODTechipedia, which keeps the Department of Defense abreast of technological and scientific innovations; and regulations.gov, which allows anyone to give meaningful feedback on proposed regulations while they are being drawn up, rather than retrospectively.


There were concerns over privacy (especially in healthcare); data comparability; cultural entrenchment; and all the usual legitimate questions about how this actually helps. There have been some concrete examples in the last few months, which are to be presented next week. I expect that, wonderful as these initiatives are for democracy and transparency, once they start saving serious money (and all the indications point to the fact that they are), sceptics will be much more convinced.



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