05 April 2009

Top 10 Measurements for Open Government

One of the most exciting applications of openness in recent months has been to government. A year ago, open government was sporadic and pretty forlorn as a field; today it is flourishing, notable under the alternative name of "transparency". At the forefront of that drive is the Sunlight Foundation, which has just published a suggested top 10 measurements of just how open a government real is:

1. Open data: The federal government should make all data searchable, findable and accessible.

2. Disclose spending data: The government should disclose how it is spending taxpayer dollars, who is spending it and how it’s being spent.

3. Procurement data: How does the government decide where the money is getting spent, who gets it, how they are spending it and how can we measure success.

4. Open portal for public request for information: There should be a central repository for all Freedom of Information Act requests that are public to that people can see in real time when the requests come in, how fast the government responds to them.

5. Distributed data: The government should make sure it builds redundancy in their system so that data is not held in just one location, but held in multiple places in case of a disaster, terrorist attack or some other reason where the data is damaged. Redundancy would guarantee government could rebuild the data for future use.

6. Open meetings: Government meetings should be open to the public so that citizens can tell who is trying to influence government. All schedules should be published as soon as they happen so that people can see who is meeting with whom and who is trying to influence whom.

7. Open government research: Currently, when government conducts research, it usually does not report the data it collects until the project is finished. Government should report its research data while its being collected in beta form. This would be a measure of transparency and would change the relationship that people have to government research as it is being collected.

8. Collection transparency: Government should disclose how it is collecting information, for whom are they collecting the data, and why is it relevant. The public should have the ability to judge whether or not it valuable to them, and giving them the ability to comment on it.

9. Allowing the public to speak directly to the president: Recently, we saw the president participate in something called “Open for Questions,” where he gave the public access to ask questions. This allowed him to burst his bubble and be in touch with the American public directly is another measure of transparency.

10. Searchable, crawl able and accessible data: If the government were to make all data searchable, crawl able and accessible we would go along way in realizing all the goals presented at the Gov 2.0 Camp.

Great stuff, exciting times. Now, if only the UK government could measure up to these....

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François Elie said...

"The weapons of criticism suppose the criticism of weapons"... how to realize this open philosophy of government with closed tools, especially proprietary software, and commercial standards.

Open source and open standards are means to built a true open governement.

Glyn Moody said...

You won't find me disagreeing with that on *this* blog....

Anonymous said...

But how much data can the government classify as sensitive and withhold? What would qualify as sensitive? As much as I'd like to find the launch codes for our nuclear arsenal in Google results, I think it would probably be best not to have the rest of the world snooping about.

Glyn Moody said...

Well, if our security depends *only* on keeping a few codes secret, then we're in deep trouble. If it doesn't, then it won't matter much.

Anonymous said...

>You won't find me disagreeing with that on *this* blog....<

Which blog will we find you disagreeing with this?

Glyn Moody said...

That would be in the parallel universe where I am a leading proponent for intellectual monopolies and proprietary software...