Three Pillars of Open Government

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Australian Senator Kate Lundy:

"For the Australian government, an opportunity to construct what I see as the three pillars of Open Government is presented. Each of these pillars assumes the basic principle of citizen engagement at every possible opportunity to both empower people, and to ensure the results are actually appropriate and useful.

The three pillars of open government.

   * Citizen-centric services
   * Open and transparent government
   * Innovation facilitation

The first pillar of open government is citizen-centric services. The principle is one of recognition that governments have a responsibility to serve the needs of the citizens they represent as best they can, and in a way that is individually meaningful to each person. A fundamental tenet of democracy, to be sure, but a more literal interpretation suggests a much higher priority on the quality of the interaction between citizen and government as services are delivered. The three spheres of government in Australia: local, state/territory and federal, has over the years created inordinate complexity for citizens organising their lives and an avalanche of information and forms to shift through to get anywhere. We now have the technology and the wherewithal to resolve this citizen interface with government, regardless of the complexity behind the scenes. Service innovation is already happening and citizens ought be engaged directly by the Government to try new things.


The second pillar is open and transparent government. This pillar builds on the principles that citizens have a right to the information they need to inform themselves about public and political affairs, and to participate in the democratic processes in an informed way. This second pillar is to ensure genuine means of engagement between citizens and the government in policy and decision-making. This is always harder than it sounds but it is essential to garner the wisdom of the crowd. It is vital that government engage with the broader community not just for a conversation, but in genuine partnership between political leaders and the people so we can as a society respond most effectively to the specific social and economic challenges communities confront. This localisation of policy solutions is essential to ensure relevance of government solutions to real situations, and essential to ensure a reasonable response time to new issues and emergencies. Open and transparent government will grow citizen trust and ultimately participation in policy development and government directions.

The third pillar is innovation facilitation, which refers to the government responsibility to ensure the opportunities are made available for public and private innovation that adds value to government data and systems. This of course takes into account the fact that there are specific data and systems that cannot be openly accessible where there are privacy, security or commercial responsibilities. However, as has been evident in the US for many years, open access to government data can dramatically increase the value created from the data both socially and economically. This means the society as a whole benefits from access to the data. Public sector information ought to be in the public domain not just to facilitate innovation in the public and private spheres, but to enable individual citizens to make informed choices. Just to be clear, I am not talking about personal information that we expect to be private and secure. I am talking about general information about the places we live, the environment we live in, the things we do as a society. This principle should also extend to cultural collections for which the Commonwealth is custodian on behalf of the people of Australia. Transparency in this area would ensure that there is a culture of scrutiny and collaboration rather than a culture of secrecy. Finally, the need for sustainable access to all this information in the future is essential. Open standards and formats become the public insurance policy to ensure perpetual access to government data." (http://www.katelundy.com.au/2009/06/20/three-pillars-of-open-government/)


More Information

  1. Open Government