Open Government

From P2P Foundation
Jump to navigation Jump to search

= the doctrine and governance approach which holds that the business of government and state administration should be opened at all levels to effective public scrutiny and oversight to improve capacity and legitimacy of collective action


(See: OpenGovernment for a specific U.S. project)


Philipp Mueller:

"Open government is the doctrine and governance approach which holds that the business of government and state administration should be opened at all levels to effective public scrutiny and oversight to improve capacity and legitimacy of collective action. It outlines a “brave new world” of doing governance. The discourse on the topic has focused on the technical aspects (open data) and the legitimatory aspects (e-participation) but has dangerously ignored the managerial aspects (open statecraft). In the following I argue, why we should put more emphasis on this concept." (


Philipp Mueller:

"Open government introduces new logics of collective action that move beyond the “modern” core ideas of governance, which are based on institutional legitimation of processes and very restrictive information sharing (arcana imperii/state secrets, administrative secrets, business secrets, complex intellectual property rights regimes). This conceptualization of collective action as open value chains implies three important perspectives:

Open Data

"The technological perspective represented by the Open Data Movement. Open data is a philosophy and practice requiring that certain data be freely available to everyone, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control." (


"E-Participation is the use of information and communication technologies to broaden and deepen political participation by enabling citizens to connect with one another and with their elected representatives." (

Open Statecraft

Philipp Mueller:

"I propose the term open statecraft to introduce the managerial and strategic perspective, to open value creation. The term statecraft refers to the art of conducting state affairs, sometimes with sinister implication, as used by Macaulay (1855) in his Hist. Eng. xviii. IV. 163 A double treason, such as would have been thought a masterpiece of statecraft by the great Italian politicians of the fifteenth century. So open statecraft openly states the ambition of actors to utilize the logic of openness to achieve objectives. Anything else, would be insincere." (


Philipp Mueller:

"In 2010 we are confronted with new policy and management approaches in the public sector like technologically mediated policy initiation and formulation (Obama’s Open Government Initiative), distributed intelligence gathering (the US intelligence communities Intellipedia), crowdsourcing of accountability (The Guardian’s British Parliament invoice scandal platform), or peer producing political campaigning (the Obama Campaign), and social media enhanced (twitter) revolutions (Iran). No government in 2010 can afford to not use these types of new public governance. Most governments today are confronted with several policy and administrative challenges (transparency, effectiveness, corruption, legitimacy, etc.) that can be addressed by an open value creation." (


The underlying technological infrastructure

Philipp Mueller:

"The core technologies of open value creation from a managerial perspective are

  • the wiki (principle-based, user-generated platforms, with flexible moderation capacity),
  • the forum (question driven user-generated knowledge platform),
  • blogging (core message with feedback/discourse loop),
  • social networks (such as Ning-communities or Facebook groups) and
  • work flow management and visualization tools (Government resource planning, government process mapping tools, think SAP, Oracle, SugarCRM, etc.).

Together they allow us to structure policy and administrative public value creation processes, by enhancing ideation (idea-generation), deliberation (commenting and discussion), collaboration (generating public values), and accountability (parsing data to hold government accountable)." (

Key Book To Read

* Book: Daniel Lathrop and Laurel Ruma (eds.) – Open Government: Collaboration, Transparency, and Participation in Practice

Review by Adam Thierer:

"Open Government is a terrific collection of 34 essays covering the full gamut of transparency and “Government 2.0″ issues. The collection was published by O’Reilly Media and Tim O’Reilly himself has one of the best chapters in the book on “Government as a Platform.” “The magic of open data is that the same openness that enables transparency also enables innovation, as developers build applications that reuse government data in unexpected ways.” (p. 25) This explains why in their chapter on “Enabling Innovation for Civic Engagement,” David G. Robinson, Harlan Yu, and Edward W. Felten, of the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University, speak of “a new baseline assumption about the public response to government data: when government puts data online, someone, somewhere will do something valuable and innovative with it.” (p.84) “By publishing its data in a form that is free, open, and reusable,” they continue, “government will empower citizens to dream up and implement their own innovative ideas of how to best connect with their governments.” (p. 89) (

More Information

See Open Government Data for a more detailed treatment.

Videos and audio tapes on open government