Friday, November 7, 2014

Open government in DC: the value and challenges of moving forward

The next big thing in Open Gov is a culture shift by Seamus Kraft of The OpenGov Foundation articulates the value of open.   Kraft also quotes two local government open pioneers Ward 6 CM Tommy Wells and DC Council General Counsel Dave Zvenyach.   Wells has used Madison's MadisonDC to collect comments on legislation several times (see Join DC Council Committee Hearing Online with MadisonDC and Comment on B20-825, the "Youth Offender Accountability and Rehabilitation Act of 2014").   The reasons seem rather obvious; said Wells June 23, 2014:

I'm excited to work with The OpenGov Foundation to provide an innovative, transparent way for DC residents to get involved with their government. Many people don't have the ability to take off work in order to testify about proposed legislation in the District. Madison DC will ensure that all residents have an equal opportunity to play a role in how Council's legislative process.

While MadisonDC is a terrific tool, let's be clear that not all DC residents will go online to comment on legislation.   Not only do all residents not have internet access, but many people do not have time to stay on top of all the legislative happenings.   So while MadisonDC and other tools may provide access to government, it will not ensure participation.

Perhaps a greater challenge to openness is, as the GE video below suggests, that ideas are scary.   Event more daunting is the challenge presented by the segment of the government workforce entrenched in business as usual.   It is this challenge that requires the most attention, thoughtfulness and creativity.   This small group of the government workforce can undermine openness in all its forms.

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