The Obama administration’s release of the Open Government Directive
in late 2009 launched efforts across executive branch agencies to enhance transparency, participation, and collaboration. The agencies responded with open government plans that outline specific initiatives to comply with the Directive. The plans serve as roadmaps showing how agencies can advance the key principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration through new or enhanced programs and services. The results of the Directive at the federal level have been matched by expanded open government activities in many state and local governments.
These expanded open government initiatives have not been matched, however, by an expanded capability to assess their impact or overall value. The stated goal of these programs and policies is the pursuit of transparency, participation, and collaboration, ideas that resonate in familiar and positive ways. Without further elaboration and framing, however, these ideas do not provide a basis to compare alternative initiatives, to say how they have opened government, or how much public value they may produce. There has been little attention to what actions and programs count as transparent, participative, or collaborative, and from whose perspective such judgments should be evaluated.
Through a series of initiatives, CTG considers open government from multiple perspectives, within the context of the academic field of e-government, and in a broader context in public administration. Delving into questions such as- What does it mean for government to be “open” and what are the means by which information available to citizens will be both useful and accessible? How should leaders administer agencies within the executive branch facilitate openness and how is that best assessed?