Open government is the political doctrine which holds that the business of government and state administration should be opened at all levels to effective public scrutiny and oversight.
On December 8, 2009 President Obama issued The Open Government Directive which stated in part:
1. Publish Government Information Online
e. Within 60 days, each agency shall create an Open Government Webpage located at http://www.[agency].gov/open to serve as the gateway for agency activities related to the Open Government Directive and shall maintain and update that webpage in a timely fashion.
f. Each Open Government Webpage shall incorporate a mechanism for the public to:
i. Give feedback on and assessment of the quality of published information;
ii. Provide input about which information to prioritize for publication; and
iii. Provide input on the agency’s Open Government Plan (see 3.a.).
The Obama Administration's initiative should inspire a transformation in our government operations as well as increased and more effective citizen engagement. In order to succeed however, it needs participation from "we the people".
Federal Agencies need suggestions for how to meet their new openness obligations and via the internet each of us can share our ideas on how they should proceed - or vote on ideas shared by others. This kind of transparency in our government is something we should all be working toward. It is unprecedented and there is no better time than now, as agency bureaucracies re-write their rules of operation.
The Sunlight Foundation is a non-partisan, non-profit organization based in Washington, DC that focuses on "...the digitization of government data and the creation of tools and Web sites to make that data easily accessible for all citizens."
John Wonderlich, Policy Director for the foundation wrote in his blog post Now is the Time:
"Sharing your ideas now has multiple advantages. Officials at agencies all hope their open pages and dialogs will be productive. If there are more comments, and better ideas, then their work is more worthwhile.For more information about how you can help shape the future of your government go to this page at the White House web site or check out the OpenGov Tracker.
Advocates for specific issues, without regard for ideology, should all be transparency advocates. Access to information empowers meaningful, informed action, and issue advocates from every issue should be aware that they have an enormous opportunity, right now, to have their voices heard, and their needs met.
If you know of something an agency should be doing differently, now is the time to share it. If you’re a member of a group that deals with federal information, now is the time for them to become transparency advocates."