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Transparency 2.0

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Nick Troiano at SocialGovernment.com has an interesting and important post about government transparency, the 2.0 version. Nick was reflecting from a discussion featured by the National Conference on Citizenship titled “In Transparency, We Trust?

He says “transparency 1.0” was government opening up its data for citizens to see. That age dawned in 1966 when Congress passed and President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Freedom of Information Act.  Another transparency 1.0 manifestation was when government entities started setting up Web sites. But the communication was all one way, flowing from government to the citizens.

But as Nick points out, our expectations of transparency in government have changed and now include participation.” This is the essence of “transparency 2.0,” where “a window between the people and their government” no longer will suffice. We need to have the ability to reach through the window and “fiddle around.” Observation is fine, but participation is now key.

Nick notes that progress has been made toward the participatory aspects of transparency 2.0. He lists congressional lawmakers communicating with their constituents via Twitter and YouTube, President Obama’s online town hall meeting and Sunlight’s PublicMarkup.org, were citizens collaborated together write and comment on sample legislation.

Lisa Rosenberg, Sunlight’s government affairs consultant, participated in the NCoC discussion, and said that the goal of transparency should be to open up discussions, improve the deliberative process, and help our democracy live up to its potential.  If government conducted its business online and in real time a more thoughtful, deliberative conversation between elected officials and the public could be created. This, in turn, would result in better public policy, more careful monitoring of the public purse, and more trust in government.

Nick predicts transparency 2.0 will be the backbone of a more social, and thus, responsive government. Empowered citizens working with public officials to make informed decisions are benefits that transparency 2.0 promises to deliver.