Micah Sifry (our strategic consultant and editor of techPresident) highlights another government transparency experiment coming out of the UK. The Power of Information Task Force is a British government agency working to improve the way government shares information with its citizens. Yesterday, the Task Force launched “Show Us a Better Way,” a contest that asks citizens to identify what they would like to see done with public information. If they like the idea they will help fund it, to the tune of £20,000 to develop the idea to the next level. Here are some examples of ideas they are looking for.
The Task Force itself just launched in March, largely because of the vision and efforts of Sunlight friend, U.K. Cabinet Office Minister and Member of Parliament Tom Watson. As Micah wrote back in April, “Watson is part of a new vanguard of political leaders who understand that the real gains are to be had in enabling people to connect to each other to identify common concerns, come up with solutions, and organize on their own behalf.”
Can you imagine a similar task force in operation in our federal government? This is such a terrific idea. The whole sentiment is so different from that of the US Government where the burden of getting information from government rests with citizens. I really like what the contest site says, “Public data is your data.” Congress and the Executive Branch could learn quite a bit from the likes of Minister Watson.