Us: Transparency, Them: Collaboration


Today, the White House, via the Office of Science and Technology Policy released the Government “Conversation on Collaboration” that they’ve been having since February, in conjuction with the public Open Government Dialogue. This conversation happened on OMBMax wiki, a wiki powered by the Office of Management and Budget.

So after our analysis on Friday of The Open Government Dialogue this gives us the opportunity to make a comparison– what are people inside the government saying vs. the general public?

Now we can see what people are saying inside the government and outside the government. I went ahead and used the rest of Sunlight’s “word cloud” credit on creating a new word cloud of what people are saying on the inside, so we could put it next to one on the outside. Here it is:

Now, this isn’t exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. For the Open Government Dialogue word cloud, I used only titles of ideas. Since there were no titles for the OMBMax wiki posting, I used the full text of everything. I tried to remove some of the less substantive words from the wiki posting like month names, and noise-words like “all” and “already” to get it to a more meaningful post. Also: on the Open Gov Dialogue site, there were over 1000 ideas, whereas the OpenGov wiki had only about 10% of that diversity.

But it looks like a disconnect: on the outside, people are talking data and transparency. On the inside, people are talking collaboration and tools. Looking closer at the Open Gov dialogue, we can take the average scores of each category and see what people voted up more, too:


The average scores tend to correlate with the word cloud for the Open Government Dialogue. Not only did people say transparency more, but on average, making data more available got more votes than building collaborative tools. Remarkably, people aren’t into participation or collaboration that much according to the votes on the Open Government Dialogue. If you bundle each subject into its parent category, here’s what you end up with for average votes:


This is a pretty interesting find with the data. It seems to me like there may be a sign that there is a hefty disconnect between what people on the outside want (data, policy changes), and what people on the inside want to build (collaborative tools, web applications). Now here’s something that hopefully we’ll be engaged in, in terms of discussion for when the next phase of the Open Government Dialogue begins later this week.

Until then, Sunlight Labs will be on a brief word cloud hiatus.