Open Government: Collaboration, Transparency, and Participation in Practice

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A new book from O’Reilly media, entitled Open Government: Collaboration, Transparency, and Participation in Practice, discusses the possible ways government can utilize the power of citizen engagement to become more efficient and transparent. The collection of essays features well-known visionaries such as Carl Malamud, Beth Noveck and Tim O’Reilly.

Open Government includes chapters by Sunlight’s Ellen Miller, Bill Allison and Micah Sifry. Their chapters deal with everything from the role of transparency in countering the weight of monied interests to the need for useful and open government data. The forces of co-innovation and transparency must be in government moving forward and this book brings together some illustrative case studies about how to proceed.  Follow this link for a sample of the first eight chapters.

Here’s a nice excerpt from the preface:

What is open government? In the most basic sense, it’s the notion that the people have the right to access the documents and proceedings of government. The idea that the public has a right to scrutinize and participate in government dates at least to the Enlightenment, and is enshrined in both the U.S. Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution. Its principles are recognized in virtually every democratic country on the planet.

But the very meaning of the term continues to evolve. The concept of open government has been influenced—for the better—by the open source software movement, and taken on a greater focus for allowing participation in the procedures of government. Just as open source software allows users to change and contribute to the source code of their software, open government now means government where citizens not only have access to information, documents, and proceedings, but can also become participants in a meaningful way. Open government also means improved communication and operations within the various branches and levels of government. More sharing internally can lead to greater efficiency and accountability.

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