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OpenGov Conversations: Tiago Peixoto on Open Data and Citizen Engagement – Disentangling the Relationship

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This post is part of our series, OpenGov Conversations, an ongoing discourse featuring contributions from transparency and accountability researchers and practitioners around the world.

This post responds to the following question: What is the role of citizen engagement in the ability of transparency policies and initiatives to hold governments accountable?

As asserted by Jeremy Bentham nearly two centuries ago, “[I]n the same proportion as it is desirable for the governed to know the conduct of their governors, is it also important for the governors to know the real wishes of the governed.” Although Bentham’s historical call may come across as obvious to some, it highlights one of the major shortcomings of the current open government movement: while a strong focus is given to mechanisms to let the governed know the conduct of their governors (i.e. transparency), less attention is given to the means by which the governed can express their wishes (i.e. citizen engagement).

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