Making government more transparent
The relationship between government and citizen is in a fragile state. A 2010 Pew Research Center survey reports that just 22 percent believe they can trust the federal government almost always or most of the time – one of the lowest measures in half a century. The same low percentage will be the case all over the world having no confidence in one's Governments. Increasingly, the public is demanding greater visibility into government decisions, actions and results – particularly those involving their tax dollars , health, security, foreign policies, budgets etc etc. They are also calling for higher levels of accountability. The public wants to have confidence that the government is making and implementing sound decisions.

Open government is the governing doctrine which holds that citizens have the right to access the documents and proceedings of the government to allow for effective public oversight.In its broadest construction it opposes reason of state and other considerations, which have tended to legitimize extensive state secrecy. The origins of open government arguments can be dated to the time of the European Enlightenment: to debates about the proper construction of a then nascent democratic society.

Transparency in government is often credited with generating government accountability.Transparency often allows citizens of a democracy to control their government, reducing government corruption, bribery and other malfeasance. Some commentators contend that an open, transparent government allows for the dissemination of information, which in turn helps produce greater knowledge and societal progress.

The contemporary doctrine of open government finds its strongest advocates in those non-governmental organisations keen to counter what they see as the inherent tendency of government to lapse, whenever possible, into secrecy. Prominent among these NGOs are bodies like Transparency International or the Open Society Institute. They advocate the implementation of norms of openness and transparency across the globe and argue that such standards are vital to the ongoing prosperity and development of democratic societies.

Advocates of open government often argue that civil society, rather than government legislation, offers the best route to more transparent administration. They point to the role of whistleblowers reporting from inside the government bureaucracy (individuals like Daniel Ellsberg or Paul van Buitenen). They argue that an independent and inquiring press, printed or electronic, is often a stronger guarantor of transparency than legislative checks and balances.

Along with an interest in providing more access to information goes a corresponding concern for protecting citizens' privacy so they are not exposed to "adverse consequences, retribution or negative repercussions" from information provided by governments.

A relatively new vision for the implementation of open government is coming from the municipal sector. In a similar fashion to grassroot movements, open government technology expert Tobias SK Cichon postulates that the swarming pressure of small local governments using technology to implement open government solutions will lead to similar adoptions by larger municipalities and eventually state, provincial and federal level changes.

Public and private sector platforms provide an avenue for citizens to engage while offering access to transparent information that citizens have come to expect. Numerous organizations have worked to consolidate resources for citizens to access government (local, state and federal) budget spending, stimulus spending, lobbyist spending, legislative tracking, and more.

The California Report Card (CRC) is one such platform that facilitates public involvement in government. In January of 2014, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society at UC Berkeley jointly launched the CRC. The CRC is a mobile-optimized platform that allows participants to "grade" the California government with respect to six timely issues. California residents are encouraged to provide feedback to the state government via the CRC website. Gavin Newsom's support of the CRC exemplifies the move towards open government and increased public involvement in government activity.


E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of Ashtar Command - Spiritual Community to add comments!

Join Ashtar Command - Spiritual Community