Gov20, government, ideas, New York, open data, politics, reinventing government

The Virtuous Circle of Open Government & Streamlining Government

Yesterday the national Technology CEO Council just released a plan for how to save $1 trillion via technology-enabled government streamlining at the Federal level.  The plan is credible, and it’s great that it’s making the rounds at the White House this week.  They didn’t say it in the report, but there is a virtuous circle between open government work happening at the Federal and State levels, and this tech-enabled government streamlining called for in this plan.  I believe that technology-enabled streamlining of government needs to be conducted iteratively in the context of and in parallel with comprehensive technology-enabled open government reforms.  Here’s why:

  1. Streamlined digital information management will make it easier to publish government open data, for purposes of government transparency and also to make these considerable digital assets that we have all paid for with our tax dollars available to the private sector and the rest of the public sector.
  2. The Council’s streamlining plan relies on identifying inefficiencies (e.g.: business processes that can readily be streamlined) and fraud in government spending; these needles in haystacks can best be found by publishing the underlying data publicly, so that as many actors as possible– including you and I as citizens– can spend our collecting time identifying these inefficient and fraudulent needles in a haystack, rather than relying on government itself to find them.  This requires comprehensive timely publishing of open data, and in some cases the crowdsourcing of the work required to clean and structure the data, so that this analysis can be carried out.
  3. This technology streamlining effort will doubtless involve giving new government technology contracts to commercial vendors, some of whom sit on the Council itself; in order to ensure that streamlining proposals don’t themselves become encumbered by the bias of business opportunity, timely intuitive availability of government technology contracting data is also necessary to keep the vendors honest in this process.

Finally, a natural next question is, what is the municipal and State level version of this plan, and how much could be saved in aggregate at the local and State levels, if analogous streamlining were undertaking across many cities, counties and States in parallel with this streamlining effort at the State level… Could the aggregate savings therein amount to $1.5 Trillion?  $5 Trillion?

Whether at the local, State, or Federal level, I expect that we’ll see the greatest potential upside in terms of realized savings if technology-enabled government streamlining plan are carried out in close coordination with corollary comprehensive open government plans.

 

 

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government, open data, space

Open Government Data Working Group

An important meeting took place in Sebastapol last weekend (I didn’t know about it in advance, but I did wonder at the time why several folks in my Dopplr list were in Sebastapol concurrently!) to advance the cause of openness and accessibility of government data.

Good timing– the CoLab team just spent the past two days at NASA Headquarters running into and occasionally constructively running through cultural brick walls, many of which derive from the lack of perception inside NASA Headquarters of demand from the public for making government data open AND accessible. In the case of NASA, which has a massive trove of data to share, the latter is often a bigger challenge than the former.

The clear articulated set of principals for data openness and accessibility that came out of the Sebastapol meeting- and a clear public demand by highly credible citizen “customers”- will go a long way towards validating the problem statement that we attempted to convey to management at NASA HQ. Content and data managers from across Federal Agencies are beginning to network and share problems and solutions and new precedents amongst themselves, so this is a potent time to propose, implement, and then propagate change regarding government data inside Federal Agencies.

Thank you for the help, Sebastapolians! And one friendly suggestion/critique– get some people to the next meeting who are actually working on causing change on these issues from inside government– your invite list for this kickoff meeting didn’t appear to include anyone who is actually managing data or setting policy for same inside a government entity! :)

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