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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.