I did make many of these points since the very beginning of the open government initiative, and I have been warning other jurisdictions not to enter a competition based on how many data sets, or how many Facebook pages or idea contests they would run vs. other jurisdictions.
What very few have done, and should have been hardwired in the directive, is to link openness to value and mission objectives. There is still time, although the clock is ticking as the Congress – which is no longer as favorable as it was at the beginning of the Obama administration – starts looking more closely into this matter.
Gartner analyst, Andrea Di Maio, comments on the recently released US Congressional Report on Open Government, which appears to challenge some of the rhetoric of open government supporters – Di Maio clearly thinks, to put it in commercial lanaguage, its all about return on investment.
I haven’t had time to read the report myself, so I’m taking Di Maio’s comments on face value – surprisingly, I agree with some of them in principle. It is very easy to get caught up with app building and open data, while not actually really doing anything innovative to extend, improve or reduce the cost of community services, they way they organise or how they are delivered.
However, the thing I would challenge is who exactly do we mean as the beneficiary of the return on investment in open government – the institutions or the citizens? And is this report really just the sign of government institutions fighting against change and the FUD created by Wikileaks?
The issue of what Clay Shirky calls “Coase’s Floor also comes to mind – the problem might be that governments are making it too expensive is some cases to move to open government, by trying to measure and make the effort visible so they can analyse it before taking action.