open government [English]

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Syndetic Relationships

InterPARES Definition

n. ~ An approach designed to provide greater access to unrestricted information held by public bodies in order to promote transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement and participation, to accomplish a larger outcome of building and enhancing citizens' trust in their governments.

Other Definitions

  • Wikipedia (†387 s.v. open government): 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.[Lathrop & Ruma, 2010]


  • Coglianese, 2009. (†497 p.530): “Good, open government is not the same as a reality television show that broadcasts every move officials make and every conversation they have. On the contrary, good government actually requires certain limits on this kind of fishbowl transparency.” (†760)
  • Geiger and von Lucke 2013 (†296 p. 265): Transparency, participation and collaboration are the main issues of the integration of citizens in the paradigm of Open Government. One requirement for realizing these central points is the free access to certain data. (†275)
  • Geiger and von Lucke 2013 (†296 p. 266): Open Government acts as an umbrella term for many different ideas and concepts. The narrow definition of Open Government consists of transparency, participation and collaboration of the state towards third actors like the economy or the citizenship. Most often, Open Government is equated with E-Government and the usage of Information and Communication Technologies. This general equation of a theoretical paradigm (Open Government) and the tool-kit or rather its instrument (Information and Communication Technologies) is incorrect. Thus, the discussion about the basis of an effective realization and implementation of Open Government is seen in the discussion about Open Data. ¶ In addition to the narrow understanding of Open Government (transparency, participation and collaboration) there is also a wider definition of Open Government and its impact to govern: The so-called “family of open government” consists of more than Open Data, Transparency, Participation and Collaboration. Further dimensions within the discussion about Open Government are the debates about Open Access and Open Knowledge as well as Open Innovation and Open Societal Innovation. Furthermore, Open Process Chains and Open Value Added Economic Chains can be discussed practically besides Open Statecraft and the Open Policy-Cycle theoretically. Further contents are Open Source, Open Standards as well as Open Interfaces (Open APIs) and the Open Markets Approach. This compilation of different ideas which can be included within the Open Government paradigm is exemplary and not conclusive. ¶ Regarding this multiplicity of concepts and ideas, Open Government is rather more than a single concept with a narrow thematical focus. Open Government must be seen as a wide concept with a broad range of aspects and opinions. (†276)
  • Geiger and von Lucke 2013 (†296 p. 266): Like the seven characteristics which describe the essence of the Web 2.0 on an abstract level, there are also seven characters which constitute Open Government and the way to determine Open Government. Von Lucke defines Open Government by the following attributes: (I) Building of new communities, (II) Information and Open Data, (III) Common Editing and Design, (IV) Common Consulting and Discussion, (V) Common Decision Making and Ordering, (VI) Common Action and Programming and (VII) Common Commenting and Rating of political and administrative topics (von Lucke, 2012 p. 166} (sic) (†277)
  • Horizon 2020 2013 (†397 49): Open participation, open processes and open engagement are important pillars of open government, in which all legitimate actors are invited to engage in the activities of the public sector. This can include citizens’ involvement in political decisions and public policy making, as well as a broad dimension, involving citizens in all aspects of the interaction with the public sector. (†441)
  • Hurley, Léveillé, and McDonald 2016 (†901 p. 11): Open government is a concept intended to increase trust in government through access to information and greater involvement in government processes. It brings together the principles of transparency and accountability, which are supported through access to information, with citizen engagement, which is intended to strengthen communication between governments and citizens and open decision-making processes to active citizen participation. Practices enabling open information, open data and citizen engagement are the most common manifestations of open government. (†2715)
  • ITrust Research Project 9 Proposal, 2013 (†389 1-2): Similar processes [as Open Data and Big Data] can also be found in support of Open Government initiatives where the goal is to achieve greater transparency and demonstrated accountability through making known the availability of government records documenting decisions and actions (as distinct from the more passive FOI world where access is dependent on citizen requests). The stages involved in creating and making available online versions of government records and data involves the creation of various versions of the records and data, some of which involves digitization. (†424)
  • Janssen, Charalabidis, and Zuiderwijk, 2012 (†351 ): Myth 5: Open Data Will Result in Open Government. Open government promotes transparency and engagement to allow effective oversight. This myth suggests that full, immediate, and widespread disclosure of public data results in an accountable and transparent government (see for example European Commission, 2010). However, at least two main assumptions challenge this myth. The first is that one is able to find the right data and is able to interpret and process the data in a uniform way, whereas the reality is that finding the right data might be difficult, there might be a huge information overload, and large differences in the way open-data analysts and how an individual might analyze the same data may draw different conclusions. Furthermore, open-data sources might not be consistent and may depict to different directions. Second, system theory provides the need for introducing feedback mechanisms to close the loop between the government and those governed. Although there are anecdotal examples, the wider impact is unclear. It is easier to not publish data than to introduce mechanisms to seek feedback and discourse in a climate of decreasing budgets. Creating an open government demands considerable transformations of the public sector. The paradox is that more information does not necessarily result in better, or more democratic, or more rational decisions. More information can result in less understanding, more confusion, and less trust (Strathern, 2000). Experience and tacit knowledge might be lacking among those who should be able to make sense of the open data. Our interviews indicate that transparency might result in better accountability, transparency, and trust, but sometimes has the opposite effect. For example, publicizing data can show that the quality of the data on which important decisions are made is poor. By providing the minutes of city council meetings, people might be shocked about the discussion and lose trust in the decision-making process and the resulting decisions. (†336)
  • Obama 2009 (†510 ): My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government. ¶ Government should be transparent . . . ¶ Government should be participatory . . . ¶ Government should be collaborative . . . (†799)
  • Orszag 2009 (†511 ): The three principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration form the cornerstone of an open government. Transparency promotes accountability by providing the public with information about what the Government is doing. Participation allows members of the public to contribute ideas and expertise so that their government can make policies with the benefit of information that is widely dispersed in society. Collaboration improves the effectiveness of Government by encouraging partnerships and cooperation within the Federal Government, across levels of government, and between the Government and private institutions. (†800)
  • Orszag 2009 (†511 ): This memorandum requires executive departments and agencies to take the following steps toward the goal of creating a more open government: ¶ 1. Publish Government Information Online: To increase accountability, promote informed participation by the public, and create economic opportunity, each agency shall take prompt steps to expand access to information by making it available online in open formats. With respect to information, the presumption shall be in favor of openness (to the extent permitted by law and subject to valid privacy, confidentiality, security, or other restrictions). . . . ¶ 2. Improve the Quality of Government Information: To improve the quality of government information available to the public, senior leaders should make certain that the information conforms to OMB guidance on information quality3 and that adequate systems and processes are in place within the agencies to promote such conformity. . . . ¶ 3. Create and Institutionalize a Culture of Open Government: To create an unprecedented and sustained level of openness and accountability in every agency, senior leaders should strive to incorporate the values of transparency, participation, and collaboration into the ongoing work of their agency. Achieving a more open government will require the various professional disciplines within the Government – such as policy, legal, procurement, finance, and technology operations – to work together to define and to develop open government solutions. Integration of various disciplines facilitates organization-wide and lasting change in the way that Government works. . . . ¶ 4. Create an Enabling Policy Framework for Open Government: Emerging technologies open new forms of communication between a government and the people. It is important that policies evolve to realize the potential of technology for open government. (†801)
  • Yu and Robinson, 2012 (†496 p.181): “Open government and open data can each exist without the other: A government can be an open government, in the sense of being transparent, even if it does not embrace new technology (the key question is whether stakeholders know what they need to know to keep the system honest). And a government can provide open data on politically neutral topics even as it remains deeply opaque and unaccountable.” (†758)