'Open Data' can help protect our Cities, Citizens, and Workers

I was recently reading a blog by Thomas Papagiannis on "Open Data and Financial Crisis", particularly with regards to cities.  It was a timely piece given the recent issue of Time Magazine on the bankruptcy of Detroit and a growing number of other cities across the U.S.

What I have read about cities that have declared bankruptcy, is that financial organizations and corporations somehow seem to get their money back in the bankruptcy proceedings. However, city workers who have put in 30-40 years of work and paid contributions to pension funds get the shaft. 

The argument is usually that it's too bad, the politicians either raided the pension funds to pay off the financial creditors, or they simply never put enough money into the pension fund.  Bottom line, no politician is ever held accountable and the workers – well, they've been robbed blind. 

It's time to change that everywhere across the country. By taking an 'Open Data' approach cities, workers, citizens, investors and financial institutions can build and ensure:

  • more transparency and accountability, clearly identifying when pension funds are being raided or are not fully funded by the government and its elected officials;
  • more trust in our government and its elected officials, especially when they enter into financial contracts and commitments;
  • citizens receive an early warning of potential problems regarding the financial condition of the government, especially fraudulent behavior;
  • steps are taken to constantly evaluate and stimulate innovative solutions to improve the efficient and quality of government services;
  • politicians are held accountable and build the will to make distasteful but required changes, by giving them reliable and 'transparent data' to back up their arguments in public;
  • all key data is 'open' to the public and government watchdog organizations

Citizens! Workers! Local governments! Wake up.  It's in your best interest to draw up and enforce new 'Open Data' policies and laws

* The White House has taken the initiative by releasing an Executive Order on Open Data Policy to be followed by the Federal government. State and local governments need to follow suit.