Demand Better: Making Government More Open And Accountable

John Kachuba and Elissa Yancey | Soapbox | August 27, 2013

The backstory
When President Obama extolled the virtues of open data in government in a 2010 speech before the United Nations, he created opportunities for hackers, entrepreneurs and governments at all levels to embrace innovation through radical shifts in information exchange. The trickle-down effect has already sparked change and a wide range of startups around the United States. “In all parts of the world, we see the promise of innovation to make government more open and accountable,” he said in the speech. “And now, we must build on that progress.”

The open government movement has supporters all across the country—people who want to make government more transparent, participatory and collaborative. Some cities have made data more readily available to the public, which has led to economic development; everyday citizens have participated more in their cities’ decision-making processes; and cities have been more equipped to provide better and more efficient services to their citizens through the cooperation of city departments, government agencies, the public, and non-profit and private organizations.
In an age in which anyone can find out so much about so many things, the problem becomes navigating massive mazes of information to sift the virtual wheat from the chaff. Open government initiatives—more precisely, the open data initiatives—are designed to make access to that information easier.