Local Open Government Directive: Building Transparency, Participation, and Collaboration

January 24, 2011

Just one year ago, Kevin Curry started the CityCamp movement to bring together local government officials, government employees, private sector technology experts, journalists, and citizens to share perspectives and insights about the cities in which they live and to develop practices for making their city governments more transparent, participatory, collaborative, and accountable.

In December 2010, I was proud to work with Kevin, Brian Gryth, Sean Hudson, Michele Hovet, Alissa Black, and Nicole Aro to organize CityCamp Colorado.  During the camp, Kevin, Brian, Alissa, and I began developing a model Local Open Government Directive that cities and counties can use to promote transparency, participation, and collaboration in their governments.  We modified, tailored, and improved the U.S. Open Government Directive for local government and, after the camp, we expanded the drafting process to about 30 more experts and supporters of the open government movement.

The Local Open Government Directive provides specific guidance for a city, county, or state government to develop information and data sharing practices, enhance and expand citizen participation opportunities, and collaborate with government employees, other government agencies, private sector experts, and the public.

The opportunities for transparency, participation, and collaboration described in the directive are becoming increasingly possible and efficient thanks to Internet technology and people’s desire to reclaim our government.  We will no longer accept the information government holds about us, our schools, our businesses, etc. being held behind government walls.  We will no longer accept 3-minute opportunities to speak at a city council meeting on a weekday afternoon as an opportunity to participate.  We will no longer accept government officials forcing their decisions about our lives without being involved in the process.

The model Local Open Government Directive is intended to be an executive initiated order or directive to the local government under the executive’s legal authority.  An executive leader, such as a mayor, should use this model to adopt a directive for the city to help institutionalize open government principles within the city government.

In partnership with OpenPlans, we are hosting the directive at opengovernmentinitative.org. There, you can view and download the directive and share it with others.

In addition, our friends at the Sunlight Foundation have created a site where you can sign up to show your support for this effort.

In the upcoming weeks and months, we will be reaching out to government officials to build support for the directive and to implement the directive in local governments.

We encourage you to show your support for the directive and to reach out to your elected officials to ask what they’re doing to promote open government and to include the public, to include you, in your government’s processes.  Together, we can make our government more transparent, participatory, collaborative, and accountable.  Remember, we’re building our government; that means we all have the responsibility to be informed and to participate.  Government officials have to do their part, and we have to do ours for open government efforts to be successful and for government services to work.

If you’re interested in participating in the open government movement, please join our Open Government Initiative group.

Finally, I’d like to thank all of the people I’ve been fortunate to work with through CityCamp Colorado and the Open Government Directive.  Kevin, Brian, Sean, Michele, Alissa, Nicole, Phil Ashlock, and many others are some of the most motivated, hard-working, brilliant people I’ve had the pleasure to work with.

Cheers to the future of our government!

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