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The Start of Our Open Government Series

March 17, 2016
Government Building

It has been a long time since the last todaysnote post. This week, we will begin to produce some new content, and there are some blog updates, as well, that you may notice. I hope you will use the Subscribe! link on the top menu to sign up for our mailing list. We will send you updates on new notes as they are posted.

We are going to resume posts with a series on Open Government and eGovernment initiatives. The first post on this topic is about “The Open Data Economy, Unlocking Economic Value by Opening Government and Public Data,” a 2013 report published by CapGemini. At a healthy 17 pages, this report is far longer than most articles todaysnote has reviewed. However, it is a very insightful document, and well worth a read.

Open government initiatives seek to increase transparency of government by making public data more available and by increasing interaction between the public and government entities. This drives improved accountability and efficiency.

How prevalent is the trend toward open government? The report tells us (pg 6), and the statistics are not impressive.

“-Only 22% of countries shared data that can be classified as comprehensive – data with high value information, granular in nature and including extensive datasets.
– 96% of the countries analyzed share data which is not regularly updated.
– Over 60% of the countries we analyzed lacked enhanced search capabilities.

It is clear from these examples that data collection and dissemination has not been regularized, nor are data accessible enough to drive the kinds of economic benefits the report authors are trying to help us see.

But there is some good news. The Open Data Economy report cites numerous examples of the benefits of Open Government initiatives, and interestingly, these benefits accrue within both the public and private sectors. Where data are collected and made available, both citizens and businesses flourish. And if you think that doing this represents a great expense for governments, it would seem that at the very least there are savings that offset those expenses. Among the most interesting examples:

” Open Data and access to real-time information saved over $1 million for the city of San Francisco in the US. The city’s Chief Innovation Officer announced in June 2012 that access to real-time transit data resulted in 21.7% fewer SF311 calls.”

“in California USA, the state transparency portal (that cost around $21,000 to implement) saved the state over $20 million when visitors identified unnecessary expenditure.”

“In 2011-12, the NHS in England spent more than £400m on statins…out of a total drug budget of £12.7 billion. Some of these drugs are more expensive than others: patented ones can cost 20 times more than generic versions… It was found that on an average £27m a month of potentially unnecessary expenditure on the two proprietary statins took place in 2011 “

How many of these initiatives were you aware of before you read this post? I would like to know what Open Government initiatives may be going on in your state or country. Please leave a comment below if you know of any! Maybe we can all learn something.

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