Sonntag, 1. Februar 2009

Obama: Turning Government Into Governance?

Here's an excerpt from Obama’s amazing Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, released on the 21st of January, 2009. With it, he announces standards of transparent, participatory, and collaborative government, in effect turning government into governance. He also announes an Open Government Directive that instructs executive departments and agencies to take specific actions implementing the principles set forth in his memorandum within three months. If the implementation doesn't fall short of these standards, I think it's a breathtaking game changer in the way government works.

"Government should be transparent. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset. (...)"

"Government should be participatory. Public engagement enhances the Government's effectiveness and improves the quality of its decisions. Knowledge is widely dispersed in society, and public officials benefit from having access to that dispersed knowledge. Executive departments and agencies should offer Americans increased opportunities to participate in policymaking and to provide their Government with the benefits of their collective expertise and information. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public input on how we can increase and improve opportunities for public participation in Government."

"Government should be collaborative. Collaboration actively engages Americans in the work of their Government. Executive departments and agencies should use innovative tools, methods, and systems to cooperate among themselves, across all levels of Government, and with nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals in the private sector. Executive departments and agencies should solicit public feedback to assess and improve their level of collaboration and to identify new opportunities for cooperation."

What I think is remarkable is that he makes a distinction between participation and collaboration. I think he's right about that - participation in assembling knowledge, and establishing common sense recommendations in deliberative procedures is something else than engaging people for change in collaboration! I'll talk about that distinction in future blogs.

What do you think: will Obama succeed in turning government into governance?

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