Government Data and the Invisible Hand

I recently came across an article titled "Government Data and the Invisible Hand" written by 4 people from Princeton and published in the Yale Journal of Law & Technology (most recent issue).

This paper has direct applicability to both and the larger architecture supporting the Administration's open government and transparency agenda. Although some of the article reads to be a bit naive, some key sections do make interesting and thought provoking points.

For instance, the policy discussion in Section III does have an interesting point that if the government builds its websites based on the same data feeds/sources that it provides to the public as open government data, then the government has a direct incentive to keep the open government data feeds/sources up to speed and quality requirements.

Basically, the overall premise of the article is that the government should be shifting resources by building fewer .gov websites and investing more in opening up government data sets. The basic philosophy might be sound but the government still has an inherently governmental responsibility to present key information to the public, not just the data sets. That being said, the new initiative will provide the mechanism and catalyst to sharing more open government data to the public.