As the release of OMB’s Open Government Directive approaches, Departments and Agencies should embrace thinking about Open Government in a new way—not as an initiative that can be satisfied through the utilization of web 2.0 tools, but as an opportunity to jump-start and enhance public-private partnerships (PPPs) and innovation that will enhance their mission. PPPs are said to only be possible when partners bring concrete public value, operational capacity, and legitimacy and support to the table. The Open Government initiative contributes to all three of these areas by prioritizing the public value of information sharing, increasing the data available to the public and thus reducing information asymmetry, and providing the leadership support to increase PPPs’ visibility. The bottom line is that the Open Government initiative makes partnering easier in every area of government service provision and the momentum created by OMB’s initial transparency efforts through Data.gov should be leveraged in order to identify and encourage new areas for partnership.
The Government should not have a monopoly on innovation. But by withholding data, making processes unnecessarily cumbersome, and making public engagement in decision making extremely difficult (if not illegal—see the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) for guidelines on reaching public consensus to advise lawmakers), several public service areas have become near-monopolies. This Open Government initiative empowers and requires the Federal Government to break down those walls, to increase openness, and to encourage public private partnerships, so that we may create meaningful and productive innovation and progress through harnessing the best ideas, regardless of their creator.