Key Area to Consider in Open Government Planning: Infrastructure

Is your infrastructure ‘Open Government’-friendly? Does your infrastructure support transparency, collaboration, and participation? Can it be called “Gov 2.0”? To answer these questions, first consider how you would answer the following:

· Does your infrastructure make it easy to post content and store data by non-technical users?
· Does your infrastructure make it easy to capture and maintain metadata by employees and citizens?
· Does your data serve as a platform for citizen developed applications?
· Does your infrastructure enable collaboration and easy feedback loops from the public, industry, and other stakeholders?
· Does your infrastructure enable ease of search and navigation across your agency from a single starting point (
· Does your infrastructure support publishing data in open and machine readable formats?
· Do you have good access management that enables access to content by authorized users to the greatest extent possible?

Open Government is very much a cultural change management effort. Clunky technology will be the sand in the gears of this transformation. Gov 2.0 friendly infrastructures need to make it easy for your employees to embrace the culture of transparency, collaboration, and participation. Below are some key areas to address these challenges.

Ease of maintenance of data and content is critical. There is definitely variation in architectures of content management systems that enable or restrict global entry and maintenance of data and metadata. Providing data and content online comes with new responsibilities. Your infrastructure must work for you so that your organization does not become overloaded by these responsibilities.

Practice good service management. Greater online engagement with citizens will ensure that IT shortcomings rise to the surface quickly. Your CIO needs to plan for this new Open Government paradigm and conduct proper demand management, service management, and service portfolio management. For example, if you have a hard time booking an airline ticket on Orbitz, you are likely to go to Travelocity. However, our citizens don’t have this luxury. Government must provide reliable online services to improve the government citizen relationship. Failed services will only undermine citizen trust and confidence.

The Open Government Directive calls for Agencies to include proposals to “use technology platforms to improve collaboration among people within and outside your agency” as well as “new feedback mechanisms, including innovative tools and practices that create easier methods for public engagement.” If you decide to upgrade your web presence or intranet, focus on understanding your organization, practice good service management, and plan to maintain your data for the long haul.