Key Area to Consider in Open Government Planning:Importance of Tools in Open Government Planning

Tools are a key driver to executing collaboration, participation and transparency initiatives. Using Web 2.0 tools such as social networking, forums, innovative information processing techniques and faster delivery mechanisms will allow for a more dynamic interface with the citizen and ultimately influence the direction of legislation and policies. These tools not only allow for an inexpensive way to collaborate but serve as model for fast adoption and reusability among government agencies. Due to the plethora of social media tools and technologies available, requirements for tools should be determined first, before any tools or vendors are selected. Just because a tool is free does not mean that fair competition should not be ensured when the government selects a technology solution. Thus, focus on the requirements first, and the specific social media tool second. Tools must also consider important organizational culture and internal policies since technology is only part of the open government equation.

Here is a list of possible considerations for tools when planning for Open Government:

  • Determining the audience and requirements for use of tools and technologies
  • Understanding when technology and social media tools can enable agencies to achieve their Open Government strategic objectives more effectively
  • Coordinating business and IT interfaces among the different stakeholders to include executive leadership support
  • Addressing gaps with compliance, policies and security governing the use of various web 2.0 technologies
  • Leveraging and expanding existing open government initiatives within federal agencies
  • Looking beyond collaboration by integrating directly into agency processes instead of separated efforts

Linkages with the Open Government Directive: There are requirements associated with tools including:

  • Open Gov plans must "include proposals for new feedback mechanisms, including innovative tools and practices that create new and easier methods for public engagement." This may be achieved by mapping current or potential tools against open government requirements. What is the purpose and effectiveness of existing or new technologies?
  • Open Gov plans must "include proposals to use technology platforms to improve collaboration among people within and outside your agency." Once you understand the needs of your organization to improve internal and external collaboration, survey available platforms to assess if they can be leveraged. If not, an enterprise system may need to be developed. Determine if IT infrastructure will support and provide scalability towards the effort, consistent with the "infrastructure" pie piece. Identify system security needs and develop mitigation plans to address associated risks, consistent with the "security" pie piece.