I spoke to the OpenGov and eParticipation Summit in Belfast, Northern Ireland in late September. The event was produced by the University of Ulster with the help of a number of organizations and sponsors. I’d met faculty from the University when they came out to visit the Open Source Lab and learn more about the OSL’s success with supporting global open source communities. was pleased to be invited to share what I’ve learned working with a number of Open Government / Open Data initiatives and the open source community in the US.
Speakers ranged from county government to senior UK government, included industry, entrepreneurs and academics. Topics extended to open data and information exchange in health IT. A presentation from an Italian company which produces town hall style meetings using electronic voting described their product and process. The system was utilized during the Day 2 eParticpation Summit. The software interestingly enough was actually written by the Tuscany government and is available as open source.
It was interesting to see the conference and summit take the policy issues related to open data head on. In contrast to the US where private industry and civic advocates have driven the train while (most notably) the Federal government is de-funding transparency sites, Ireland and the UK governments themselves seem more engaged in creating a road map for opening their data and making that transition sustainable. At the same time, the open source community seems less engaged there in supporting more civic and volunteer approaches to opening up government.
If you’re involved in Open Government, I encourage you to participate in this first informal open government communities survey. The objective of the short survey is to create a view of the broad community of constituents that comprise the open government movement, with a special interest in understanding the interplay and influence of open source software and the open source community in forwarding their objectives.
The first set of responses collected by September 18th will travel to Northern Ireland for my presentation at the OpenGov Conference in Belfast on September 22nd, 2011. Results of the survey will be shared this fall on the Government Open Source Conference web site (goscon.org). Any questions? email me.
Thanks in advance or your participation!
Following the first year of implementation of the Open Government Directive, a number of valuable reports have addressed the openness and transparency progress made by federal agencies. Today’s Open Source for America (OSFA) report card digs a little deeper into its own domain – Open Source, Open Technology in use in their report on Federal Agencies. Although the US White House Open Government Directive isn’t explicitly about underlying technology to “get to open”, it’s not gone without notice that open source software drives much of the infrastructure that makes the process work. I like to think of it as a kind of Swiss Army knife for open data and transparency.
But read the report, it’s all in there. Read the press release.
OSFA has also made the entire table available for download. Download the report.
According to the release…
The Federal Open Technology Report Card evaluated key indicators of open government and open technologies developed through online crowd sourcing and refined metrics outlined by the OSFA leadership committee. These included questions regarding public budgets, use of social media, and open source technology practices. 2010 marked the first year federal government agencies were operating under the Directive and Open Government Plans, and the results are promising. Many of the agencies scored well, while others have room for improvement. The Report Card assigned a percentage grade to the 15 Cabinet-level departments and agencies use of open source technologies, open formats, and technology tools for citizen engagement.
A few of the agencies graded in the report include:
- Department of Defense (82 percent)
- Department of Energy (72 percent)
- Department of Health and Human Services (55 percent)
- Department of Homeland Security (55 percent)
- Department of Transportation (53 percent)
Open Source for America is one of the projects I enjoy working with. It’s an all volunteer organization, so any time we can beg borrow and borrow our community members’ time to produce a report, it’s something to celebrate.