E-Gov versus Open Gov: The Evolution of E-democracy By Jenn Gustetic Associate Phase One Consulting Group Abstract “How is the Obama Administration’s Open Government (Open Gov) initiative different from the Bush Administration’s E-government (E-gov) initiative?” There are many people who use the two terms interchangeably but this paper argues that although they are distinct initiatives in the United States, they are also part of the same E-democracy maturity continuum. Thus while they should not be handled totally separately, they should not be combined either. This paper provides a short history and terminology discussion and then compares and contrasts the two initiatives. The major differences are: • • • • •
The E-gov efforts are directly enabled by law, but the Open Gov initiative is not. E-gov and Open Gov both produce significant advances in Federal transparency, but Open Gov should also produce more participation and collaboration mechanisms. E-gov and Open Gov both are “unfunded mandates” and must be implemented with existing resources. E-gov and Open Gov both rely heavily on web-enabled technology adoption, but many Open Government-related technologies (i.e. social media tools) are rapidly evolving. E-gov has largely become a compliance exercise for the Chief Information Officer (CIO), but Open Gov expands the responsibility for openness outside the CIO organization.
This paper concludes with recommendations to the Obama Administration to ensure the Open Gov initiative avoids the compliance fate of E-gov, while creating a framework to make significant headway in Government transparency, participation, and collaboration efforts.
Brief History of E-gov, Open Gov, and E-democracy This section will provide a high level overview of the E-gov and Open Gov initiatives and a definition of Edemocracy. Figure 1 illustrates the relationship between these three terms.
E-gov The E-gov Act of 2002 (Congress, 2002) was issued to codify the desire of the Bush administration to achieve the following goals as outlined in the President's Management Agenda of 2002: â€˘
â€œProvide high quality customer service regardless of whether the
• • •
citizen contacts the Agency by phone, in person, or on the Web; Reduce the expense and difficulty of doing business with the Government; Cut Government operating costs; Provide citizens with readier access to Government services; Increase access for persons with disabilities to Agency web sites and E-government applications; and Make Government more transparent and accountable.” (Executive Office of the President Office of Management and Budget, 2002):
The E-government initiatives in the United States are divided into four portfolios and the lines of business (see Table 1): Government to Citizen, Government to Business,
Government to Government, Internal Effectiveness and Efficiency, and Lines of Business. Departments are required to initiate activities in each area and report to the Office of Management of Budget (OMB) on their progress. The E-gov Act and subsequent OMB guidance put these responsibilities squarely on the shoulders of CIOs. E-gov reporting to OMB is linked to Capital Planning and Investment Control (CPIC), Privacy Impact Assessment (PIAs), and Enterprise Architecture (EA) reporting, though Circular A-11 is currently being revised and some of those linkages may change. Open Gov The Obama Administration’s Open Government Initiative strives to
Figure 1: E-Gov Versus Open Gov www.phaseonecg.com
create an unprecedented level of openness in Government. The Open Government memorandum, released in February 2009, mandates that Federal Agencies will “be transparent in their work, will be participatory in seeking the ideas and expertise of citizens, and will be collaborative in how they use new technology and processes for developing Government policies. It is also clear that Agencies will need to change the processes, mechanisms, and the underlying technology that they currently use to communicate with the public, and will need to open up decisionmaking processes that had previously been internal to public participation and collaboration” (Executive Office of the President Office of Management and Budget, 2009). The Open Government Directive provides guidance to Agencies to achieve those goals. Most notable are the requirements for Agencies to more aggressively release data to the public through data.gov, create a website to solicit citizen feedback on Agency Open Government planning, and submit an Open Government Plan to OMB within 120 days detailing the Agency’s plan to become more transparent, participatory and collaborative, among other requirements. However, other than some initial reporting requirements that are outlined in the directive, it is unclear the degree of OMB reporting that will be required in the future. For example, the Open Government Dashboard that will be spearheaded by the Federal CTO and CIO may require regular reporting for agencies, similar to the www.phaseonecg.com
IT Dashboard, but those requirements are currently unclear. (Orszag, 2009, p. 5) E-democracy E-democracy is an umbrella term that generally encompasses the goals of both E-government and Open Government. “E-democracy involves ‘electronic engagement’ (eengagement), engaging public in the policy process via electronic networks, ‘electronic consultation’ (e-consultation) which refers to interaction between public servants and the citizenry and interest groups; and ‘electronic controllership’ (e-controllership), consisting of the capability to manage the cost, performance, and services of an organization electronically (Riley, 2003). This paper considers the E-gov and Open Gov initiatives as steps towards E-democracy.
E-gov versus Open Gov The E-government efforts of the last decade and the new Open Government initiative share many similar goals and characteristics, the largest being that they both strive to make the Federal Government more transparent. However, they are not synonymous. They are different efforts that are overlapping phases in an incremental growth towards Edemocracy. Open Gov can be seen as an evolution of E-gov. Open Gov would not be possible without the outcomes created by E-gov and the advances made in technology (including social media (a.k.a. Web 2.0 or Gov 2.0) and cloud computing), policy (including OMB attempts to amend the current 4
legal/policy environment), and culture (an employee workforce more accustomed to transparency) over the last decade. In order to support this assertion, some key similarities and differences between the two initiatives are highlighted below and in Figure 1. E-gov was a first and crucial step towards E-democracy. However, the Open Gov initiative is not the end-state solution. It is the most recent maturation of the Federal Governmentâ€™s growth towards Edemocracy, but it is not the final step. There will likely be an initiative that follows Open Government as a new future Administration enters the White House and as tools grow and the culture of the Federal Government evolves. The following five sections compare and contrast the E-gov initiatives and the Open Government initiative so that practitioners may learn from the Egov efforts and avoid some of the unintended consequences caused by OMB reporting requirements and funding issues. The E-gov efforts are directly enabled by law, but the Open Government initiative is not. The E-gov act of 2002 codified the following purposes in Section 2(b) in order to achieve several goals as outlined in the President's Management Agenda of 2002: (1) To provide effective leadership of Federal Government efforts to develop and promote electronic Government services and processes by establishing an Administrator of a new Office of Electronic www.phaseonecg.com
(6) (7) (8) (9) (10)
Government within OMB To promote use of the Internet and other information technologies to provide increased opportunities for citizen participation in Government To promote interagency collaboration in providing electronic Government services, where this collaboration would improve the service to citizens by integrating related functions, and in the use of internal electronic Government processes, where this collaboration would improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the processes To improve the ability of the Government to achieve agency missions and program performance goals To promote the use of the Internet and emerging technologies within and across Government agencies to provide citizen-centric Government information and services To reduce costs and burdens for businesses and other Government entities. To promote better informed decision making by policy makers. To promote access to high quality Government information and services across multiple channels To make the Federal Government more transparent and accountable. To transform agency operations by utilizing, where appropriate, best practices from public and private sector organizations To provide enhanced access to Government information and services in a manner consistent with laws regarding 5
protection of personal privacy, national security, records retention, access for persons with disabilities, and other relevant laws (Congress, 2002) There is currently no legislation that codifies the Open Government goals of the Obama Administration, unless one interprets the E-gov Act to capture them as well. Without codifying the participation and collaboration goals of the Open Government initiative, significant progress towards these goals may be difficult. In addition, there are several laws (including the Paperwork Reduction Act and Federal Advisory Committee Act, among others) that make participation and collaboration with citizens very difficult in practice. Thus those legal and policy hurdles must be addressed in order to enable significant progress to be made in these areas. The Open Government Directive has tasked the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), in consultation with the Federal Chief Information Officer and the Federal Chief Technology Officer to review existing policy and propose revisions in order to encourage citizen engagement (Orszag, 2009, p. 6). This is a critical step to enable the participation and collaboration goals of Open Gov to be met. E-gov and Open Gov both produce significant advances in Federal transparency, but Open Gov should also produce more participation and collaboration mechanisms. The E-gov Act directs Agencies to be more transparent and accountable and www.phaseonecg.com
make services and information more accessible to citizens. As described in #1 above, the Act also directs Agencies “to promote use of the Internet and other information technologies to provide increased opportunities for citizen participation in Government.” (Congress, 2002) Thus, the E-gov Act also stated participation was a goal. However, the majority of the E-gov examples (as listed in Table 1) are tied to transparency and internal effectiveness. The E-rulemaking initiative was one of the only participation focused initiatives of the Egovernment effort (Executive Office of the President, 2009 , p. Attachment N). These outcomes are largely a result of the reporting requirements that OMB tied to E-gov. The portfolios and lines of business that were developed by OMB drove a lot of work in those areas, but as a result there was less progress in participation and collaboration with citizens. The words used to describe three of the main OMB E-gov portfolios embody this one-way information flow outward: “Government to Government, Government to citizen and Government to business”. There is no “citizen to Government” portfolio included in OMB reporting requirements. It is important to note that the E-gov Act highlighted participation and collaboration as purposes, but as a result of OMB reporting requirements, Agency efforts focused more greatly on transparency. The reporting requirements drove the areas for change. The Open Government Memorandum and Directive signify a new opportunity to enable participation and collaboration efforts with the citizen. In order to 6
meet those goals however, subsequent OMB guidance and reporting requirements should consist of more “citizen to Government” portfolios to channel focus and drive change. E-gov and Open Gov both are “unfunded mandates” and must be implemented with existing resources. Funding has been a huge issue for E-gov from the beginning. "Although the E-government Act authorized a cumulative minimum of $345 million from FY2003FY2007, concerns regarding oversight [had] prompted Congress to appropriate no more than $5 million in any given fiscal year since the passage of the act." (Seifert, 2008, p. Summary) Furthermore, the act has not been reauthorized, though the Senate tried in 2007 (S.2321 - EGovernment Reauthorization Act of 2007, 2007). Thus, there is currently no money authorized or appropriated for E-gov initiatives. It seems the only funding comes through Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) for shared services between Departments and Agencies. Open Gov efforts are also currently unfunded with no current authorization bill for a Federal Program Management Office (PMO). Resources have already been identified as an impediment for many Agencies to adopt Open Government principles (including web 2.0 technologies) that often require resourcing entire program offices for operations and www.phaseonecg.com
maintenance. Since Open Gov efforts will at least initially require Agencies to make significant changes with existing resources, how highly Open Gov is prioritized by leadership at Agencies is crucial. If Open Gov does not initially and continually enjoy priority status, resources will be difficult to find to implement and operate Open Gov efforts. Furthermore, identifying people and dollars to implement enterprise Open Gov programs and platforms will rely heavily on the cost savings that CIO shops can identify within their current operations. Thus, the consolidation opportunities identified through EA become even more critical as well. E-gov and Open Gov both rely heavily on web-enabled technology adoption, but many Open Government-related technologies (i.e., social media tools) are rapidly evolving. The E-gov Initiative directs the Federal Government to deliver results through the expansion and adoption of electronic Government principles and best practices in managing information technology. The E-gov efforts focused on using the internet to create web portals to provide information and created valuable sites including USA.gov and grants.gov. However, to achieve the participation and collaboration goals of Open Government, Agency efforts will likely rely heavily on the use of social media tools in addition to the traditional web. Today’s social media tools, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc., will likely not look the same next year. By adopting those tools today that already 7
have a large adoption rate by citizens, the Federal Government has a huge opportunity to reach a large audience through the golden triangle of “social, real-time and mobile” mechanisms (Wilson, 2009). However, this will also require the Federal Government to adapt much more quickly to emerging technologies and be nimble in their communication strategies. Open Gov managers will need to consistently reassess their communication strategies and the available tools and be prepared to evolve as technologies mature. The creation of web portals was a much more bounded task than developing strategies and project plans to manage a plethora of social media tools. E-gov has largely become a CIO compliance exercise, but Open Gov expands the responsibility for openness outside the CIO organization. The E-gov Act and subsequent OMB guidance delegated the coordination and reporting requirements for the Egov initiatives to the Agency CIO. Seven years after the passage of the E-gov Act, many Agencies now see Egov as a compliance and reporting exercise where they exert the effort required to “pass the test” but little more. However, E-gov did produce many valuable portals and enabled best practice sharing among critical lines of business for the Federal Government. It was largely successful in providing better information and services to the public. But, the marginal benefit achieved now through E-gov initiatives, in comparison to the potential of Open Gov efforts, is declining. The Open Government Directive is not www.phaseonecg.com
specific about which office will be responsible for Open Gov efforts at each Agency, but it is clear the goals pursued by the Open Gov initiative will require participation from many Agency offices to achieve the level of openness and participation it requires. (Orszag, 2009, p. 7) If forthcoming federal-wide Open Gov requirements are too predetermined and inflexible, Agencies will likely meet the minimum requirements and little more, for the most part, resulting in little cultural transformation. On the other hand, if those requirements are too broad, achievements will likely be spread out in a variety of areas, reducing the impact the Open Government initiative could make in the key areas of participation and collaboration. For Open Gov to be successful, Agencies must not only be able to tailor their efforts to their specific strategic plans and performance goals, but they must also be given direction by OMB about where to focus their efforts. Without flexibility to make Open Gov meaningful to the mission provision of each Agency and direction to channel Open Gov efforts across the Federal Government, the Open Gov initiative is likely to face the same fate as E-gov: a CIO compliance exercise.
Opportunities for Open Gov to Avoid a Compliancy Fate OMB should strive to delay, for as long as possible, the point at which the momentum supporting Open Gov is converted to devoting staff time to a reporting compliance exercise. Some reporting is valuable and necessary to ensure broad milestones are met across the Federal Government. However, just how far Open Gov will take us towards E-democracy will be highly determined by how effectively culture changes as a result of this 8
effort—not how frequently or well Agencies report. There are several opportunities to direct the Open Gov momentum onto the right track right now—and there is a narrow window. OMB should focus on the following opportunities to help avoid a compliancy fate: •
Provide Agencies with tools and methodologies to implement the Open Government Directive in order to prevent an attitude of compliant reporting. The Department of Transportation has started developing such a best practice methodology (Gustetic, 2009). Support and facilitate best practice sharing and shared services to ease Open Government adoption since most Open Government efforts are not funded. Tie in Enterprise Architecture from the beginning of the effort in order to identify where cost savings through IT consolidation can be applied to new Open Gov efforts. Re-evaluate how E-gov and Open Gov efforts and reporting should and could be combined to eliminate redundant reporting requirements on the Agencies. Advocate for authorization and appropriation for a PMO for Edemocracy efforts that encompass both E-gov and Open Gov.
progress towards the desired future state of an open, transparent, collaborative, participatory and innovative Government. The Open Gov initiative can get us significantly down the maturity continuum towards true E-democracy, but it won’t get us the whole way. Thus let’s focus on what outcomes of Open Gov will take us as far down the continuum as possible, and as technology, policy and cultural shifts allow, prepare for a Government 3.0 initiative that will advance us even further.
Considerations as the Government Moves Towards E-democracy Finally, organizations devoted to citizen engagement and participatory democracy should channel their efforts to help Government determine what a proactive “Government 3.0” effort would look like in order to make even more www.phaseonecg.com
BIBLIOGRAPHY Congress, U. S. (2002). Public Law 107 - 347 - E-Government Act. Retrieved 12 7, 2009, from Government Printing Office: HTTP://WWW.GPO.GOV/FDSYS/PKG/PLAW107PUBL347/CONTENT-DETAIL.HTML Executive Office of the President Office of Management and Budget. (2002). Presidentâ€™s Management Agenda. Washington DC. Executive Office of the President Office of Management and Budget. (2009). Transparency and Open Government Memorandum. Retrieved 12 7, 2009, from White House: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/TransparencyandOpenGovernment/ Executive Office of the President. (2009 ). OMB Report to Congress on the Benefits of the President's E-Government Initiatives. Washington DC. Gustetic, J. (2009, 11 22). Open Government is Change Management on Steroids. Retrieved 12 7, 2009, from Transformation in the Federal Sector: http://blog.phaseonecg.com/2009/11/open-government-is-change-management-on.html Orszag, P. R. (2009). Open Government Directive (M 10 06). Washington DC: Executive Office of the President Office of Management and Budget. Riley, T. (2003). E-government vs. E-governance: Examining the Difference in a Changing Public Sector Climate. Canada: The Commonwealth Secretariat and Government Telecommunications and Information Services, Public Works and Government Services. S.2321 - E-Government Reauthorization Act of 2007. (2007). Retrieved 12 7, 2009, from Open Congress: http://www.opencongress.org/bill/110-s2321/show Seifert, J. W. (2008). Reauthorization of the E-Government Act: A Brief Overview. Washington DC: Congressional Research Service. Wilson, F. (2009). The Golden Triangle. Retrieved 12 7, 2009, from A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC: http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2009/10/the-golden-triangle.html