Era of Open: An Opportunity and Imperative

Posted by Maria Otero
April 5, 2012
Maria Otero, Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights

Good governance means more than regular elections. It also means active citizens; a free press; an independent judiciary and legislature; and transparent and responsive institutions that are accountable to all citizens and protect their rights equally and fairly. The Open Government Partnership (OGP) hews closely to these principles. It is, at its core, about the relationship between a government and its citizens -- a relationship that is defined by mutual responsibility and facilitated by dialogue.

Undeniably, technology and access are changing the relationship between a government and its people. Communication networks are enabling citizens to exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms, participate in the democratic process, and organize social movements that alter the face of entire regions. As citizens call for change, governments are responding by opening their doors and their data. In this context, governments at the national and local levels have the opportunity to harness citizen input, more easily identify and address inefficiencies and obstacles in service delivery, and create greater impact through public policy and services.

But this trend towards openness goes further than opportunity -- to imperative. At OGP's first outreach meeting in July 2011, Secretary Clinton elaborated on the dangers of closed societies. She stressed that the failure of government "to earn and hold the trust of its people...in a world of instantaneous communication, means that the very fabric of society begins to fray and the foundation of governmental legitimacy begins to crumble." The reality before us is that open government is not just good government; it is smart and sustainable government. That's why President Obama and Secretary Clinton have made open government a top priority for the United States, both domestically and internationally.

OGP is helping governments respond to the opportunity and the imperative before us. And, significantly, it is enabling us to go beyond the walls of government -- to partners in civil society and the private sector -- to find and implement the world's best ideas when it comes to open, efficient, and effective government.

Through OGP, governments and citizens of the world are reviving the linkages that bind them to one another. In September, we witnessed the beginning of a historic chapter in the story of good governance when OGP's eight founding governments launched their action plans. In April, what was eight will graduate to over 50. And what was once the beginning of a chapter will graduate to what is really the beginning of a new era of good governance -- the era of open.

Editor's Note: This entry also appears on the Open Government Partnership website.

Comments

Comments

John
|
Canada
April 5, 2012

John in Canada writes:

Is any society ready, prepared or able to accommodate an "Open Society"?

"Good governance means more than regular elections. It also means active citizens; a free press; an independent judiciary and legislature; and transparent and responsive institutions that are accountable to all citizens and protect their rights equally and fairly."

I couldn't agree more but the greatest threat to the aforementioned is our monetary structures. Our monetary systems make it impossible for this goal to be achieved.

Everything is impacted negatively because of money.

Look at the dissension in governments around the world - ideology nonsense aside - it comes down to money. Would Obamacare be challenged if the issue of money was not there? (I would like to see someone justify letting sick people die of curable disease, if money was removed from the equation)

Rather sad that money can make people do what they otherwise wouldn't do absent of cost. (I wonder how many of these same people then go to mosque, church or temple to pray believing they are good people - laugh)

Our Education, judicial, media - just about everything has been impacted by our monetary system negatively and it or this is the single biggest road block to any "open society" concept.(not to mention ending poverty, innovation and oh yeh our very survival - I say this because if our survival depended on building a road but we did not have the money to build it - as things are now, those - in power would let us all die - including them - that's stupid)

Any perceived loss of money and open anything becomes closed very quick. So how would this issue get addressed without a redo of the money systems? I cant see it working otherwise.

If we change our monetary system then everything changes - open societies would be a natural progression necessary for success. It shouldn't be that hard to do.

Something to think about - If people are responsible for climate change (assuming we forget that the climate has always been changing for a very long time) - Some people believe we can actually control the planets heating, cooling, tornadoes, rain, drought etc - in short, prevent climate/weather catastrophe - if only we all live a certain way(this is the sane thing to think these days) but somehow making a new monetary system (A completely man made apparatus and in total human control) that works for everyone seems crazy or impossible. Who in their right mind can accept such nonsense.

We can control the planets weather somehow but we are helpless against money and debt?

(I must say that I don't advocate polluting - We should stop pollution for the simple fact its dirty and gross - not because of some armageddon - then again if the cost of doing business cleanly was removed - would we have pollution? NO. You see, our money systems at the moment causes us more trouble then they are worth - as seen by the debt to asset ratio in the world - arguably the greatest threat to the environment - as well as open society is our money systems)

With the current monetary structures in place the noble goals outlined in this article will remain goals with limited achievement or worse unintended consequences IMHO.

Good Luck

progress24
April 6, 2012

W.W. writes:

Karl Popper hegel marx just another utopic delirium of a crazy vision called open society : a big Goebbels Lie

well your '' open '' Aristotelism will bring a mighter and greater Alexander this time

John C.
|
Canada
April 6, 2012

J. Cameron in Canada writes:

Just today received a post on my FB wall from someone who i worked with in the past in critical infrastructure and who is usually very level headed. Having worked a propaganda case involving a disturbed marine previously i was familiar with the link he sent me. We do need more people willing to give specific kudos where they are warranted. Most real combat vets don't usually want to talk to anyone and the result is his/her 90% other supporter vets do all the talking and their vet status gives them some credibility to the untrained eye. The 100% make the team and i love them all...but, enough is enough.

Also, domestically, these so called patriots just tear into the fabric of good hard .gov work and other partners. i realize that you are now getting a good handle on the attacks via cloud technology and other...but it is good solid field work and empowering some of our smart blue collar workers that will help turn the tide. The new 700MHz D block technology for 1st responders should include vetted and trained private utility workers as force multipliers (they are at ground level)...that's one step.

DAVPRM & working combat vets should be encouraged to debate the pessimists on social media and many of the .gov sites would be #2 for me, we used to sit and just avoid people and keep our history to ourselves...with your techno tracking in place i now feel encouraged to take on any of these attacks with words, knowing that it is drawing the bad out of the woodwork or creating buzz amongst the losers.

The relativity of good people doing good work is confusing to evil and disturbing through media to the disturbed. It is what it is though and God works in strange ways. The coincidences of life set some of these players off, they just can't handle it...they view it as sinister. People who do bad things will fall, that's just divine nature...the problem is they want to take everyone with them and we have to work to thwart "that". Just saying this as an autodidact of 61 yrs.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
April 6, 2012

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ J.Cameron,

Welcome to the blog, and I very much enjoyed reading your post...(chuckle).

You know, there's a reason I chose to (after many thousansds of posts and at the suggestion of a certain fellow from Greece who thought I should compile them into a book), I decided to title the work, "The Cure for Political Stupidity and/or How Not to Go to War with America (the idiot's guide)"

The upshot is that Dipnote is the perfect place to have it published raw and unedited, for the reasons you cite in your post in part, and you'll find many a conspiracy myth busting sessions I've been involved in via archives of this blog.

This book (longer than Tolstoy's "War and Peace at this point), simply evolved due to the fact that the US dept of State bears the brunt of anti-American sentiment and outrageous claims foisted upon this government. And I've taken my fair share of abuse for the writing of it, I can assure you.

Now Maria Otero (if she was willing and had the time to do so), could very well respond to the critics posting comment on this thread (and others @ State could do likewise), and I think she probably should consider whether on State's home turf (Dipnote being the official blog of the US dept of State), if the untruth posted should be well met by the truth of the matter or not?

To do so would in fact be a direct form of open government in tangible public/private dialogue.

In fact every one posting a thread on this blog should engage with the public comment, questions, and ideas, as part of their responsibility as public servants.

Anyway, the detractors don't seem to appreciate the fact that their words are published in the comments section here precicely because someone decided to create a more open government in the first place.

The challenge being, whether the public may inspire this government to think, by making too much sense to ignore.

I need all the help I can get...(chuckle).

Best,

EJ

Seymour P.
|
United States
April 6, 2012

Portia S. in the U.S.A. writes:

You say that President Obama has made open government a top priority for the United States. Yet over 20 noted whistleblowers have just released a petition calling for rescinding a "Transparency Award" President Obama recently received. The signatories include Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, former CIA analyst Raymond McGovern, former Pentagon analyst Lt. Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski and former National Security Agency analyst Russ Tice. Here are excerpts from their statement:

"President Obama has not decreased but has dramatically increased governmental secrecy! According to a new report to the president by the Information Security Oversight Office -- the federal agency that provides oversight of the government's security classification system -- the cost of classification for 2010 has reached over $10.17 billion. That's a 15 percent jump from the previous year, and the first time ever that secrecy costs have surpassed $10 billion. Last month, ISOO reported that the number of original classification decisions generated by the Obama administration in 2010 was 224,734 -- a 22.6 percent jump from the previous year. See 'The Price of Secrecy, Obama Edition.'

"There were 544,360 requests for information last year under the Freedom of Information Act to the 35 biggest federal agencies -- 41,000 requests more than the year before. Yet the bureaucracy responded to 12,400 fewer requests than the prior year, according to an analysis by the Associated Press.

"Obama has invoked baseless and unconstitutional executive secrecy to quash legal inquiries into secret illegalities more often than any predecessor. The list of this President's invocations of the 'state secrets privilege' has already resulted in shutting down lawsuits involving the National Security Agency's illegal wiretapping -- Jewel vs. NSA and Shubert vs. Obama; extraordinary rendition and assassination -- Anwar al-Aulaqi; and illegal torture -- Binyam Mohamed.

"Ignoring his campaign promise to protect government whistleblowers, Obama's presidency has amassed the worst record in U.S. history for persecuting, prosecuting and jailing government whistleblowers and truth-tellers. President Obama's behavior has been in stark contrast to his campaign promises which included live streaming meetings online and so forth, and rewarding whistleblowers. Obama's Department of Justice is twisting the 1917 Espionage Act to press criminal charges in five alleged instances of national-security leaks -- more such prosecutions than have occurred in all previous Administrations combined.

"The Obama DOJ's prosecution of former NSA official Thomas Drake who, up till June 9, faced 35 years in prison for having blown the whistle on the NSA's costly and unlawful warrantless monitoring of American citizens typifies the abusive practices made possible through expansive secrecy agreements and threats of prosecution.

President Obama has set a powerful and chilling example for potential whistleblowers through the abuse and torture of Bradley Manning, whose guilt he has also publicly stated prior to any trial by his, Obama's, military subordinates.

"Obama is the only president who has reenacted Fahrenheit 451 by actually having his agency collect and burn a book due to a never-justified classification excuse: Lt. Col Tony Shaffer's -Operation Dark Heart. ...

road75
April 6, 2012

W.W. writes:

When A government or state will show courage to its future it will work for an Ataraxian order - Current ''Open'' american lobbyist lie it is not the case...

Razaie S.
|
Bangladesh
April 9, 2012

Razaie Rafin S. in Bangladesh writes:

Children, the present World you are seeing was One Earth in the beginning of human civilization, later the One Earth was divided into many countries to create it a World. And they mess it to the last Hell. *It is a natural law, every thing grows until its beginning. Thus this World will grow One Earth again. The present acceleration of World's growing predicts - as before the second half of 21st Century almost whole of the World would have opened their countries to their people unto the last, excepting for Bangladesh ! just not joke, that created virtually free human to roam on One Earth. Thus the World will be One Earth again.

Never forget to bless information communication technology that has given human the 3rd generation communication what upgrades human omnipresent, one of two stem powers of the belief of God.

I wish I would be teaching in an elementary class room of 2051 with a school of children from 71 countries - those were fighting, battling one another for centuries thinking one is another's foe, very recently they knew one human is by default help to another. That changed their entire mind set. However my son would be teaching, but from somewhere else, because all those are going to happen excepting for Bangladesh. Let it be written!

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
April 7, 2012

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Open Government does not equate with naked transparency in regards to national security, as governments have reason to protect information, inteligence, methods, and sources.

This admin. like all the one's in the past still have to answer to the citizens, and our "need to know" what our government is doing around the world and within our borders, on any number of levels.

In essence, "open government" in a democracy, is a method of justifying its reason for existance, for as Churchill once put it, "democracy is the worst form of government ever invented by man, except all other forms."

The people of the world are themselves creating "open government" as a cell phone with video capability is a lot like a can opener, exposing dictatorships for what they are.

And anybody who watched Jon Stewart rip the GAO a new orifice the other night on Comedy Central can appreciate the efforts of those who demand honesty and accountability from our government.

One has to wonder what that man's life expectancy would be if he was airing his show in any other country besides America, or another democracy with a well established tradition of embracing political satire.

If men were angels, the President wouldn't need to sign into law a act of congress banning insider trading among it's members of the house and senate, because those members would have considered themselves equal under the law to begin with to anyone else making investmernts on Wall st. But governments are comprised of people,with all the human failings along with their better selves, that inherantly encompasses the attitudes, mindsets, and actions among the cadre of civil servants and people's representitives within its makeup.

The "cure for political stupidity" is quite simply "regime replacement therapy" and that starts with an evolution of mindset and attitude that embraces the notion that any government calling itself a democracy serves its people well, answeres to its citizens, and works for them-litterally, as our taxes become their paychecks.

The improvements in engagement with the public on this blog I spoke of in my prior post are just an extention of a proper attitude put into actions, and as Maria Otero well knows, there's a lot of room for improvement in this regard.

It's a small thing, a microcosm of the whole of government, this blog...and if not here, where and when will this government and its public servants accept the challenge to engage in constructive discussion put forth by this citizen?

We citizens will be the ultimate judge of just how "open" this government prides itself on being, that much DoS can count on.

And if folks are unwilling to engage the public one on one on this blog, good luck trying that effectively with the rest of the world. As I said, this blog is a microcosm of the reality the State dept is attempting to create? Well then, proceed accordingly!

EJ

Portia S.
|
United States
April 9, 2012

Portia S. in the U.S.A. writes:

The problem, as usual, is one of double standards. The US denounces other countries for refusing to adopt practices that the US would never dream of adopting itself. One man's "lack of transparency" is another man's "attention to national security" (very much like the freedom fighter/terrorist double standard.)

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
April 9, 2012

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Portia,

So, you are suggesting that we tell al-quaida how we are able to find them and hunt them down up in the hills between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and that doing so would meet your definition of "Open Government" in practice?

Oh please....I don't want to devote an entire new chapter to the book I've been writing just on your account...(chuckle).

Been trying to finish it for awhile now and Assad and others are keeping me quite busy with their own political stupidity...at this rate I may never finish it!

Portia S.
|
United States
April 10, 2012

Portia S. in the U.S.A. writes:

@ Eric, a more interesting question would be why we are hunting for Al-qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, while at the same time arming them in Syria and Libya. Or why we are actually providing training to the Iranian MEK, while they remain on our official list of terrorist organizations.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
April 10, 2012

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Portia,

Given the fact that the USA is not arming Syrian opposition or training the MEK, a way more interesting question than the one you pose is , "Who exactly does Portia think "we" to be?"

Other than Assad you may be the last person on Earth that thinks he's fighting al-quaida in the streets of Syrian cities, wheras it is quite apparent to everyone else that a lot of innocent people are being kil;led by that dictator and those who are trying to defend themselves, their homes and families after peaceful protests were met by bullets, tanks, and artillery arn't members of al-quaida or any other terrorist group.

Look, you want to decieve yourself on these things? Fine, but you arn't convincing anyone else you know what's up. So why waste your time and mine on this blog with such bogus claims against the US gov.?

My prev. question to you required just a simple yes or no to answer, and if my premis were untrue in the asking, the way I asked it should have given you cause to correct me if I was wrong in the basis of asumption inherant in the question, so at this point I'll just have to assume based on the evidence you placed in print here, that you are pretty well stuck on a pinnacle of political stupidity of your own making, and lookin' for someone to knock you off of it...

So that you can start making sense having found the truth of the matter isn't what you percieved it to be.

If you just came to Dipnote to slander the US gov. by making knowingly false accusation against it, then you might want to read the blog comment policy, because it includes this;

"Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted."

The moderators don't generally enforce their own policies, choosing rather to let common sense prevail among the readership, and resolve our own issues in constructive, OPEN debate, from what I've seen over a number of years here...but I thought I'd point this out to you so you have a chance to think about it.

There's a difference between stating something as one's honest opinion, and stating it as if it were fact, and know it is false on the face of your accusations...that's called propoganda.

"When I consider the difference (by definition) between a terrorist and a freedom fighter, The targeting of civilians, and the methods employed may serve. The philosophy behind our revolution, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence, was born from resistance to oppression with "live free, or die." being at the core of it." -EJ 2002

I offered this opinion to my government a long time ago, and it is reflected in US foreign policy, not because I stated it, but because it makes too much sense to ignore.

If you are still confused by any of this, I'll be happy to help you get off your pedestal of political stupidity.

Best,

EJ

Portia S.
|
United States
April 10, 2012

Portia S. in the U.S.A. writes:

For the benefit of Eric in New Mexico, the source for the claim that the US trained the MEK is Seymour Hersh writing in the New Yorker:

'http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2012/04/mek.html'

As far as arming Al-qaeda elements in Syria is concerned, there is a public faction fight over this issue, with Secretary Clinton publicly opposing:

'http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57386279/clinton-arming-syrian-reb...'

However, there are credible reports that arms are already reaching those elements, courtesy of the US-backed regime in Libya:

'http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/8917265/Libya...'

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
April 13, 2012

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Seymour Hearsh a "reliable source"? Yeah right, go ahead and try to sell me another fairy tail Portia..., I ain't buying it.

I see you're doing a lot of backtracking on your previous statements of baseless accusations toward the US gov. and trying to avoid responsibility for making them.

But I guess I got you to think about regurgitating conspiracy theory on this blog to some extent.

Now go do some real research and start thinking for yourself for once please.

Have a nice weekend,

EJ

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