Open government and transparency activists asked for it: data available through open APIs and digital formats. Now that we have some of it, the dark spots on the sun are beginning to appear. The data are sometimes poor cousins to the records actually used to administer government or do its business, created as side systems or even fake records for public consumption and suffering from neglect at the hands of their overtaxed makers. Balancing privacy with widespread data releases sometimes leave the records too general for use in holding government accountable, and leave crucial data locked in technological and physical file cabinets. Records stored on paper and its electronic siblings are the forgotten members of the family. The panel, representing three viewpoints on transparency and its role in democracy, will highlight successes and failures in the recent transparency and open government movements and suggest solutions for data users and providers.
by Jim March and Jeremiah Akin
This talk will expose the slight of hand tricks used by government agencies to make them appear more transparent than they are. "Transparency" is a common buzz word that suggests that government operates in a manner that is clear, visible, and understandable. Open Data Centers are supposed to increase accountability and transparency in government computer-based operations. However, can you use the data they provide to spot waste or corruption in government? Vote counting used to be a process that people could watch, but now you only see a false replica of the open counting process. Meanwhile the votes are actually counted where they can not be observed. The public needs to be able to differentiate between transparency and transparency theater, just as it needs to learn to differentiate between security and security theatre. Several examples of how government agencies produce this theatre will demonstrate how what is supposed to be transparent is intentionally hidden.
by Erine Gray, Corrie MacLaggan and Celia Cole
In 2005, the State of Texas signed a contract worth close to $900 million dollars with an alliance of private firms to manage the eligibility process for applying for Food Stamps, TANF, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance programs. The project was a failure - so much so that Texas cancelled the contract just over a year later. Applications were lost. People went hungry. Kids lost health insurance. Technology projects failed.In 2009, Indiana cancelled a $1.3 billion dollar social service privatization contract - citing poor service delivery.Big changes were necessary to modernize the delivery of these important services in Texas and Indiana, no doubt. In the end, some really good things were done by both States and the private firms they hired. But there was a lot of pain in between that could have been avoided. People unnecessarily suffered. Three people in the know will discuss what went down so that we can all learn from the mistakes and help prevent them in the future.
Whether integrating hospital ratings in your web search results, serving up Farmers Market open data, texting health tips to expecting mothers, or striving for no official website at all (what?!), your government is making moves to serve the public better in ways and places that make sense to you. This seemingly disparate collection of federal agencies are in fact collaborating in more ways than you might imagine to utilize new apps, tools, challenges, and technology allows for better citizen engagement, better access to information, and more creative thinking. As your government, we need to create an environment where we bring the information to the American people rather than making people search for the information.
What comes after Gov 2.0? In this fast-paced and highly immersive session, best-selling author William Eggers takes you on a worldwide tour of the future of public services. You’ll hear how some technology-enabled, disruptive innovations are slashing the cost of public services dramatically, yet delivering the same if not better quality. You’ll learn about the citizen markets springing up to serve community needs that previously were either handled by governments or were not addressed at all. And you’ll get an inside look at some of the new public services delivery models pioneered by entrepreneurs and social enterprises who are redefining the purview of government.
9th–13th March 2012