“Open government” should never be an oxymoron. And thankfully, more and more national governments are making sure it isn’t by increasing their transparency.
Since the 2011 launch of the Open Government Partnership, its membership has grown to 75 countries. These countries allow their citizens to scrutinize government operations. They provide access to official documents and proceedings through computers or mobile phones and respond to citizens through digital tools. Finally, they encourage citizens to help spot and fight government corruption.
Major developed countries and some smaller nations — Estonia, Chile, Costa Rica and Singapore among them — top the open government rankings published by the World Justice Project. Other nations are making significant progress. Here are a few examples:
- Allows citizens to track governmental actions online and invites their input.
- Buys goods and services online, with its e-procurement system, adding efficiency and transparency and lowering costs.
- Codifies anti-corruption and access-to-information measures and plans additional laws.
- Allows citizens to monitor and verify online the delivery of public services.
- Coordinates “open government” efforts with a designated unit in the president’s office.
- Legally protects whistleblowers and staffs a special office for public access to information.
- Holds public forums on plans for national and local development.
- Provides public access to government revenue and spending data online.
- Solicits online feedback from citizens on services and proposed policies.
- Puts 2 million court decisions online and gathers statistics to allow assessment of courts.
- With a prime minister and a ministry overseeing transparency activities, holds monthly meetings, hackathons and training, plus celebrates an open government week.
- Runs an online platform that allows citizens to apply for a marriage certificate, driver’s license, passport and other documents.
- Publishes census data and government reports on an open-data platform.
- Builds a network of one-stop centers to provide IT support to people without Internet or mobile access in using public services online.
- Offers online voter registration and candidate information.
- Puts data on the oil and gas industry online.
- Hosts a website that channels requests for information directly to government agencies.
- Requests public input on policies online.
- Allows citizens to pay bills online or through mobile devices.
- Releases a “citizen’s budget” written in layman’s language.