Hey, Open Government covers a lot of ground; it's about how a democratic government gets the job done increasingly well. That's been a big challenge in an environment where there had been no incentive for gov't workers to provide good customer/citizen service.
Open government includes disclosure of what's going on inside government, where the money goes, really tough getting there having started from a culture of secrecy. Beth's work, along with a very strong team including Aneesh Chopra and Vivek Kundra, has disclosed a lot. Check out what's on data.gov. (Disclosure: I'm on the board of Sunlight Foundation, for real the leaders in transparency and accountability, and I've seen how hard it is to get real data.)
This new trend in government also means listening to citizens and government workers to get things done better. The Department of Veterans Affairs has embraced this, listening to employees, and has started to considerable improve customer service for veterans. Specifically, that includes improved claims processing, online chat to help filling in claims forms, easy access to electronic health records, and specific process improvements like calculating benefits for hearing loss. (Disclosure: I'm on the board of the Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America, and have worked with the VA on the employee ideation process.)
Here, Beth's also working with a strong team, like Peter Levin, VA CTO, and Todd Park, HHS CTO.
A lot more's happening, particularly involving better customer service through multiple agencies. Me, I'm a nerd, an alien in Washington culture, but I can really appreciate how much Beth and others have accomplished in an environment which resists change.
Beth has been one of the core people inspiring Open Government and related improvements all over the US and beyond. She continues to do, and is playing a genuinely historic role, that including blogging like Turning Rule Writers Into Problem Solvers: Creating a 21st Century Government That's Open and Competent by Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review.
Gov’t is a tough nut to crack. We need greater transparency and more accountability. One idea: Consider the original purpose of “civil service protections” (cannot fire rules). We now have a legal system on steroids and can rely on it to protect civil servants from adverse action base of political affiliation, etc. There are plenty of great hard worker people in government, but we need to be able to address the rest.
Beth is inspirational. I hope I get the chance to meet her. The transparency movement is a fantastic step in the right direction. But transparency alone won’t get us to where we need to be. I believe we need actionable and measurable transparency. What would happen if 10 million people voted no on a bill an Congress voted yes. Maybe Senators and Reps would think differently if there was a public display of their constituents differing opinions. This is what we are trying to achieve at http://www.Votetocracy.com.