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Does anyone outside D.C. really care about open government?

That buzz you’re hearing about open government? It’s more of whisper caught up in an echo chamber.

That’s the theory put forward by Harlan Wax at GovLoop. Wax was responding to a debate topic posted as part of the FCW Challenge, a joint FCW-GovLoop project to spark debate about key topics in the federal IT community.

Our thesis was that the Open Government plans recently released by the Obama administration are the policy-equivalent of Twinkies: You can put them on the shelf and they will last forever, but no one’s going to eat them.

Wax agreed wholeheartedly.

“How many months in and what have we seen?” he wrote. “The government behemoth continues to lumber forward without change in direction, speed, or response. Ninety percent of the American populace don't know what 2.0 is; of the remaining 10 percent, 50 percent are not engaged as it has no direct impact to them; of that remaining 5 percent, 50 percent are journalists, media and watchdog groups.

"So we are left with a knowledgable 2.5 percent as to what constitutes 2.0 and at that point we need to assess whether or not they have a dog in the fight, and which dog is it.”

What do you think? Check out the conversation here.

You can also read more about the FCW Challenge here.

Here are the other topics up for debate:

Government social networks are Towers of Babel, doomed to topple

Acquisition 2.0 will give ethics officers the heebie-jeebies

A mandate for the cloud is wishing for pie in the sky.

The federal workplace will never change. Telework? Fuggedaboudit!

Cybersecurity: This is a job for McGruff the Crime Dog.

Posted by John Stein Monroe on May 11, 2010 at 7:25 PM


Reader Comments

Fri, May 14, 2010 G.A. Ga.

We need to move away from Federal programs and towards state ran programs. The Federal Government should police them. Case in point - What is our return on investment for the Energy department?

Wed, May 12, 2010 Michelle USA

The internet has changed things; one of the main changes is the viability of news media watchdog groups to produce reliable stories on government. In that process, the average person is no more interested now than they were then (like when the electoral college was developed). BUT for those that are; for those that fight, the hunt for information comes from a myriad number of sources and this would be just one of them. Yes it is relevant; and yes it is needed. As for the comments about this administration vs the last administrations, interesting. Not by any means correct, but interesting.

Wed, May 12, 2010

Open Government is obviously a political ploy. If this administration really believed they would have started at the top. Instead we have an administration that keeps far more secrets about itself than is normal. However, they are getting away with it since most of the population is not informed of what is really going since many get all their information (if they are even looking) from a news media heavily slanted in favor of this administration instead of doing their job to keep the Government honest and in check.

Wed, May 12, 2010

If I want to discuss government issues, or learn what others are saying, I will go to a real (commercial or private) Blog to do so - not to some Federal Agency sponsored Web-site that screens/censors every comment before posting it - I suggest that government entities should do the same. What arrogance on the part of this administration - to think that we need government-sponsored social media in order to have an open forum. By the way - censoring responses on government-sponsored social media is probably a violation of the (Constitution's) First Amendment provision on the right of citizens to petition the government.

Wed, May 12, 2010

I'd venture a guess the Wax may be correct. Not every citizen is interested in a participatory engagement. In that vane, we can't even get most registered voters to vote. On a different note, knowledge is vital to innovation despite what was said in the previous comment. Unless you are into sifting a mountain of irrelevancy to get s single good idea, the commenters need to have some basic understanding of the problem being discussed. Transparency has both a light side and a dark side. finally, it has a huge price. I suspect the people making the most noise about it are the ones who think they can profit from it, regardless of the cost to the taxpayer.

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