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Symposium 2012

Solution for Fostering Open Government Initiatives in Public Services

The Challenge

The provision of effective and efficient public services—such as health care, education and criminal justice—is a key task for government. In recent years, the financial crisis, digital technolo ...

The provision of effective and efficient public services—such as health care, education and criminal justice—is a key task for government. In recent years, the financial crisis, digital technologies and other big trends have complicated efforts in these areas and intensified calls for large-scale reform.

Extend open government initiatives to the legislative branch.

At both the regional and national level, open government initiatives are usually instigated and implemented by the executive branch. They are also concerned mostly with the transparency and accountability of ministries and government agencies. Disclosure of legislative and judicial information has received far less attention. Moreover, parliaments are only sparsely involved in designing and setting up open government initiatives.

Greater parliamentary transparency and involvement could contribute to more effective, more accountable, more encompassing and more inclusive open government initiatives. In their daily workings, parliaments amass a great deal of useful expertise and information that should be available to the public. Transparency about its members and its budget would allow citizens to hold their representatives accountable and it would make lawmaking responsive to the electorate's demands.

To guarantee comprehensive accountability of government, it is important that not only the executive branch is monitored and subject to strict open government standards. Including citizens’ representatives in open government initiatives can also help to raise awareness among citizens themselves, thus attracting more active participation in public affairs.

Parliaments themselves would gain much from increased transparency and greater involvement in open government measures. They can also improve their image by supporting their own accountability. In addition, they can gain leverage over other government branches by passing anticorruption and transparency bills. But concrete measures to include parliaments in open government need to take account of the specific political culture and organization of a region or country.

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    Symposium 2012

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    Polity, Civil Society