Andrea DiMaio posts a great critique of the Open Government and eParticipation movement in Europe (and presumably worldwide) writing from PEP-NET. He brings up some points that need resolution, so we can avoid being involved in a self-supporting set of fantasies and rather be involved in a movement with concrete goals.
The issues break down into two main areas:
1) The potential disenfranchisement of political elites, and
2) The costs involved.
These are crucial issues. As we move beyond folks not opposing the strategic use of ICT in Government to create better and more sustainable governance we need to address the realpolitik issues that surround our efforts and these are two very important ones.
The issue of political disenfranchisementis interesting. I will put a pin in the discussion over direct democracy and whether citizens can be trusted to engage in political discourse on their own for right now and just assume, for the sake of argument, that we are focusing on extending the current representative democracy. Having worked within one of those democracies for years, I can shed some light on one of the major problems that will be solved through open government and eParticipation efforts worldwide.
Many representative democracies become captured by interest groups who have a significant amount of organizational impact. Sometimes this power gets exerted in such a way to actually distort the real insight these impact groups have into what the mass of people inside the society actually believe. If only 2 percent of an MPs district actually favor gun control, but have an organizational impact such that the electoral impact cannot be ignored, the policy affect is a distortion of what would be predicted in the tenets of representative democracy. Now, if data is widely made available, participation is encouraged and energized, a new possibility comes to the defense of political leaders. In response to the political demands of these interest groups, they will now have the comfort of real data, real participation and a higher fidelity model of the needs and desires of ALL of their constituents, not just those who belong to powerful organizations. So, instead of simply bowing to the power of these groups, political leaders could now be free to pursue the issues and positions that drove them to political involvement in the first place. So, far from disenfranchisement, the eParticipation and Open Government movement could actually encourage the brave political leaders now and in the future to continue to stand on the side of their electorate.
The costs involvedwith transformation are important as well. But the real question is how effective is our current investment mix. There is certainly a need for governments to provide services in many cases. But we are also involved with many things that dont make much sense and would work far better, and at a lower cost structure, if we treated the need for service delivery as a platform engagement. So if we were to help governments with a framework for analyzing their entire enterprise of investments, and help them to decide when a platform is to be invested in, when a service is to be provided directly but that delivery is to be commoditized and when political input dictates delivery regardless of efficiency, then we would get to a balanced set of investments. That balanced set of investments would include the ability to handle the increase in demand for services coupled with the decrease in tax bases. So if we view cost with a total enterprise view, it could actually be reduced in a new world.
Latest posts by Matt (see all)
- Government Platforms, Co-Creation and Time for Revolution #gov3 #GaaP #CoCreate - March 4, 2017
- A New Call To Industrial Growth - March 11, 2013
- The New Industrialists – Datacenters and Rebuilding the Economy - March 10, 2013