The Demand Side of Open Government

More than 50 governments have submitted action plans to the Open Government Partnership, each laying out how they will be more responsive and responsible to citizens. As part of their commitments, governments are opening up data long locked in ministry file cabinets, leveraging technology to create new tools meant to increase engagement with citizens, and launching new services that make interaction between citizens and government easier and faster.

Yet there is a key consideration often missing from government action plans: the “how” of implementation. New online tools are great, but if people don’t know about them they can’t improve lives. New services are useful, but if there’s no way to learn how to use them, old and inefficient interaction mechanisms will prevail. And data can’t be truly transparent if there’s no way to see it.

Beyond Access’s research found that government action plans typically focus on the supply side. This brief looks at the demand side, laying out why shared, guided public internet access must be built into OGP plans and providing examples of how modern public libraries can help governments meet their commitments.