The “Open Government Reform” Movement

December 06, 2016 by Suzanne J. Piotrowski

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Open government initiatives, which include not only transparency but also participation and collaboration policies, have become a major administrative reform. As such, these initiatives are gaining cohesiveness in literature. President Obama supported open government through a range of policies including the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a multinational initiative. The OGP requires member organizations to develop open government national action plans, which are used as the basis for my analysis. To frame this paper, I use and expand upon David Heald’s directions and varieties of transparency framework. A content analysis of the 62 commitments in the US Second Open Government National Action Plan was conducted. The analysis provides two findings of note: First, the traditional view of transparency was indeed the most prevalent in the policies proposed. In that respect, not much has changed, even with the OGP’s emphasis on a range moof approaches. Second, openness among and between agencies played a larger than expected role. While the OGP pushed an array of administrative reforms, the initiative had limited impact on the type of policies that were proposed and enacted. In sum, the OGP is an administrative reform that was launched with great fanfare, but limited influence in the US context. More research needs to be conducted to determine is the “open government reform” movement as a whole suffers from such problems in implementation.