What’s in a Name? A comparison of ‘open government’ definitions across seven OGP members
No longer restricted to access to information laws and accountability measures, “open government” is now associated with a broad range of goals and functions, including Giving citizens opportunities to provide input into government decision-making leads to more effective governance, improved public service delivery, and more equitable outcomes. Technical specificatio..., By opening up data and making it sharable and reusable, governments can enable informed debate, better decision making, and the development of innovative new services. Technical specifications: Polici..., the improvement of public services and government efficiency. The 59 country strong The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a multi-stakeholder initiative focused on improving government transparency, ensuring opportunities for citizen participation in public matters, and strengthen... More (OGP) suggests that consensus on the value of open government is emerging amongst public officials. Similarly, academics have shown a renewed interest in open government as they discuss, debate and critique the meaning and role of open government reforms today. Yet, despite the diverse aims and tools characterizing contemporary open government, public officials and academics typically approach the subject as a cohesive unit of analysis, making sweeping—and generally nonempirical—claims about its implications, without accounting for the homegrown flavours that may characterize open government in practice. Simply put, the practice and study of contemporary open government suffers a lack of definitional clarity: what exactly is open government today, and how does it vary across governments? In response to these questions, this paper analyses the content of open government policy documents in seven OGP member states (Azerbaijan, Brazil, Canada, the Netherlands, Kenya, United Kingdom, and the United States), providing the first systematic, empirically-grounded multicountry comparison of contemporary open government. The paper suggests where the term departs from and retains its original meaning, and how its definition varies across different governments.