Faces of Open Government: Suzanne J. Piotrowski
1. What is the best example of Open Government you’ve seen in the US?
It is hard to pick one but I do feel that much of the innovation happening in the US right now is at the local level. There is a group in New Haven, Connecticut called DataHaven that is part of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership. They collect, interpret, and share public data about issues important to their local community
2. Why are you personally so interested in Open Government- what in your background brought you here? How did you first get involved with OGP?
Wanting to know what your government is doing on your behalf and becoming involved in that process is my fundamental desire. My interest in the field has evolved with my research. I initially started by studying freedom of information laws, then transparency more generally and now open government.
I first got involved in the OGP as the IRM researcher on the United States Second National Action Plan.
3. What are the skills necessary to be a good IRM researcher? What kind of personality does it take?
Patience, the ability to balance competing viewpoints, and asking good questions are all essential. In the US context, having good people working with you to tackle the job is necessary.
4. What is your biggest challenge as the United States researcher for the IRM?
Without a doubt the number and breadth of the commitments. Parallel to this is the size of the civil society and government communities working on these commitments.
5. What do you feel is the greatest success of the US’s involvement in OGP?
The United States has the tendency to look inward and the OGP puts the US in the global context, which is useful and productive for both government and civil society.
6. What is the greatest weakness of the US in OGP?
From a substantive perspective, the tendency to equate open government and e-government is narrowing. From a logistical perspective, the large geographic area and being able to reach out of constituents in different regions of the country is difficult for both the government and the IRM researcher.
Also, the broader community interested in governance and public administration in the United States has little to no understanding of what is the OGP.
7. You’ve been quite proactive in reaching out to Civil Society in the US, why is that and how successful have you been?
I strongly believe you can learn from everyone and put a major emphasis on outreach. With the use of technology, we were able to do quite a bit with a limited amount of time and resources.
8. This month IRM releases 39 progress reports – how are you feeling about that?
I’m very interested in seeing how the OGP process evolves over time.