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Beth Noveck: a better way to govern

Author: Adrian Offerman

Beth Noveck, the former US deputy CTO for open government and currently Director of The Governance Lab at New York University, spoke recently at the "Week of Public Innovation" in Paris. In her speech she told the audience about her experience at the White House and gave her vision of an open and innovative governance involving civil society.

The first part of her presentation was basically about issues with citizen participation and social media on the one hand and security on the other, and how to bring these parties together. In the second part she identified seven essential steps to set up an open and innovative government:

  1. Vision: The creation of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and the symbolic act of sixty countries ratifying the charter for open government is a real source of inspiration.
  2. Policy and Legislation: OGP also includes policies that foster innovation, such as exchanging talent with the private sector and the academic world, tendering specifically in the field of new technologies, making it easy to incorporate open source software, and writing tenders for the best solution to a problem instead of the solution least expensive or the most fashionable.
  3. Platforms: Online platforms like data.gouv.fr and data.gov.uk are an absolute necessity for the "discoverability" of open data. The portals provide a central location where data is inventoried and can be downloaded. Soon these platforms will become essential for the state to help use the information it collects from the private sector and citizens in order to improve government. That requires the development of tools for analysis and visualisation.
  4. Action and Community: The injection of talent from the field of new technologies is crucial. In addition, communities and groups of agitators and innovators seeking change need to be encouraged and cultivated.
  5. Training: Training and education are essential to foster this culture of innovation. For example, the World Bank has launched a class on civil engagement on the Coursera platform.
    In addition, gatherings need to be organised in order to connect innovators and reformers, so they can support and learn from each other.
  6. Proof: In cooperation with academia, we need to understand what works and what does not work.
  7. Believing: Political will and a legal framework give us access to the technological advances that lead to these innovations, but above all we need to believe that we can invent and implement a better way to govern, that is more legitimate, more efficient, and more democratic.