March 2, 2010    /    by

What does the Open Government Directive mean for local government?

Federal government web administrators certainly have job security these days – due to the ‘Open Government Directive’ unveiled by President Obama’s administration nearly 3 months ago. The 11-page document requires Federal agencies to take immediate steps in the areas of transparency, participation and collaboration. This initiative is designed to empower the public via the internet.

But what does the Directive mean for local government – the closest form of government to the people?

I expect that many forward-thinking local governments will strive to achieve the standards laid out in the Directive. This reminds me of the local response to Section 508 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act. While Federal agencies are required to comply with the standards (which require web technology to be accessible to people with disabilities), responsible local governments are adopting similar accessibility practices as well. Similarly, the Open Government Directive will likely provide the framework for municipal adoption. We don’t want to surrender the cornerstone of municipal government legacy in being the ‘government closest to the people’.