Technology Foundation for Open Government
New York State Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo has proposed a five point plan in The New NY Agenda: A Plan for Action. 1. Clean Up Albany; 2. Get Our Fiscal House in Order; 3. Rightsizing Government; 4. NY Works; and 5. NY Leads. His vision of New NY calls for an open government with greater transparency that will restore public trust, further the core mission of NY government, and create economic value for the state.
A transparent government promotes accountability by providing New Yorkers with information about what the New NY Government is doing. It stimulates more citizen engagement by allowing New Yorkers to contribute ideas and expertise so that the New NY government can have evidence-based public policy making with the benefit of information dispersed in society. To reduce cost and improve government services, a transparent government calls for a broad range of collaboration by encouraging partnerships and cooperation within the New NY State government, local government, and with private sectors.
Information Technology is a critical enabler for transparency, participation, and collaboration. Useful information technology for open government includes data and information governance; digital record management; interoperable data exchange; Web technology and social media. Together they form the technological foundation for Open Government.
Data and Information Governance
Public information should be accurate, consistent, complete, and useful. A good government Data and Information Governance (DIG) program is essential to improve the quality of government information and the underlying data. It is needed to create an enabling data and information policy framework for open government. It helps identify high-value information. High-value information is information that increase government accountability and responsiveness; further the core mission of the government; reduce the cost for government services; and create economic opportunity for the state. It should help drive regulatory compliance and protect personally identifiable information for New Yorkers. It is a bridge for information sharing with citizens and businesses. The governance body should define measures of improved transparency.
Digital Record Management
An effective digital record management is a must for a transparent and open New NY government. New York state government holds the most comprehensive collection of information for New York citizens, spanning from birth to death. Our State government also holds the most comprehensive records for businesses and institutions based in New York. Effective digital record management capability is essential for timely publication of the underlying data that supports the high-value information. For example, a technology practice called Master Data Management (MDM) is needed to resolve duplicative digital records about our citizens and businesses. MDM is not only a foundation for a good Data and Information Governance (DIG) program, but also an essential tool to link citizens’ and businesses’ data together from dispersed systems to form unified and coherent view of the records stored in New York State government. MDM, along with other data quality tools, can improve the quality of government information and enable collaboration.
Public Data Exchange
Collaboration among government agencies, across all levels, and between government and broader society requires data sharing and information exchange. Data sharing drives for more efficient use of public resources and reduces cost of government services for taxpayers. To enable data sharing, a coordinated data exchange infrastructure should emerge from the often fragmented information exchange landscape across industries in New York State. Such data exchange infrastructure should be based on open Internet platform. The standards for public information and citizens’ data should be identified and harmonized within NY Government. The exchange should be governed by well founded public and private consortia.
Web Technology and Social Media
An immediate step towards transparency is to publish public information online. Web technology and social media clear the publication channel for information. It paves way for timely dissemination of public information. It provides new and easier methods for public engagement and participation. It can often simplify the participatory processes for citizens and stakeholders. Wiki, Blog, and Forum are innovative methods to obtain ideas and increase collaboration with those in the private sector, non-profit, and academic communities. By stimulating thoughtful discourse and public participation, we can better understand what the public expect and respond to the needs and demands as identified.
Lastly, a transparent, participatory, and collaborative government in New York State is one that is built on a sustainable open government program. Such a program should be open in nature, business driven, customer centric, and collaboration focused.