4 Ways Open Government Has Impacted Public Administration


4 Ways “Open Government” has Impacted Public Administration

What is meant by the term “Open Government”?

Open government refers to the transparency with which a governing body makes data available for public use, reuse, and distribution. The government collects vast amounts of data through many avenues such as census figures, scientific research, health care statistics, and more. This data provides the backbone of decisions made within government; the concept of open government means that this information has been made available for public viewing. Data should be easy to obtain and access without licensing that restricts use and distribution. It is also important that the data be made available in a digital format eliminating technological barriers and allowing for accessibility on most devices.

Statistics on the Adoption of the Open Government Model

Open government is being put into practice as the result of growing requirements for transparency voiced by citizens and constituents. According to a digital government report by Accenture in 2015:
- 86 percent of people surveyed are looking to maintain or increase digital interaction with the government
-73 percent reported being unsatisfied or neutral in regards to digital government services.
- 66 percent of people want online transactions for licenses and permits
- 45 percent want online tax services
- 39 percent would like to resolve fines and tickets online
- 38 percent want to report nonemergency issues online.

Since its launch in 2009, the site Data.gov has been widely used.
- 192,632 datasets are currently available
- 73 agencies and sub-agencies participate
- 519 publishers participate

Impacts on Public Administration

Higher Transparency and Accountability

The first impact is straightforward. Transparency in government data means this information is in the open and easily accessible by anyone. Since the public has the opportunity to read and check government data, governing bodies are held accountable to the public for providing accurate information and showing aspects of their operations and decision making processes.

Increased Engagement from Constituents

The open government model allows for a greater level of participation and involvement from citizens. Constituents gain an increased awareness of the issues and policies of their government, while being able to give quick feedback on the efficacy of policies put into action. During elections, voter guides help constituents learn about candidates and pool information with other voters in order to make educated decisions. Open government data affects citizens on a local level as well. For instance, data denoting instances and locations of crime can alert people of potential dangers in their neighborhoods and how they can keep themselves and their neighbors safe. New apps also allow people to directly communicate with local enforcement agencies when they see cause for concern.

Approachability Leads to Trust

Open government reduces barriers that separate governing officials from the citizens who elect them, and between neighboring jurisdictions. Lawmakers and officials are more approachable due to online public forums and social media platforms. When citizens are able to voice their opinions and provide feedback, then track the actions of their local leadership and government agencies, they increase their trust of public officials and their messages.

Improved Efficiency of Services

One goal of making government data available to the public is to improve and confirm the effectiveness of services provided by governments, their nonprofit partners in communities, and businesses in various industries. The farming industry benefits from being aware of and analyzing data on weather, geography, and crops that aid in the development of advanced techniques and improved yields. Census data, health information, and hospital admissions figures serve to analyze performance, catch emerging trends, and provide more efficient health services in areas that have the greatest need.

Examples of Open Government Models in Use


The U.S. General Services Administration’s Technology Transformation Service developed the website Data.gov in May of 2009 with the goal of making the government more open and accountable. Currently Data.gov makes datasets from federal and non-federal sources available in 40 U.S. states, 47 U.S. cities and counties, 53 international countries, and 165 international regions.


This platform facilitates communication for citizens and communities to improve transparency and collaboration with their governments by reporting nonemergency issues. Governments participate by tracking, managing, and replying to civic issues through the SeeClickFix platform.


GovLab is a research laboratory project developed and run by New York University that highlights the benefits of the collaboration between government and business. The website publishes a list called Open Data 500, showing how businesses across a range of industries, such as health care, energy, finance, and law, are improved by the open data made available by the federal government.

Citizen engagement in government has been difficult to achieve due to apathy, indifference, and lack of faith in governing institutions. The open government model is changing this by promoting communication and cooperation between citizens and the government. This trend has a major impact on the field of public administration resulting in a union between officials and citizens working toward improved efficiency and efficacy of government.

Special Service Phone Numbers

The Federal Communications Commission established the N11 codes, which are three-digit telephone numbers for citizens to contact special community services. The numbers act as a shortcut to reach government services in a variety of situations, such as 211 for public, health and community services, 511 for road and traffic conditions and 911 for emergency response. This service benefits everyone, especially those who are not online, providing another avenue for open government access.

Learn More

By learning more about the University of San Francisco Online Master of Public Administration (MPA), you will be taking an important first step toward pursuing your professional goals and commitment to social justice. Our program is designed for professionals who want to become effective managers and civic leaders who affect change through policy management and advocacy.


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