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US Falling Behind in Race Toward Open Government

Here’s an interesting article in Bloomberg about open government initiatives around the world and how the US is falling behind.

Open Government

From the article: (emphasis added)

When Brazil‘s government buys anything from fighter jets to a fancy villa, details are available online within 24 hours. Such disclosures are a powerful way to combat corruption, and are a model for official openness that could inspire other nations.

Brazil’s online portal started in 2004. Among its contents: information about Brazilian outlays in advance of hosting the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. The site includes an online channel for whistleblower complaints.

Because corruption is a major problem in Brazil, timely release of spending data, including daily information about the use of government credit cards, is designed to help the media and opposition politicians in Brazil reveal crooked behavior. If a minister buys a truckload of wine with her government card, or pays off a cousin, someone will notice.

And it’s not just in Brazil, the open government movement is gaining steam around the world:

Enthusiasm for open government is taking hold not just in Brazil, but in countries such as Kenya, India and the U.K. Kenya last month became the first sub-Saharan African country to launch a government-data portal. India is a beehive of activity; it has initiated ambitious plans for providing public services with the help of mobile phones in rural areas and for electronic citizen engagement in government generally.

Later this month, President Obama is set to address the UN General Assembly meeting to praise open government and announce an Open Government Partnership led by Brazil and the U.S.

This sounds like a great opportunity for IT developers to take a closer look at open government. As pressure mounts to make spending more accountable, there is sure to be demand for solutions that enable transparency.