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OMB Openness Directive: The State & Local Take

John Slye of GovWin posted Wednesday about the "OMB's Open Government Directive – Beyond Transparency" with regard to Federal Agencies. These directives also involve associated overlaps that will affect State & Local agencies as they trickle down from the Federal Level. We have seen this trend in the past. For example, after the implementation of Data.Gov by Federal Agencies, individual states later adopted similar websites in keeping with the Federal Government. The OMB hopes to see States and Localities integrate the directives listed in the OGB in the future as well. Transparency made the Top 10 IT Priorities for 2009 by State CIOs, already illustrating the Federal Government's influence.

The OGD illustrates the type of out-of-the-box thinking that their CIO, Vivek Kundra, has a reputation for using. Kundra, as the CTO of the District of Columbia, tried a small scale open dataset experiment for the City in 2008-2009. Kundra created the " Apps for Democracy " program to find innovative technologies in what was termed the "digital public square." The first edition of this program yielded 47 web, iphone and Facebook apps in 30 days. By engaging citizens to help solve a city's problems, Kundra created a more efficient and impactful method for a fraction of the cost. Apps created solved a variety of problems, from finding carpooling groups to finding the nearest grocery store/cleaners. Other States and Localities, by using some of the Directive's ideas and implementing their own openness-driven dataset websites, could see similar such results.

For Healthcare the Open Government Directive could mean a healthier and more informed public in the future. Using open datasets, further analysis could be conducted similar to the "disease tracking systems" used by the Center for Medicare and Medicare Services ( CMS ). Our State hospitals could become collaborative and interconnected with a systems integration dataset. This could lead to more a more educated allocation of resources in hospitals, better patient tracking, and perhaps a greater understanding of uncured diseases through the collaboration of a national research/observations database. With states transferring over to Electronic Health Records Systems, goals such as these are very attainable.

For the Justice/Public Safety market we have seen interoperability measures taken very aggressively on the S&L level, from Consolidated Dispatch Centers, to Radio and Communications Systems. Much of the JPS data is becoming electronic, through Records Management Systems, Case Management Systems and Electronic Monitoring. The integration of multiple systems has been already in use by a State/locality and connecting them to a "digital public square" like Kundra did with the District of Columbia, and the possibilities are boundless. Through integration of the produced data sets from these technologies, enforcement officials could see trends and share information across the country easily. The Apps for Democracy Program illustrated just how much citizens could do in the JPS market with these datasets, producing many crime-related apps based on geographical region etc.

On the State and Local level, one of the major problems that could pop up would be the instance of few people able to manipulate and access the data. More people would need to engage with the information not for their personal benefit, but for the benefit of the public as a whole. If Americans are to take advantage of newly available data sets, community institutions need to alert them to the ways in which they can do so.

State transparency websites will be very useful to most people dealing with the Public Sector. The possibilities for convenient catalogs and live data feeds available to the public are endless in the realm of new technologies and metrics for the government. Through unique analysis and manipulation of the data, processes can become streamlined and more efficient. On the State and Local Level, research and studies would be less likely to be duplicated, and states could more easily coordinate their knowledge into time and cost savings.

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