Saturday, December 6, 2008

Transparency and government: The times they are a changing...

Check out this new feature found on Change.gov: Your Seat at the Table

In a memo released today, Obama-Biden Transition Project Co-chair John D. Podesta announced that all policy documents from official meetings with outside organizations will be publicly available for review and discussion on Change.gov.

This means we're inviting the American public to take a seat at the table and engage in a dialogue about these important issues and ideas -- at the same time members of our team review these documents themselves.

This is transparency. Someone pitches an idea, everyone knows about it, anyone can comment, and anyone can submit an alternative proposal. Should this not be how all government works? All publicly funded entities? This is a big step forward for participatory democracy.

While we're at it, I need to point out the copyright policy found on Change.gov: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Some would argue that Change.gov is a quasi-public web site, and that its content should be in the public domain. As we know, there was a time when everything created with Federal dollars was released into the public domain. Unfortunately, government bureaucrats found all sorts of ways around that requirement, and increasingly more and more information produced at taxpayer expense has bled into the proprietary domain. All one has to do is look at the amount of government funds that get laundered through public universities. The research findings produced from those funds get filtered through for-profit publishers where access is restricted through extremely expensive firewalls. That's just one tiny example of the mess that has been created. I'm quite happy with the Creative Commons license they have chosen as a transitional step by the transition team.

The copyright found on Change.gov is a very big deal. It signals that newer ways of thinking are permeating the transition team. This is to be applauded, and I'm taking the CC 3.0 license as a sign of great hope that we are on the verge of returning to a more sane, and people-centric approach to government produced knowledge.

1 comment:

Evan Ravitz said...

Being able to comment here and at Change.gov is great. But people need more than another voice: a vote on the laws we live under.

The most evolved project for a hybrid participatory/representative democracy is led by former Sen. Mike Gravel. Registered voters can now vote to ratify the National Initiative for Democracy at http://Vote.org, much as citizens ratified the Constitution at the Conventions when the Legislatures wouldn't!