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The open government movement—which has emphasized transparency, collaboration, and participation at the Federal, state, and local levels—is finding increasing application on the international and diplomatic stage, as evidenced most recently by the launch of the Open Government Platform, which aims to promote government transparency and citizen engagement on a global scale.
The Open Government Platform (OGPL) is a global initiative founded by the governments of India and the United States to make more government data, documents, tools, and processes publicly accessible through development and distribution of a freely available, open source on-line platform. By making these data available in useful machine-readable formats, the OGPL platform allows developers, analysts, media, and academia to gain new insights and develop novel applications that will enhance delivery of information and services to citizens and enable more informed decision-making.
At last week’s U.S.-India Joint Commission Meeting on Science and Technology, OSTP Director and Presidential science and technology advisor John Holdren and Dr. Sam Pitroda, Adviser to Prime Minister of India on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovation, launched the second phase of the OGPL, which makes the platform freely available to other governments. As OGPL becomes more widely adopted, it will allow developers and civil society groups use government data to create innovative applications that help citizens and governments work together across the world. Because OGPL uses an open-source method of development, the entire OGPL community will be able to contribute to future technology enhancements, open government solutions, and community-based technical support.
Also last week, in an agreement negotiated by the Indian government, it was announced that Rwanda has signed on as the first of two pilot countries. The United States is currently reviewing possible candidates and is expected to announce the second pilot country soon. Over the next six months, the joint U.S.- India team that created the OGPL will work with additional countries to unleash the power of open government using the worldwide open source community.
India and the United States have already committed to use OGPL for their respective data.gov portals and the US data.gov portal is already using portions of OGPL functionality. OGPL has released the open source code for the project, and both the United States and India expect to deploy OGPL this year based on feedback from the open source community.
The Open Government Platform exemplifies the belief that transparency, participation, and collaboration are universal concepts applicable to all levels of government in countries around the world.
Chris Vein is Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Government Innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy