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Open Government

This topic explores the concepts and initiatives that make up open government and open data: maximizing the information and raw data that government publishes online regarding its activities. This topic looks at how open government can provide a two-way stream of benefits for government and the public. For government, it can be a way to crowd-source helpful research, analysis, and innovation from external experts and the public at large. For the public, access to more information and data makes it easier to hold government to account. In addition to these benefits, this topic examines the challenges of open government, namely confidentiality and political considerations. Related terms include 'government 2.0', 'wiki-government', and 'open source governance' (Carleton PADM 5472B).

Topic Learning Outcome:  Upon mastering this topic, students will be knowledgeable the ongoing developments through which governments are making more and more information about their processes available to citizens. Students will be aware of the potential benefits for governments and citizens of increased transparency enabled by developments in IT.

Core Concepts associated with this Topic: Framing of Information; Information Economy; Intellectual Property.

Recommended Reading

Carleton: PADM 5472B Technology and Public Administration

Power of Information Taskforce. 2009. Power of Information Taskforce Report. pp. 21-35. Available at

Noveck, Beth Simone. 2009. “Peer‐Patent: A Modest Proposal” and “The Single Point of Failure.” In Wiki Government: How technology can make government better, democracy stronger, and citizens more powerful. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press. Pp. 3-44.

Benkler, Yochai. 2006. “Peer production and sharing”. In The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. New Haven: Yale University Press. Pp. 59‐90. Available at

Davies, Tim. 2010. “4. Data” In Open data, democracy and public sector reform: A look at open government data use from Available at Pp. 22‐35.

Sample Assessment Questions: 

1.)   In advanced democracies, the ongoing trend is towards more “open government” with more information being made accessible to media and the citizenry. Under what circumstances is government justified in resisting this trend, and restricting the amount of information that it makes publicly available?

2.)   What is crowd-sourcing? How can crowd-sourcing potentially improve government performance and decision making?

3.)   How can the evolution of open government strengthen democratic accountability in advanced democracies?


Page created by Sean Goertzen on 22 April 2015.


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© University of Toronto 2008
School of Public Policy and Governance