Open government

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Open government is the political doctrine which holds that the business of government and state administration should be opened at all levels to effective public scrutiny and oversight. In its broadest construction it opposes reason of state and national security considerations, which have tended to legitimize extensive state secrecy. The origins of open government arguments can be dated to the time of the European Enlightenment to debates about the proper construction of a then nascent civil society.

Among recent developments is the theory of open source governance which advocates the application of the philosophies of the free software movement to democratic principles to enable interested citizens to get more directly involved in the legislative process. Government transparency has proven in case studies to lead to more accountability, check against mismanagement and corruption, boost public confidence, and create informed participation of citizens.[1]


Open government is widely seen as a key hallmark of contemporary democratic practice and is often linked to the passing of freedom of information legislation. The United States passed its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in 1966.

Impediments to an open government

Even given the passing of Freedom of Information Act the Government looks for way to restrict or avoid the Freedom of Information Act or Open Meetings Laws. Impediments include:[2]

  • Discretion without accountability
  • Excessive Rules
  • Charging an excessive amount for information
  • Lack of timely, publicized information
  • Lack of resources to publish information
  • Information not accessible to the disadvantaged
  • Lack of a service culture in government



Portions of this article were taken and modified from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia under the GNU license.