Posted April 6th 2010 at 11:25 pm by
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Open Government Reading List

Since President Obama issued his Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government in 2008, there has been renewed interest in these topics at all levels of government in the U.S. The memorandum and the corresponding Open Government Initiative has sparked a wave of innovation across the federal government to make data more available, communicate to citizens in new ways, and even provide opportunities for participation and discussion of policy ideas. At the state and local levels, the ongoing development of web technologies has made possible a host of innovative projects freeing data, crowd-sourcing policy, and opening up government processes.

Although some of the technology used may be new, the topics are not. Participation in democratic governance has been subject to debate, regulation, and experimentation for decades. Many questions surround the topics. In an era of limited resources, why should governments spend resources making raw data available, and if they do, what is the purpose? How should participation be integrated with representative democracy? How can the government invite collaboration in policymaking without abandoning the role of policy experts?

In this way, open government is connected to debates about the nature of power, the structure of democracy, and the role of information and expertise in government. This reading list is exploratory, and your comments and suggestions are welcomed.

Open Government Initiative

1. President Obama, Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, January 2008. and The White House, Open Government: Progress Report to the American People (PDF), December 2009.

2. Lathrop, Daniel, and Laurel Ruma. Open Government: Collaboration, Transparency, and Participation in Practice. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly Media, Inc., 2010.


3. Fung, Archon, Mary Graham, and David Weil. Full Disclosure : The Perils and Promise of Transparency. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

4. Robinson, David G., Harlan Yu, William P. Zeller, and Edward W. Felten. “Government Data and the Invisible Hand.” Yale Journal of Law & Technology, Vol. 11, p. 160, 2009 (1905).


5. Arnstein, Sherry R. “A Ladder of Citizen Participation.” Journal of the American Planning Association 35, no. 4 (1969): 216-224.

6. Fung, Archon. “Varieties of Participation in Complex Governance.” (PDF) Public Administration Review 66, no. s1 (2006): 66-75.

7. Day, Diane. “Citizen Participation in the Planning Process: An Essentially Contested Concept?” Journal of Planning Literature 11, no. 3 (1997): 421.

8. Dietz, Thomas, Paul C. Stern, National Research Council (U.S.) Panel on Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making. Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making. Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2008.


9. Noveck, Beth Simone. Wiki Government: How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger, and Citizens More Powerful. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2009.

10. Collabforge, “Future Melbourne Wiki: Post Implementation Review” (On using a wiki to write a city plan), and see also Elliott, Dr Mark Alan (2007) Stigmergic Collaboration: A Theoretical Framework for Mass Collaboration. PhD thesis, Centre for Ideas, Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne.

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