|Type of paper:
|Policy Politics Government Public relations
Empirical studies have shown that the concept of openness is at the core of a sound and robust governance as far as the 21st-century democracy prevails. The OECD asserts that open government is the openness of the administrative activities/procedures and how accessible government services, and data is as well as the government response to current issues, needs, and demands. These three critical features support various advantages for societies and governments because they enhance the evidence base for policymaking, discouraging graft, strengthening integrity, and establishing citizen trust in the government (Dunleavy et al., 2005). The implementation of open governance in England aimed at changing the pattern of governance towards restoring public confidence. Open government is the best tool for establishing public trust because it fosters direct participation by citizens and other stakeholders.
Open government concept dates back in the Athenian democratic era during which citizens and the society at large accessed and controlled the public funds, goods, and information. These activities centered around public figures such as generals and servants. The people performed the role of electing or choosing their auditors and financial controllers in the judiciary and the treasury to ensure accountability (Gravelin et al., 2009). This system was completely different from the majority of the era's governments, which depicted abuse of authority, corrupt, lack of accountability, transparency as the then leaders used their positions and influence to enrich themselves. As time goes by, the concept of open government had become a global phenomenon through which the governments thrive on access to information laws, autonomous oversight and enforcement systems namely the Supreme Audit Institution as well as information control which compels the public authority to adhere to transparency and accessibility (Dunleavy et al., 2005). In England, this concept has enabled public services to offer the needs of a common citizen via consultations and participation of citizens and relevant stakeholders.
England embraced open governance in1215 through the signing of the Magna Carta, which paved the way for the first regulations for accountability. This carta compelled King John to embrace the basic regulations, which demanded the increasing of taxes without informing the rich. Initially, the king had to inform them in advance due to their practical roles of tax collection and the source of the military labor force (Mickoleit, 2015). At this point, one could say that citizens had an indirect impact on government affairs through the wealthy who consulted with the government.
The era of the European enlightenment (17th-18th Centuries) embodied reformation and revolution courtesy of the collaborative efforts by Locke and Jeremy of England Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Voltaire from France and America's Thomas Jefferson. These leaders led to the transformation from the arbitrary, and autocratic systems of administration (Mergel, 2013). This episode led to the creation of a new government structure that allowed respect for natural rights, and the applicability of the democratic authorities.
Definition and Significance of Open Government
In the last three decades, open government has become the alternative approach for freedom of information and the accessibility to information. The Open Government Principle defines open government as the right to understand and dwell under the constitution. Besides, Joseph W. Thomas (1974-75) perceives that open government as the strategy of being open to public scrutiny the decision processes of the national government, Open Government Partnership (OGP, 2013). Some administrators describe the open government as a tool through which journalists, civil society, and citizens fight corrupt individuals and underground organizations. To others, open government is the framework through which information flows between citizens and government, the type of exchange, and decision-making activity that allows citizens to understand the happenings in the government.
Nevertheless, the current meaning of open government is that it embraces all issues regarding accessibility, transparency, and responsiveness by the government system that allows free movement of information among all the societal sectors. This type of system requires that the public sector makes information sharing a mandatory act and culture (Dunleavy et al., 2005). This episode would also call for the devotion of public resources, training, and management procedures towards effective dissemination of knowledge and services. Either the decision-makers need to respond to citizens' needs, priorities, and ideas as well as to the external entities, thereby providing quality and accessible paths for voicing the same.
The Flow of Information
The right to know or access information prevails as the most explored field. According to experts, the most significant step of open government and ability by citizens to scrutinize, contribute to decision-making and question those in authority is the legislation to obtain accessibility to information. As a result, access to information has become a human right as outlined in the Human Rights' universal declaration and the region-based human rights structures (Mickoleit, 2015). These include the U.S Human Rights Convention, the African Charter on human liberties, and the European Convention on human freedom (Mergel, 2013). The laws that allow easy access to information, there are many other institutions and policies which contribute to more openness, accountability, and accessibility. In this regard, the whistleblower protection frameworks, the Supreme Audit Institutions, public interest disclosure acts, Ombudsman Information Commissioner Offices, and rights to observe public meetings. Furthermore, there has been another global movement that has been pushing for openness in government in that citizen views shape policies and laws of the day (Mergel, 2013). This initiative has emerged courtesy of the effort from the civil society and citizens, which aim at influencing public decisions and, as a politician, also work towards regaining public trust in their leadership.
Open Government versus E-Government
The United Nations, International scale organization like the OCD, the World Bank as well as the Open Government Partnership have helped to develop and align most of the developed countries to implement open government concept (Pradhan, 2009). The European nations have employed another concept dubbed e-government, which aims at empowering citizens and organizations through supporting the evolution of e-Government into the new type of open government, which depicts flexibility, and collaboration and serves across all levels of the public hierarchy and political jurisdictions.
This concept also considers the fact that collaborative and social networking tools empowers the users to actively design and produce public services hence the need to embrace an open structure, production, and offering of online services in the realm of the collaboration between citizen, civil society and the business community (Dunleavy et al., 2005). In this setting, the integration of new technologies, innovative architectures, open specifications, and the availability of the public sector data could help to avail of greater value to citizens with limited resources.
The distinction between open government and e-Government base on the incorporation between historical democratic activities supported via the new technologies in the local and central administrative units. Here, the elements of collaboration, transparency, and participation prevail as the major roles of democracy, thus integrating them in the private sector could impact both administrative action and decision-making. Bearing in mind that e-government thrives the web-based activities which come from the federal, local, and state agencies, this system uses IT and internet to strengthen government activities, thus improving service delivery (Mergel, 2013). According to research, e-Government enhances interaction through data accessibility, filings, making payments, and many other web-based activities.
Strategies of Building Citizen Trust
Political activities are focusing more on their democratic bedrocks due to the fact that the majority of the citizens especially have no trust in their governments. For instance, the majority of the U.K citizens believe that a group of elites who forms a minority of the global society who have no link with public reality is benefiting more from governments as they suffer. This situation has compelled the U.K monarchy to restructure its operations by employing interconnected strategies to restore citizen trust for better implementation of the open-ended government structure (OGP, 2013). These strategies comprise of six elements which could help to redefine civic engagement beyond voting. As a result, it helps to empower citizens towards active participation in policy-making and service delivery because they would become the core of the government.
Giving Citizens the Required Information
The most critical element of restoring citizen trust is thriving in transparency. Here, the monarchy is working tirelessly to avail quality and genuine information, which could guide citizens in controlling relevant sections of the government (Pradhan, 2009). This government would facilitate this objective by providing healthcare data for citizen viewing, thus assisting them to control healthcare priorities, track the costs, and compare and contrasting healthcare providers as they also examine treatment waits online. The government transparency portal would proactively publish public expenditure for easy tracking of government or taxpayer's money.
Enhancing Citizen Voice in Policymaking
The government is also working towards positioning citizens at the core of the government to influence legislation and policies in prioritized areas. For instance, the monarchy could encourage citizen-crowded priority vote in which they endorse major policy proposals which could lead to reforms on various political and administrative issues and policies.
Mobilizing Marginalized Citizens
The patterns of minorities experiencing hostilities, oppression, and exclusion have gained momentum in the U.K and across the world. The act of involving these groups in civil dialogues and policy preferences could help to restore trust (Pradhan, 2009). This objective could materialize through employing public feedback from low-income citizens and communities of color on their equity evaluation tool to help establish the general equity standards that connect to the local budgets.
Orienting Citizens to Follow the Money
The U.K government is also targeting to empower citizens to follow up with government expenditure and provide feedback on its misuse with the aim of restoring public trust. In this setting, citizens would feel that the government is wise in dealing with public resources. For example, the government has plans to establish a budget monitoring framework which integrates with the audit department and civil society in visualizing online government spending, provide corruption-based cases, and find government agencies that need auditing (Mergel, 2013). This platform could also allow citizens to monitor the primary graft scandals from illegal contracts, especially when the government discloses all the information on public procurement contracts.
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