Providing online access to government systems is of course the foundation component of Digital Government, but this only addresses the transactional aspects of government and fails to exploit the fundamental characteristic and benefit of today’s web technology: The ability to implement and build communities that harness the power of ‘Collective Intelligence‘.
MIT published a paper ‘Harnessing Crowds: Mapping the Genome of Collective Intelligence‘ (20-page PDF) that distills the key mechanics of this science, and NESTA recently published a paper that applies the science to government – Governing with Collective Intelligence.
The business community defines it as the ‘Platform Business Model’, exemplified through ventures like Uber Taxis and Aribnb, with the primary characteristic being the implementation of Digital Ecosystems, dynamic supplier communities meshed together through social and mobile applications.
Open Government Transformation – Grantmaking and Reporting
An insightful example is the Peer to Patent portal, which applies the effect to the USPTO’s patent application process, a workflow that requires important decisions on a huge variety of scientific and technical topics, that must reference a history of equally academic prior decisions.
It illustrates how Open Government is not just about more open reporting for people to passively look at, it’s actually about re-engineering the process itself, to deliver considerable efficiency improvements and critically, enable more open public participation.
Pioneered by Open Government leader Beth Noveck, the project is documented via a detailed case study in this 40 page Harvard white paper. Beth describes how the agency was building up a huge backlog of patent applications due to a ‘closed’ approach where only staff from the USPTO could review, contribute and decide upon applications.
Not only did this cause a bottleneck due to the number of resources being utilised but also in terms of the volume and quality of subject matter expertise being applied. With no involvement from outside contributors, such as experts from the scientific community, then awards were being granted for applications based on very limited and often inaccurate knowledge.
In this article Beth applies the approach to grant applications, explaining why Open Grantmaking is a key innovation for this type of program, those that better connect the ‘Third Sector’ et al with the social needs of the nation, using the best technology & practice models.
Open Government for Scotland
Organizations such as the OpenGov network are seeking to identify how these principles might be applied in Scotland, and this grant making scenario is a great starting point. There are numerous Third Sector providers of grants, all of whom use “traditional” application processes and could be transformed this way, to enjoy these benefits and maximize their social impact.
Do you have an idea for how government could be done differently in Scotland? If so, we need your help to make our democracy work better for its people! Visit https://t.co/bWd8zGjbmp #OGP #Democracy #Scotland #OpenGovScot pic.twitter.com/Y9GL3nyoRT
— Scotland's OpenGov Network (@opengovscot) May 29, 2018