Why Public Sector Agencies (Sometimes) Support Participatory Democracy Programs

December 06, 2016 by Alon Peled

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Open Data (OD) programs have become popular. OD proponents argue that OD programs are necessary to reinvigorate participatory democracy and active citizenship. However, the debate between proponents and critics of these programs relies on anecdotal data. The paper describes a methodological innovation (dubbed “The Public Sector Information Exchange (PSIE)”) to automatically capture, process, store, and analyze metadata information about the Open Data (OD) information assets published by government agencies at any level of government (e.g., federal, national, regional, municipal) worldwide. The analysis of the initial PSIE data (currently only about some datasets published by U.S. federal agencies) supports the argument that OD programs have become the playground of a small number of agencies and that many OD information assets are either incomprehensible or impossible to find. The concluding section of the paper discusses how to incentivize agencies to improve cooperation with OD programs.