President Obama’s historic commitment to open government has inspired people across the country with a renewed belief that government can and should be transparent, participatory and collaborative. In Seattle, WA, the City Council has formed an Open Government Committee to explore and recommend ways to improve citizens’ access to public documents and seek more diverse community input on issues affecting the city in advance of legislative action. In Owensboro, KY, citizens have signed an Open Government Pledge and asked local government leaders to adopt a set of principles committing to more transparent and participatory practices.
As President Obama develops and implements his Open Government Directive, he should support local governments in doing the same by offering guidance for the steps that cities, towns and counties can take to become more transparent, participatory and collaborative. The President should convene mayors, city administrators, city council members, county executives and county commissioners who have distinguished themselves for their commitment to open government principles. This Local Open Government Commission would pursue the following objectives:
1. Develop a set of Open Government Principles that may be adopted by local governments
2. Develop a set of Open Government Best Practices in the areas of Transparency, Participation, and Collaboration
3. Develop an Open Government Seal of Approval that may be awarded to those local governments that demonstrate a commitment to open government principles by adopting the best practices described above
4. Create a program to recognize local leaders for excellence in open government