While the three components of the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government are intertwined, it seems that there are specific constituencies that are better suited to take the lead in helping to implement positive change in each of these areas. The federal government can model the transparency and collaboration principles by testing and implementing new technologies, sharing best practices, and setting higher standards for all offices and agencies. This information can flow downward to state and local governments for implementation.
In the area of participation, we need to look to the grassroots – to those who are already engaged in our democracy. We need to understand what individuals and organizations are already doing to help safeguard our democracy. Are these replicable? What can be done to engage others? How do we foster and support civic engagement? How do make active and informed participation in government a priority to busy families?
Monitoring & Convening Component
Trusted community organizations, such as the League of Women Voters, have been on the “frontlines” acting as government watchdogs for decades by monitoring government meetings, performing FOIA audits, and convening town hall meetings on “hot topics.” What can be learned from this group and others like it?
Citizens feel most attached to their local government. This is the level of government that they relate to on a daily basis; from school funding to zoning issues, local government impacts our lives. It only seems logical that any efforts to bolster citizen participation would start with this level of government.