Advocates of open government tend to believe that unlocking data is a key to better citizen engagement, service delivery and transparency. However, according to new research from Pew, truly opening government still remains a ways off, and often, citizens are interacting with the first iterations of online services that are dated and clunky.
The report is the first national survey benchmarking public sentiment about data driven government initiatives and was conducted by the Pew Research Center in association with the Knight Foundation.
According to the findings, “most Americans are still largely engaged in “e-Gov 1.0” online activities, with far fewer attuned to “Data-Gov 2.0” initiatives that involve agencies sharing data online for public use.”
Yet, individuals are still trying to find information by variety of means. 65% of Americans have used the internet in the last year to find government data. Just 5% say that the federal, state, and local governments are sharing data effectively.
Data shows that individuals are looking for government data on a variety of issues including healthcare, teacher performance, and government spending/contracting.
The report notes that few Americans have high hopes for government initiatives. People see the potential for data driven governments to improve service delivery and other aspects of their interaction with the public, but few can readily point to current examples.
Predictably, these views break along partisan lines with self-identified Republicans having the least trust in government and self-identified Democrats having more trust in government. The partisan breakdown carries over into how they view efficacy of open government and future expansion of open government efforts.
A majority of respondents were ok with government sharing specific types of data online like crime statistics, public health data, restaurant ratings or teacher performance. But, when it comes to showing individual mortgage data online only 22% were comfortable with having that information made public.
The report breaks individuals into cohort groups based on their comfort level with accessing information online as well as their support for open government initiatives. The report itself is lengthy, but data rich and provides a valuable analysis of what the public is looking for in a modernized government.
The full report is available here.
Image Source: Pew Research Center