Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Dynamics of Opening Government Data

There is growing interest at all levels of government to increase access to and use of government data in support of good governance. To help them figure it out, governments are reaching out to academic researchers, industry, and citizens to develop innovative, cost effective ways to better serve the public. 

According to a white paper just released by the Center for Technology in Government entitled "The Dynamics of Opening Government Data", governments around the world are working to advance 'open government' principles and use 'open data'  in more effective ways to better serve the public over the coming decade.

One way governments are doing this is by developing the new policies and management practices that allow them to open their government data by taking advantage of the power of innovative information technologies (IT) coupled with efforts to foster increased public-private sector collaboration .

“If public leaders want to pursue opening government, particularly through the use of new technologies and information-driven activities, they need a good understanding of how the process works,” said Natalie Helbig, the lead author of the report.

The information policy perspective described in this white paper provides governments with a way to identify the various stakeholders and their patterns of interaction, and the flow and uses of public information resources.The white paper was produced by the Center for Technology in Government at the State University of New York (SUNY) in Albany.

This latest white paper, along with two other interesting papers produced by the Center for Technology in Government on the topic of 'open' government include "Delivering Public Value Through Open Government" and "Opening Government with Information", have a bearing on new and innovative ways governments can go about improving a wide range of government services in the U.S. and round the world – in collaboration with the private sector.

For more information about studies, reports, and papers produced by the center on 'Open Government', visit their web site at


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Our 'people' come first! They are our most important asset, resource, 'thing' ...

Many organizations make a point of saying their people come first. They then go on to clarify that statements by saying that people are their most important asset, their most valuable resource, ...  In fact, Personnel Departments are now generally referred to as Human Resource Departments. Does that sound like your company really thinks that people come first? Do you really think they've got your back – making sure you have healthcare coverage, a pension, training, …

I ran a quick search on the phrase "People are our most important…" and was shown a plethora of articles that make a mockery of that pious claim by most organizations, be they government agencies, private companies, or non-government organizations (NGO). For example. Check out these articles, and if this topic interests you, take the time to actually read them:

If organizations and their leaders really believe that their people come first, they need to do more than throw slogans around.  'People' really do know when you don't really mean what you say.  They know if you really think of them as an asset, a resource, just another 'thing', a cog in the machinery that can and will be easily replaced.  I think America can do better – a lot better.

If I had my druthers, I'd start by getting rid of the term Human Resource Department. What do you think?

Also, check out these following two videos. The second video, by Jack Welch, presents one of the better arguments I've heard supporting the claim that your people better come first if you want your business to succeed.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Citizens Needed to Track Major Corporate Crimes

There are millions of Americans who care about morality in the marketplace. A decade ago, Corporate Crime Reporter compiled a database and produced a report entitled "The Top 100 Corporate Criminals of the 1990s." They used the most narrow and conservative of definitions -- corporations that pled guilty or 'no contest' to crimes and were criminally fined. See

The top 100 corporate criminals fell into the following major categories of crime: Environmental, Antitrust, Fraud, Campaign Finance, Food & Drug, Financial Crimes, False Statements, Illegal Exports, Worker Death, Bribery, Obstruction of Justice, Public Corruption, and Tax Evasion. Corporate crime easily runs into hundreds of billion dollars, far outstripping street crime, e.g. robbery, burglary.

Big corporations that are criminally prosecuted represent only the tip of a very large iceberg of corporate wrongdoing.

  • For every company convicted of health care fraud, there are hundreds of others who get away with defrauding Medicare and Medicaid, or face only mild slap-on-the-wrist fines and civil penalties when caught.
  • For every company convicted of polluting the nation's waterways, there are many others who are not prosecuted because their corporate defense lawyers are able to offer up a low-level employee to go to jail in exchange for a promise from prosecutors not to touch the company or its high-level executives.
  • For every corporation convicted of bribery or of giving money directly to a public official in violation of federal law, there are thousands who give money legally through political action committees to candidates and political parties. They profit from a political system that effectively has legalized bribery.
  • For every corporation convicted of reckless homicide in the death of a worker, there are hundreds of others that don't even get investigated for reckless homicide when a worker is killed on the job.

The government just can't stay on top of corporate crime anymore. It's just gotten too big for any government office to handle. Citizens are just going to have to step up to the task and help tackle the problem of keeping an eye on major corporations and bringing their actions to light. If you want to know more about corporate crime and help collaborate in the fight against it, check out the following organizations, web sites, and online databases:

It's time to generate and publish an updated 'open' report on the "The Top 100 Corporate Criminals:  2000-2010."

Citizens need to get more involved!  Let's hold major corporations publically accountable for their criminal behavior and help build a better America.  We can do better!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Open Revolution #10 - Solutions

A Strategic Plan for the U.S. to Succeed in this 21st Century 'Information Age'

In this final blog of mine on the 'Open Revolution', my focus has shifted to 'solutions.'  What can we do in the U.S. to restore the American Dream and guide our country through this transition from the 'Industrial Age' of the 1900's into the 21st century 'Information Age' .  The first and most important task is to reach consensus on a national plan for the future, not a partisan political party platform.  

What we need is a clearly articulated vision of the future we want for the U.S., coupled with a strategy, goals, and the major objectives the country needs to be focused on for the next several decades.  One way to craft such a plan and gain consensus, not total agreement, is to collaborate and put together a draft and start the 'open' debate using social media tools and the Internet. This will ensure that the voice of the people will be heard – not just the voices of major corporations, the wealthy, or other special interest groups.

Once consensus starts to emerge around a plan that has been 'openly' debated, then our President and Congressional leaders can hopefully pull a final version together. That plan would lay out what we want to do as a country, then the political parties can put together their platforms on how they would propose go about making the plan a reality. Then the people can vote on which party they want in office and trust to implement the plan.

Political Party Platform  - An official statement of the beliefs, values, policy positions, and specific actions that a political party supports and proclaims in its attempt to appeal to the general public for the purpose of having its candidates voted into office.     See Party Platforms - 2012

So excuse the audacity, but here's a first rough draft of such a plan from one citizen to help start the debate and get people thinking, collaborating, talking openly about where we want to go as a country, and finding new, innovative ways of getting there.

The Vision
Our country must be committed to the long term, helping to create a better world to the next generation of Americans. We need to continually revitalize and redefine what we mean by the 'American Dream'. We must make sure the primary focus of our government is on our citizens and their interests and needs – not the interests of the rich, the powerful, or special interest groups. We must keep our country strong and strive to always try to do what is right – not what is expedient for the moment. Finally, we want the U.S. to be the place that people around the world want to move to in order to realize their dreams.

Principles & Values
We need to be committed to universal values like truth, integrity, liberty, and justice.  We need to emphasize values like a love of country, sense of duty, and a shared national purpose. We ought to be committed to the long term and the next generation of Americans – not increasing short term corporate profits in the next quarter. Finally, we need to reinforce our ongoing commitment to the Constitution and our Bill of Rights, i.e. freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly.

Major Goals
·     Fiscal soundness - Reduce debt; cut outdated or unnecessary programs; ensure our taxes are sufficient to pay for all approved programs; balance the budget.
·     National Security – Protect against Internal and/or External threats to our country.
·     Energy Independence – Free of dependence on oil from other countries; expand support for alternative energy sources, e.g. wind, water, solar, nuclear, clean coal, gas, oil.
·     Commerce & Jobs – Put in place and implement policies to strengthen commerce, job creation, and oversight of key industries to protect our people and the economy.
·     Strive to retain our position as a respected global leader on the world stage.

"The goal for America is to remain a great country. This means that while reducing our deficits, we must also invest in education, infrastructure, research & development, as well as open our society more widely to talented immigrants and fix the regulations that govern our economy."  -  Friedman & Mandelbaum, "That Used to Be Us"

There are many other high priority goals and objectives that must also be addressed such as reducing the influence of corporations and their lobbyists on our political process, i.e. overturn the 'Citizens United' decision.  We must continually strive to improve our education system, healthcare, and our infrastructure, e.g. highways, broadband networks, bridges. Immigration reform is a key issue that must be addressed. Global warming and environmental stewardship is a must. What else? Let's decide as a nation and set clear cut goals. Then we can elect the political party that we believe will be most effective in accomplishing these goals.

For centuries, our future has been left in the hands of political and business leaders, the rich and powerful, and special interest groups. The missing chair at the table where these decisions have been made has been "We the People."  Changes need to be made in this process as we move deeper into this 21st  century "Information Age".

Technology advancements and new tools (e.g. Internet, Social Media) are now available that can and should be used to ensure the government and our leaders are more responsive to the needs of our citizens and the nation as a whole. We must see more collaboration, cooperation, and compromise if we are to succeed and maintain a leadership position on the global stage.

Collaboration, information technology (IT), continuous innovation, and the growing 'Open' Movement  (e.g. open standards, open data, open access, open source) are all key to successfully adapting and competing in the emerging 21st century 'Information Age' and global economy.

Collaboration + Open Solutions = Innovation

In the end, the American Dream is not about meeting the needs of corporations, the wealthy, the powerful, or special interests…  it ought to be about "We the People."

Do you think we ought to have a Strategic Plan for the U.S.? Or do we just simply continue to wing it?

What would you add to this draft Strategic Plan so that we can keep the  'American Dream' alive and ensure the U.S. retains its position as a global leader well into the 21st century?

How do we ensure that "We the People" have a seat at the table so that our voices are heard as the national plan is crafted? Nor just those of the rich, powerful, & special interest groups?

* For more information, visit  America's Future: 2020 - 2050

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Transitioning into a 21st Century Economy - How long will it take?

Just a quick note and observation about the global economic revolution that is underway.

EDS put out a great video a few years back illustrating that replacing an existing IT system used in day-to-day business operations by an enterprise is like rebuilding an airplane while it is in-flight.  Take a look at this 'Airplane' video that is posted on YouTube.

After watching the video, think about how much more complicated it is replacing a country's economy as we continue the process of transitioning from the Industrial Age to the Information Age.  Thousands of companies and whole industries are being replaced on the fly.

This is not a simple set of  problems and issues that are being addressed. Expecting a 'quick fix' from any politician or political party is ridiculous. We're all in this together and it's going to take a lot of time, effort, and resources to complete the transition into a 21st century Information Age economy.

How long do you think it will take the U.S. to complete the transition? 1 year? 5 years? More than 10 years?