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Govt transparency workshop to be held in January at Princeton

The Princeton Center for Information Technology Policy (CITP) will host a 2-day workshop Open Government: Defining, Designing, and Sustaining Transparency at Princeton U, Jan 21-22, 2010. Along with a wide-ranging discussion on transparency, there will be a session on friday on the proposed law.gov registry and repository. I hope lots of people in the Princeton area will attend (FYI, there will be a law.gov symposium at Stanford on January 12, 2010. More to come).

Day 1: Thursday January 21 (9am – 5pm)

Defining Transparency:
This session will aim to take a critical look at what government transparency means. Some of the questions the panel will consider are: What do people mean when they use these terms? Are open government and government transparency a means or an end? What are the boundaries and tensions involved with different conceptions? What is the history of the use of these concepts and what are various flavors of transparency?

Designing Transparency:
This session seeks to take a deep look into architecting systems such that they support open government and transparency. Some fo the questions the panel will consider include: How do we design systems, infrastructures and processes to support transparency? Is transparency a value like security, privacy and usability that must be designed into systems from the beginning? If so, how do we include transparency into policy and technical processes? Are there still effective ways to make existing systems more transparent without ineffectively “bolting on” transparency support after policies and systems are fielded?

Sustaining Transparency:
We’d like to think that open government and transparency are not “fads” or “trends” that could disappear. It seems that now is the time to think deeply about how open government and transparency can sustain. Can we measure how open or transparent government is, such that we would notice any adverse downturns? How do we ensure that transparency is a value that outlasts changes in political winds? In addition to making data available on an ongoing basis, what are strategies for sustainable transparency? How do we educate the public to recognize the value of open government and demand transparency of governmental systems? How much of this can we control and what strategies can we conceptualize that will result in obvious public interest value to bolster open government?

Breakfast (8:30am – 9am)

Day 2: Friday January 22 (9am – 12:30pm)

Law.gov Session:
Access to primary legal materials in the United States is the subject of this session. We’ll discuss current provision of these materials by the Federal and State governments through government systems (such as the GPO’s FDSys and the Judiciary’s PACER system), through commercial providers such as Lexis and West, and various alternatives that have sprung up in both the private sector and from nongovernmental organizations such as Public.Resource, Altlaw, and the RECAP project. In addition to examining the current situation for access to materials, this session will include discussion of the Law.Gov effort, a year-long effort to document detailed specifications that would enable the Federal and then state and local governments to provide a distributed, open source, authenticated registry and repository for primary legal materials. Similar in spirit to the Data.Gov system recently launched, the Law.Gov effort includes a series of workshops at ten major law schools in early 2010.

Engaging Tinkerers:
The availability of data sources and access to government agencies are only a first step in projects involving open government and governmental transparency. The next step is matching the supply of such projects with demand for working on such projects. Tinkerers–those that would create systems that use data from and increased access to government systems–and governmental suppliers need to coordinate in some fashion to best realize project-based open government efforts. What are mechanisms that might match governmental supply of data and access to these tinkerers in an efficient manner? Would a mini-CFP system work, where tinkerers would be on a distribution list that governmental actors could post opportunities for project-based open government work and then decide which projects to work with? Are there legal barriers to such organization? Does it even make sense to “launch” such data sets and access opportunities with projects that benefited from exclusive access before a public launch?

[Originally tweeted by rschon. Thanks for the tip!]

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