recommended reading

Technology is no longer open data’s biggest challenge


Managers -- not technology or budget -- now may be the biggest obstacles to government data transparency.

Information technology bosses and government administrators are reluctant to invest time and staff in projects in which they feel they hold little stake, according to participants at the 2012 International Open Data conference.

When it’s not clear who is responsible for an open data initiative -- or who will get credit for its success -- managers lack incentive to pursue the change, said Shauneen Furlong, a Canadian consultant and a panelist at the conference. She listed risk factors facing open data initiatives, including skewed reward mechanisms for managers and a lack of motivation and accountability.

Managers also may be wary of revealing dirty laundry or exposing their offices to undue attention. In developing countries especially, data transparency projects have come under scrutiny from politicians wary of the public impact of open information on their governments. Even the World Bank, the host of this week’s conference, faced questions when it opened up its data sets under the leadership of former president Robert Zoellick. Many of the economists and academics involved with the bank’s research did not acquiesce easily to releasing their data to the public.

While the technology factor in open data remains an issue, it is becoming significantly less of a problem. The costs of everything from the actual technology, connectivity and operations are falling. The engineering know-how to set up scaled systems to handle thousands of pieces of information exists and is becoming increasingly accessible. In many instances, the production of the system has become the easy part of an open data project.

Still, government administrators often pass on these projects because they do not see how they will affect their agencies. Furlong suggested introducing incentives -- including linking projects’ success to pay, as was done in Canada -- to provide the motivation for managers to pursue open data and e-government policies.

For now, open data implementation is weaker than it should be, panelists argued, which is detrimental for citizens and stakeholders seeking to increase the speed of delivery for government services.  

(Image via mkabakov/

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.