Let all the data open so people can judge.

I have been working in private environment for about 4 years. I worked as a management consultant and our measure of success is clear, how many working hours that we can convert into dollars. The more money we can provide through the same amount of time, then our performance is better than the others. Client satisfaction, in-depth analysis, and nice report is the next measure.

I remembered exactly when the company’s performance is declining, i.e. the money coming is not equal to the hours of working, then our boss will ask one by one what is on our plate at the moment and put it on the wall where everyone can see who’s doing what. I am certain that my boss has his own intention to put it on the wall instead of looking at it alone in his room. The performance is not increasing dramatically, but at least the every individual at my office starts calling clients and ask whether they have some projects incoming.

I did not realize that the same principle can be applied into something bigger, until I read about what the Governor of Jakarta, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, promoted transparancy in the Province level through putting the Province Annual budget on the website and any other media so people can see and provide input. Some says that the province’s income has raised significantly, mostly from tax, and the most important intangible benefit is that the increasing public trust. Why? the answer is simple: because there’s nothing to hide when everything is transparent. A research from McKinsey said that the opening government data can unlock about 3 trillion dollar value annually across sector.

Comparing the two different environment, the openness principle might work best in a larger social scene. Why? At the office, when the productivity chart is shown to the employees, it creates a sense of competition or shame because of not being productive. But what if the people are being passive, permissive, and basically, all employees are at the same side: they have their common enemy: their boss who post the chart. If there is no aggressive player, then there is no competition, thus, the performance will not change.

In the larger environment, there are different stakeholders. Let say a governor put a budget realization data on official website. Obviously, the main audience is people who should be benefited from the budget realization, not the workers. Then the people can play the role as critics, or at least some public group can invest their time to go through the data and ask for clarity. Then the governor will receive their feedback, check it internally, and push the officials to work better. The dynamics happening among public and government officials is adopting governance principle where there should be executors, watchdog, and policy makers..

So, the economic value of Open Government will truly creating some value if the dynamic between stakeholders are rolling. A mere ‘openness’ will not create value, and even create frustration and mistrust when the interaction and reward is not following.


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