The concept of ‘Open Government’ means to open the actions of governments and administrations at national and regional level to civil society and the economy.
Citizens can be directly involved at many levels of political action. In the best case, Open Government builds on the existing culture of political participation towards a culture of continuous cooperation between politicians, administration and civil society. Political participation remains almost exclusively limited to election dates.
But it is not just civil society who stands to gain from from easier access to political decisions and active participation; the public sector can also use citizens’ expertise and knowledge to find better solutions to problems and to spark new initiatives.
Advantages of Open Government:
- Increased accountability and avoidance of corruption through open, transparent and comprehensible government action
- Increased participation and legitimacy of political processes through openness and transparency
- Improved political decision-making through co-creation by civil society, politicians and public administrators
- Improved problem-solving capacity in public administration
- More efficient and innovative public administration structures
Status Quo in Germany
In an international comparison, Germany is neither a pioneer in terms of open government action, nor in terms of access to open administrative data or the use of digital technologies. Germany scored 69 out of 100 points in the Open Budget Index and only 51 out of 100 in the Open Data Index. The dissemination of digital technologies in public administration and access to the fast Internet could also be improved in an international comparison. In 2013, the German government signed the G8’s Open Data Charter and joined the Open Government Partnership in 2016, but the provision of data in open formats has still not prevailed in all ministries and state authorities. There are some positive examples in the federal and state governments, such as the model community project of the federal government or the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, but they tend to be the exception. There is also a clear need for action with regard to freedom of information in Germany: In the Global Right to Information Rating it scored only 54 out of a possible 150 points. In three federal states, for example, there is no legal basis for access to official information (IFG). In contrast to other countries, there is also no lobby register or a publicly accessible business register in Germany.