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Five Open Government Trends

Open government used to be a relatively simple concept. It was about meetings and documents. They either were open to the public or they weren’t. With the growth of the federal government and the explosion of new data sources, from emails passed between agency officials to thousands of satellite and sensor feeds, things have grown more complicated.

The basic question of whether a document is available to the public is just the beginning of the transparency conversation. Open government advocates want to know whether the document is online, whether it’s in a reasonable place, and whether it’s in a machine-readable format such as XML or a proprietary form such as PDF.

Some agencies are proactive about disclosure, releasing machine-updated data sets that citizens and organizations can stream directly onto their own websites, as well as keeping public catalogs of material they’ve released under the Freedom of Information Act. Others are slower to adapt.

Here are five trends in open government:

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