- Meghan Cook, Program Manager, Center for Technology in Government, SUNY Albany
Video (starts at 31:20)
Open Government has traditionally been defined in terms of transparency, participation, and collaboration, however the real value of Open Government is in the public value that these principles generate. The Center for Technology in Government at the University at Albany has developed a practical decision support tool, known as the Public Value Assessment Tool (PVAT), to help decision makers in government agencies in planning and implementing open government. Thus far, the tool has been downloaded over 350 times, by agencies and organizations in and outside the US. The tool has also been adopted by one large US Government agency for developing its open government plan for submission to the White House.
We report on the results of the PVAT in use. In terms of acceptance by users, the test of the tool was successful. We discuss some challenges associated with implementation, including difficulty in maintaining uniform engagement in the process and time constraints, which prevented the agency team from fully exploiting all the components of the tool. The conceptual problems identified by scholars and analysts in defining and elaborating public value were also reflected in the struggles of the tool users. However, the overall heuristic framework and exercises employed in the tool were found to be very valuable in clarifying participants' own thinking and facilitating group decision making. We also discuss how the framework in practice highlighted the need for additional research on public value theory and application.