Open Government

with Aneesh Chopra

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The impact of open government are broad and far-reaching

Aneesh Chopra

Assistant to the President and Chief Technology Officer, Author, Entrepreneur

Lessons Learned

There is a hunger in governments all over the world to participate in open government.

Data suggests we should be doubling down on a startup driven economy.

We have to plant the seeds so that more people can become entrepreneurs and be wildly successful.


Lesson: Open Government with Aneesh Choprah

Step #10 Leapfrog: The impact of open government are broad and far-reaching

What's exciting about the open that a movement is the president had convened a bunch of presidents from other heads of state on the sidelines of the United Nation’s meeting in 2010. We saw a diverse coalition of countries from Africa, Asia, South America, Europe and what we found was a hunger across this diverse coalition to say, not only do we want to match the president’s commitment to open data, we’re going to leapfrog.

We saw story after story of countries without the infrastructure. I visited a village in India with no indoor plumbing, with no traditional forms of infrastructure. Yet 90 days before the president was to visit that beautiful country, a small village was given access to high-speed broadband fiber and over the course of 90 days between my visit and when the president interacted with those villagers, we saw a farmer able to get low-cost interest loans because he was able to draw from his online portal a certified copy of his land record. Something he couldn't have done with all the friction in the system.

Just a year earlier, we saw a young man, who had the tough choice of caring grandma or going to his graduate school, being able to do both: taking classes from the village while caring for grandma.

We saw a nurse who became much more productive in finding out which kids had not been immunized because she had data at her fingertips to know exactly what was happening in the village.

All happening in 90 days and the president’s remark was, “Wow, you’re leapfrogging.”

You see the UK Prime Minister Cameron giving a major policy address, convening heads of state from all over the world saying that this is now the default for how governments should operate and that spirit is moving many countries and stakeholders to say hey there is more to this.

So yes, I'm proud that United States has taken a lead role, and I'm proud that President Obama made this a priority, but I'm excited of the future because this is something where lots of voices of are coming forward and making an impact.

This is a new form of economic policy, which is to say that startups, which tend to not to have lobbyists because there are so busy building their products, that their voice is often unheard and their stories is often untold.

So early in the president's first term, we heard loud and clear that this data suggests we should be doubling down on a startup-focused economic growth strategy. And what did we do? Well, first and foremost, we launched the Startup American Partnership. It reminds us that the country is often at its best when you do a call to action. The President asked companies to work with startups. Instantly, big companies of all stripes said, “Yeah, we’ll buy from startups. Okay, we’ll sign up for this initiative. Let’s go get to know startups.”

But then we backed it up with policy changes. We recognized that startups need capital to fuel themselves and grow, but getting capital is hard. So a bipartisan public-private collaborative and came together to say, “Look, let’s re-imagine regulations in the 21st century economy as it relates to raising capital for startups, and out was born Jobs Act; what The Washington Post called the most successful new idea for small businesses in the year 2012 and that was a term "crowdfunding" but beyond crowdfunding a whole range of policies are now available, so that entrepreneurs can get the capital they need to be successful.

There’s now a default setting in Washington that entrepreneurship matters, it’s the key long-term economic growth, and we get a plant the seeds, write the rules, and open the interfaces so more and more people can become entrepreneurs and have the training and the support that they need to be wildly successful and it's not a done deal, but we’re certainly moving in that direction.

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