Government 3.0 must continueA hundred days have passed since President Park Geun-hye proclaimed her “Government 3.0 vision.” Fundamentally changing the paradigm of government was the first step to opening an “era of happiness and hope for the people,” Park vowed. While people may have different ideas about what constitutes fundamental changes, nothing is more important than creating a transparent government that puts people at the center and communicates with people. Unless the hierarchal relationship between government and the people is normalized, all other government innovations will be meaningless. We need to keep in mind that U.S. President Barack Obama’s first executive order in 2008 was a transparent release of government information to citizens.
The individuals in the era of smartphones and social network services are no longer passive consumers. They are prosumers who actively share their opinions and make direct contributions to the development of goods and services. They are curious about what the government is trying to do and how. They are demanding necessary information. Citizens consider these demands as their innate rights based on their experiences in daily life. Adjusting to this changed environment and making the relationship between the government and citizens transparent are steps toward opening a new era of hope.
Gradually, signs of Government 3.0 have begun to surface. Central and local governments have established detailed action plans for Government 3.0, and systematic efforts have been made to close the gap between the government and the people by revising and enacting the Act of Public Data and the Act on Information Disclosure.
According to the Ministry of Employment and Labor, information about business owners who were late paying employees had not been disclosed in the past; but, now the name, age, address and the amount of overdue wages of business owners confirmed to have more than 30 million won ($27,920) in back pay are to be made public in order to prevent more workers from falling victim.
Also, more government data has been disclosed for people’s convenience. For example, the disclosure of meteorological data has helped industries that use climate and weather information, such as agriculture, fisheries, distribution and energy management companies. Korea District Heating Corporation used the meteorological data to predict heating demands and boosted annual earnings by 3 billion won. CU, formerly Bogwang Family Mart, has modified its distribution network and has enjoyed a 33 percent increase in sales.
A few urgent tasks should be addressed in order to make the current changes lead to substantial outcomes. Government agencies need to raise awareness on information disclosure. In the last two months, 49 agencies released 1,092 items of information, but prior information disclosure is still insufficient. We need to pay special attention to information disclosure closely related to the lives of the people. There must be clear guidelines prior to information disclosure. The government should consider disclosing all information except for classified information and offer information that citizens need in advance to enhance the quality of information disclosure. Moreover, a system reorganization is urgently needed to maximize the impact of data release. Most of the data that the government has is stored in internal databases and with too high rates of error to be used in the civilian sector right away. Also, 33 related laws, including the Weather Industry Promotion Act, the Statistics Act, the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act and the Copyright Act, should be revised to restrict the release and use of information, prohibiting the use of information for other than stated purposes and restricting free utilization.
The new era should be a world where the walls of distrust between the government and the people come down and the two communicate freely. The government disclosures we are experiencing right now should not be a one-time event, but a fundamental change to our lifestyle. Innovation should break conventions, and we cannot let the government carry out the task on its own. True changes can only be implemented when people and the government work together, using creative and innovative ideas.
Translation by the Korea JoongAng Daily staff.
*The author is a professor of public administration at Soongsil University.
by Oh Chul-ho