OpenGovernment.org is PPF’s open-source version of OpenCongress for government at any level, initially launched in 2011, to increase civic engagement and government transparency.
Problems and Purpose
OpenGovernment was designed to bring the OpenCongress model of transparency down to state and local governments. It was developed in response to a trend toward lower trust in government institutions like the U.S. Congress, low voter turnout, and lack of compliance with the Principles of Open Government Data by US state governments. Out of the 49 bicameral state legislatures in the U.S. and one unicameral body (Nebraska), only one single chamber—one entity out of 99, namely the New York State Senate—makes its legislative data available in ways that sufficiently comply with the community-generated Eight Principles of Open Government Data. Every other chamber of state government was thought to be closed-off from its constituents, refusing to release public data (legislative actions, votes, bill analysis—not to mention campaign contributions) online in ways that are truly open, despite the readily available technical means to do so. The ultimate mission of OpenGovernment was to ensure that all three branches (executive, legislative, and judicial) at every level of government (federal, state, city, local, and more) comply with the Principles of Open Government Data, to increase trust in the political process.
Further, PPF perceived the status quo for state-level government websites to be a mishmash of non-standards-based, poorly-designed websites that don't do nearly enough to keep the public at large informed. They're simply unacceptably user-unfriendly, so they aimed to introduce open-source software, open standards, flexible copyright licensing, and easily-findable technical best practices make it possible for any branch of state government to comply with the Eight Principles in a relatively short period of time.
Origins and Development
The site is a non-partisan joint project of two 501(c)3 non-profit organizations, the Participatory Politics Foundation and the Sunlight Foundation. OpenGovernment is independent from any government entity, candidate for office, or political party. It was based on the model of PPF's OpenCongress, which was conceived in 2004 to address a lack of accessible information online about bills, votes, and issues in the U.S. Congress. The official website of Congress, THOMAS, published raw data about legislation, but not in ways that are compliant with the community-generated Principles of Open Government Data, not in sufficiently timely ways, and not on webpages that were proven to be user-friendly. The platform was acquired by Sunlight Foundation in 2014 but has since returned to the PPF .
Ever since OpenCongress was developed, PPF foresaw that this model of aggregating disparate data sources into a user-friendly web interface could be productively applied to other entities: state legislatures, city councils, neighbourhood associations, international institutions, governorships, secretaries of state, supreme courts, circuit judges, public-mission institutions such as schools & hospitals, foreign countries with more-or-less democratic systems of governance, and more.
How It Works
PPF aims to establish a data standard and collect machine-readable data streams for all 50 U.S. State Legislatures. These data streams will provide official government info to GovKit, the open-source application that combines it with other publicly-available data sources and social wisdom from around the open Web. GovKit, in turn, will power the OpenGovernment website: essentially, free and non-partisan versions of OpenCongress for all fifty state legislatures and a dozen major cities, with even more local versions planned.
"OpenGovernment can work to combine the following:
- official government data in federal, state and city government
- with campaign donations and intelligible top-line analysis
- issue group ratings,
- social media conversations,
- public meeting schedules,
- and open-data contact tools." 
Analysis and Lessons Learned
 Participatory Politics Foundation. Projects. http://www.participatorypolitics.org/projects/
This entry was originally submitted as an organization and was converted to a tool to meet Participedia's definitional standards.