US, Canada, and Mexico Collaborate to Improve Open Government and Digital Services
Many forces are converging to strengthen the political, economic and commercial ties that bind the United States, Canada and Mexico. The GSA Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT) has anticipated this drive toward collaboration for decades, building a network of links among the three nations’ Chief Information Officers and other national technology and data experts.
Annual OCSIT-sponsored North American Day (NAD) talks have contributed to improved digital services in all three countries. Tri-lateral exchanges have intensified in recent years, as the speed of innovation and the value of collaboration have become more evident. For example:
- Data.gc.ca, the Canadian web portal based on Data.gov, makes that country’s datasets available to government and industry for analysis and applications development by anyone;
- Inspired by Data.gc.ca’s experience with CKAN software and GitHub, OCSIT revised Data.gov to make the website open source and widely accessible;
- Following the lead of the UK Government Digital Service, U.S. Presidential Innovation Fellows, 18F and U.S. Digital Services teams, Mexico has created “Data Squads” to bring in private-sector technology skills and entrepreneurial energy to solve public-sector problems;
- And the U.S. government’s Connect.gov, which enables easy access to digital government services and applications, benefits from learning about Canada’s pioneering experience with 3rd-party credentials.
During the 2015 NAD talks in Mexico City on January 29-30, US-Mexico-Canada collaboration gained further ground. Several new projects are being explored that will:
- Develop a regional approach to an International Open Data Charter and the use of open data to create economic opportunities and fight corruption; and strengthen that charter by helping build common standards and vocabularies, common frameworks to measure impact and progress, and standardized metadata.
- Bring government and industry data providers together to explore ways of using statistical data to create economic and social value for all our people.
- Share the US experience—and the code that drives its websites—to help our collaborators develop open data portals, FOIA document request systems, and other sites that facilitate public participation in government.
- Initiate trilateral efforts to exchange information and look into systems that would make it easier for people and goods to move back and forth across the continent, and strengthen cybersecurity in all of North America.
That same week, Mexico also sponsored an International Identity Summit, which began as a North American Day spin-off two years ago. OCSIT leaders, and experts from seven other countries—Mexico, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Denmark and Japan—met to compare notes on their national governments’ identity management programs (like Connect.gov) and each country’s progress in providing a single credential for access to all government digital services.