All too often, open government products - resources, often technology driven, aimed at driving changes in governance processes - are created but not used. Sometimes this is a result of empty promises made to look good, get funding, or get voters. Other times, it is a result of poor design, including attempted adoption of ready-made solutions from another context without giving thought to how the product will be used and by whom.
Unused products may be a result of an outside initiative such as a project implemented with an international donor, or as a way to fulfill a requirement from an agreement made with an international platform. When the impetus is external, risks of implementation without consideration of end users, appropriateness of context, or questions of sustainability can be high.
Products developed to, for example, capture the needs of citizens, demand for improved access and quality of public services, and track gaps and opportunities in governance processes can be useful. However, there are various reasons why target audiences may not use them. The examples of underutilised open government products illustrate the variety in product, but the same results in use:
In Serbia, an online space for public debate and consultations on draft legislation was integrated to an e-government portal. Updates to the portal are infrequent, and interactions with it are minimal.
In Moldova, a guide on citizen engagement was designed to be a “live document” that public servants could use. The content remains static.