This article examines the institutional factors that influence the implementation of open data platforms in U.S. cities. Public management scholarship has argued that governance can be transformed by new information technologies that improve transparency and engagement, reduce administrative costs, and support performance management systems. However, this argument ignores key risks for administrators, as well as institutional and political obstacles that can thwart implementation. This article uses hierarchical negative binomial regression to analyze the organizational and institutional features influencing implementation in more than 1,500 departments across 60 cities. Department type and administrative capacity are strongly associated with the number of open data files available, while city-level institutional characteristics and administrative capacity are not significant factors. Municipal demographics are also identified as a factor, suggesting a potential demand-side influence from wealthy and technologically proficient residents. Evidence for Practice The implementation of open data policies benefits from targeted approaches at the department level rather than uniform, citywide objectives or requirements. City executive-level positions such as chief data or information officers are not necessarily associated with successful implementation, measured by the number of open data files made available. Open data implementation involves additional administrative responsibilities and labor at the department level, so city administrators looking to expand the number and variety of data sets available through their open data platforms should devote time and resources to working directly with departments to facilitate and encourage data sharing. Administrators looking to expand the number and variety of data sets available through their open data platforms should consider the costs associated with investing in increasing individual departments’ abilities to balance the additional administrative responsibilities and labor involved.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Public Administration