In a move that some critics say is more about optics than substance, the Alberta government is preparing to make information that was previously kept under lock and key, available online.

The ‘open government’ policy joins a trend that’s gaining momentum around the world – it was introduced in the Obama administration in 2009.

“This is creating a whole new culture,” Service Alberta Minister Manmett Bhullar said. “It’s not just putting up a new portal.”

Next week, more provincial data such as expense reports will be stored online, and visible to the public.

“Hopefully it’ll result in more transparency, accountability and better service delivery for everyday Albertans,” Minister Bhullar said.

The minister said the information will be posted, even if it doesn’t show the provincial government in a positive light.

“There may be times that you have to put data out there that’s not very impressive, but still, you put it out, so you can make change,” Bhullar said.

It’s a move a number of political watchers have been pushing for.

“You know, it’s always exciting when a government makes a commitment that they want to share more information with the public,” David Eaves, a Vancouver-based political blogger said.

“It definitely is a signal that there are elements in the government that they do want to share information.”

However, one expert in political philosophy said the idea may sound good, but the information might be difficult for some to grasp.

“Information doesn’t interpret itself,” Dr. Galen Murphy said. “There’s a big distinction between information and knowledge, and giving people information without the education or the context or the intellectual background required to interpret the information doesn’t do any good.”

Bhullar said the initiative is expected to be officially unveiled next Tuesday – when more details of the plan will also be released.

With files from Bill Fortier