[Tagging] Feature Proposal - RFC - Government offices

Matthijs Melissen info at matthijsmelissen.nl
Thu Jan 28 11:00:47 UTC 2016

On 27 January 2016 at 15:03, Frederik Ramm <frederik at remote.org> wrote:
> 1. In many western civilizations you have a division of state powers in
> an executive, a legislature, and a judiciary. I believe that you'd
> normally only call the executive "government", although colloquially
> people will say "the government has passed a law" or "the government has
> put him in prison" too.

Isn't the division of powers theory referred to as 'three branches of
government'? That seems to indicate that government can encompass the
legislative power as well.

Also, note that on local level, the branches are much more mingled,
and usually share a single building (the city council usually meets in
the building where the mayor/aldermen work).

> For a government=* tag to succeed, it would have to be clearly
> delineated for what kinds of things it is to be used. The proposed
> definition is already murky; for example, a job centre or even a museum
> cashier could be "fully paid for by the government and completely
> controlled by them". This is not any better defined than
> amenity=public_building.

Good point. Do you, or anybody else, have a better definition? I think
I'd prefer the job center to be included, but the museum to be

> 2. At the same time, governments all over the world are vastly
> different; in some places, for example, the water works will be closely
> guarded government institutions, and in others, private enterprises in
> competition to each other. Same with railways and many other utilities
> which, at least in socialist countries, tend to be practically
> inseparable from government (except that it will be bloody difficult to
> assign an admin_level to them). I think that it is very likely that
> you'll end up with a vastly varying use of this tag across the world,
> with many values limited in use to a single country plus a few uses
> sprinkled across the world because nobody understood that a certain type
> of office really only exists in three Philippine provinces.

True, but I don't think that's really a problem. If the reality is
different in across countries, we can expect the tagging to differ as
well. I think the wiki page should provide some international
guidelines, but in the end each national community can decide how to
implement them (similarly to how each country decides what counts as a
trunk road).

> 3. Personally I feel that in addition to the above, there's a major
> difference between places where the government provides a service to the
> citizen - where you go to do something or have something done - and
> other places where the government essentially revolves in its own sauce
> and you're not even let in to watch. The former is an useful "this is
> where you go if you need to <X>" information, the latter is essentially
> just for fancy lettering on the map because you won't usually go there
> for anything. Much like the difference between a Domino's pizza place
> and the Domino's central franchise building. I think that it might make
> sense to find different tags for the government "outlets" or "serivce
> points" as opposed to government office buildings.

Good point as well. However, note that this differs a lot between
countries as well. For example, in some countries, if you have a tax
question, you can just walk in to the tax office, where'll you be
redirected to the tax inspector that will actually handle your tax
forms. In other countries, you can only reach the tax office by phone
or mail. There are also many forms in between places where you can
just walk in, and places that are closely guarded. For example,
ministry buildings are generally relatively closed off, but sometimes
you might need to go there to get certain documents. For instance, in
Luxembourg you can register your diplomas in person at the higher
education ministry. An other example, you would not usually go to the
city's traffic department are usually, but you might need to go there
if you need signs to close of a parking space.

-- Matthijs

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