This is one of the fundamental considerations within the open government movement. Does government exist to serve the public? Who participates in developing policy, creating laws and deciding what is best for citizens and communities?
Beth Noveck, in her TED Global presentation, Demand a more open-source government, poses a number of challenges to citizens and governments around the world to open up governance processes, involving citizens at every stage.
Brought to my attention by Andrew Krzmarzick of Govloop, Beth Noveck Delivers Terrific TED Talk on Open Government, Noveck's talk is the best I've seen on the topic this year.
There's also a great blog post about the presentation at the TED site, Demand a more open-source government: Beth Noveck at TEDGlobal 2012
I strongly recommend that you watch Noveck's talk and share it widely with your colleagues.