Government is the organizing principle of a community. Usually its authority to maintain that organization is derived from the consent of the people or is imposed by force.
For the purposes of this project, a government can be the authority over a geopolitical area and/or it can be the authority over a self-defined group of people, such as a professional society. See the Wikipedia article on Government.
Problems with current governmental structures
The Metagovernment project intends to address some of the inherent problems with current governmental structures (see Why this project is needed) by creating a more open community structure. Some of the identified problems include:
Multiple layers of government (community, township, city, county, metro, province, region, nation, multinational organization) sometimes can be overly burdensome and/or contradictory.
Strict geographic focus
All traditional governments are delineated by geography -- the nation-state. As society moves further onto the internet, this becomes increasingly impractical. (As an important side-note, geographic governments also might be a necessary factor for war. If governments become more divorced from geography, they may find it unnecessary -- or even logistically impossible -- to conduct military actions against each other.)
In absence of the limits of geography, people would likely organize around shared values rather than geography.
Disenfranchisement by geography
People who do not live within a particular region may nonetheless be severely impacted by actions taken within that region; yet they usually have absolutely no say in the law-making within that region because they are not residents there. (Their typical recourse, then, is war or terrorism. However, see Why Meta?)
All governments give power to specific individuals, all of whom are naturally tempted toward corruption, even in representative democracy.
Lack of transparency
Frequently, governments see a need to hide their actions from the citizenry. At times, this may serve national interests, but it is also a wide gateway for corruption: allowing the leaders to take self-serving actions which may not be of benefit to the citizenry. Metagovernment support the notion of radical transparency as part of its basic principles.