Objective: to identify how and when the open government principles, specifically transparency, participation, and collaboration, are being incorporated into the public policy cycle phases in local governments. Theoretical framework: theories related to public policy analysis and open government. Method: a single case study with an incorporated focus on the open government initiative of the São Paulo City Hall, where three distinct public policies were analyzed from a theoretical-analytical framework built by integrating the approach of the public policy cycle with the three open government principles. Results: the study showed that in none of the analyzed policies there was the full incorporation of these principles in the five phases of the policy cycle and that little progress was made regarding the requirements for them to be considered open policies. Conclusions: the study contributes to narrowing the theoretical-methodological gap concerning the effectiveness of open government initiatives. The method offers conditions to be applied in different realities and can be used in future research to better understand how open government principles are being incorporated into public policies of governments that have signed open government commitments.