Archive for the ‘Citizen participation’ Category

Business of Government Blog Index

May 10, 2010

The Business of Government Blog has moved to a new address, as of May 10.  Please visit us in our new location at:  http://www.businessofgovernment.org/blogs/the-business-of-government

Please re-set your RSS feed to the new blog site address, as well. . . .

Following is an index of blog entries between the start, September 1, 2009, and the end of April 2010, organized around some major themes:

Web 2.0 and Social Media

Launching the BizGov Blog (09-01-09)

Blogs as Public Policy Forums (09-02-09)

Cloud Forecasting: A New Report (11-12-09)

Social Media Trends for Government in 2010 (11-25-09)

Gov/Web 2.0 Predictions for 2010 (01-06-10)

Virtual USA and Web 2.0 (03-19-10)

Middle Managers in a Web 2.0 World (03-31-10)

Using GIS to Increase Citizen Engagement (04-16-10)

Open and Transparent Government

What Do You Do With 110,000 Data Sets? (09-04-09)

New Transparency: Recovery.Gov (09-30-09)

Open Government: Implementation Guidance from OMB (12-09-09)

Implementing the Open Government Directive (12-15-09)

The Open Government Dialogue (Agencies launch 5-week effort) (02-09-10)

Making Sense of Open Gov Dialogues (02-10-10)

Virtual USA and Web 2.0 (03-19-10)

Congressional Transparency Caucus Formed (03-25-10)

Open Gov Plans Countdown (04-02-10)

Open Gov Plans Released, And . . . (04-09-10)

Scorecarding Agency Open Gov Plans (04-27-10)

HUD’s Open Gov Plan Focuses on Mission (05-05-10)

Collaboration

Using Czars to Govern (09-11-09)

Creating Spirit Communities (09-30-09) (based on book by Rosabeth Kantor)

The OMB Prize Memo (03-09-10)

Harnessing Informal Networks (03-10-10)

Virtual USA and Web 2.0 (03-19-10)

Passionate About Collaboration (04-23-10)

Citizen Participation

Blogs as Public Policy Forums (09-02-09)

Citizen Participation: An Update (09-15-09)

Using Crowdsourcing in Government (09-16-09)

Engaging Citizens in Oversight (09-22-09)

Citizen Engagement Newsletter by GSA (10-01-09)

On-Line Town Halls (10-26-09) Congressional Management Foundation Study

Citizen Participation: Other Countries Are Stepping Out (12-07-09)  UK and Australian Initiatives

Redefining the Role of Citizen in a Gov 2.0 World (02-04-10)

Using GIS to Increase Citizen Engagement (04-16-10)

Congress and Citizen Engagement (04-22-10)

Government Performance

The New Obama Performance Team (09-25-09)

Jump-Starting Performance Management (09-28-09) (Senator Carper Hearing)

Priorities and Principles for Performance (10-06-09) (OMB’s Zients Debute)

New Senate Task Force on Performance (10-23-09)

OMB’s New Performance Principles (10-29-09) (Zients’ Senate Budget Testimony)

More on the Senate Performance Hearing (10-30-09)

Data-Driven Performance: Senate Budget Hearing (12-11-09)

Happy Birthday GPRA! (12-16-09) by Jonathan Breul

Performance Reporting: Rhetoric vs. Reality (12-18-09) by Jonathan Breul

Using Performance Measures (12-22-09)

Managing Performance: A Series (12-23-09)

Model 1:  Performance Administration (12-24-09)

Model 2:  Siloed Performance Systems (12-28-09)

Model 3:  Performance Management Framework (12-29-09)

Model 4:  Performance Governance (12-30-09)

Obama’s FY 2011 Management Initiatives (02-02-10)

Obama’s Stealth Management Revolution (02-11-10)

The OMB Prize Memo (03-09-10)

Key National Indicators Are Now Real (03-23-10)

IRMCO 2010 (04-12-10) by Jonathan Breul (conference panel examining Obama Administration management initiatives)

Workforce and Employee Engagement

Federal  Jobs:  A New Era (09-03-09)

Recognizing Civil Servants (09-18-09)

Ask Employees How to Fix It, Part I (09-17-09)

ISO Good Ideas:  Ask Employees, Part II (09-23-09)

Governing by Suggestion Box (10-20-09)

Dealing with Poor Performers (10-16-09)

Motivating Workers (01-04-10)

Chances to Innovate (01-08-10)

Managing Guerrilla Employees (02-12-10)

Balancing Innovation, Risk, and Control (03-03-10)

How Leaders Make a Difference (03-04-10)

Middle Managers in a Web 2.0 World (03-31-10)

Mocking Public Service (04-29-10)

Labor-Management Forums and Performance (05-04-10)

Health Care Reform

Health Care Reform Implementation (Part 1)  (11-30-09)

Health Care Reform Implementation (Part 2) (12-03-09)

Doing Big Things in Government (12-01-09)

Sustaining Health Care Reform (12-02-09)

But will it work? (03-29-10) by Jonathan Breul

Implementing Health Care Reform (04-26-10)

Recovery Act

Engaging Citizens in Oversight (09-22-09)

New Transparency: Recovery.Gov (09-30-09)

Recovery Act: Shifting Mindsets (11-06-09)

Recovery Act Reporting (02-15-10)

Research Topic 2: Implementing the Recovery Act (02-24-10)

Implementing the Recovery Act: The Blog (03-17-10)

Contract Reform

The Insourcer’s Apprentice: OMB’s Jeff Liebman (10-8-09)

Out- and In-Sourcing: True Confessions (11-11-09)

Bottom-Up Procurement Reform (10-13-09)

OMB: Trying a Change in Tone to Collaborating with Agencies (10-22-09)

Acquisition 2.0:  OMB’s Latest Acquisition Guidance (10-28-09)

Signs of Procurement Revolution (11-24-09)

Obama Procurement Agenda (03-12-10)

Program Evaluation and Use of Analytics

New OMB Program Evaluation Guidance (10-07-09)

Davenport:  Make Better Decisions (10-27-09)

Risky Business:  What is Enterprise Risk Management? (10-15-09)

Financial Management

Fiscal Sanity: Lessons from Around the World (12-08-09) by Jonathan Breul

FY 2009 Financial and Performance Reports (12-10-09) by Jonathan Breul

Debt Commission in the FY 2011 Budget? (01-04-10) by Jonathan Breul

Fiscal Summit and America’s Fiscal Challenges (05-06-10)

Presidential Transition, the First Year

Link to the IBM Center’s Presidential Transition Blog, 2008-2009

Falling Behind on Appointments (09-24-09)

Searching for a New Comptroller General (12-14-09) by Jonathan Breul

Improving the Presidential Transition (01-12-10) by Michael Keegan

TWOFER (two new reports: Assessment of Presidential Transition and Fiscal Future) (01-14-10) by Jonathan Breul

Leadership Matters (Rajiv Shah, USAID, and Haiti Earthquake) (01-15-10)

Lessons on Reform

Lessons of Reinvention (09-07-09)

Dispatch from Saudi Arabia (11-2-09) an International Conference on Public Administration

Reinventing Saudia Arabia (11-03-09)

Saudi Conference: Lessons for Us (11-05-09)

Recovery Act: Shifting Mindsets (11-06-09)

Calling on Corporate Leaders: Now vs. Then (White House CEO Forum on Modernizing Government) (01-19-10)

Finding Bright Spots (01-25-10)

Doing What Works (a new initiative by the Center for American Progress) (02-18-10)

Why Execution Stalls (03-08-10)

Modernizing Government: Forum Results (03-24-10)

Australian Management Reform (04-06-10)

White House Management Advisory Board (04-21-10)

Agency Transformation

HUD Transformation Initiative (01-12-10)

HUD’s Open Gov Plan Focuses on Mission (05-05-10)

Veterans Affairs: “Transformation 21″ and Beyond (01-21-10)

Public Management Research

Framing a Public Management Research Agenda (02-22-10)

Topic 1: Performance Improvement and Analysis (02-23-10)

Topic 2: Implementing the Recovery Act (02-24-10)

Topic 3: Federal Contracting and Acquisition (02-25-10)

Topic 4: Technology, Transparency, and Participatory Democracy (02-26-10)

A High Performance Government (04-13-10) Volcker’s new reform campaign

Oversight

Engaging Citizens in Oversight (09-22-09)

Searching for a New Comptroller General (12-14-09) by Jonathan Breul

Final Four to lead the GAO? (03-22-10) by Jonathan Breul

Congressional Transparency Caucus Formed (03-25-10)

5 (not just 4) names to be Comptroller General (03-26-10) by Jonathan Breul

Deperately Seeking a Watchdog (04-05-10) by Jonathan Breul

Conversations with Leaders and The Business of Government Magazine

The Business of Government Magazine: Fall 2009 (12-09-09) by Michael Keegan

Conversation on Human Service Delivery in New York City (02-05-10) by Michael Keegan

Allen, Thad (12-11-09)  by Michael Keegan

Childs, Robert (12-29-09) by Michael Keegan

Clancy, Carolyn (02-01-10) by Michael Keegan

Fauci, Anthony (12-10-09) by Michael Keegan

Fugate, Craig (02-17-10) by Michael Keegan

Hunter, Christine (01-08-10) by Michael Keegan

Thompson, Alan (01-06-10) by Michael Keegan

Triay, Ines (01-23-10) by Michael Keegan

Fiscal Summit and America’s Fiscal Challenges

May 6, 2010

Was it a parade of stars or a suicide mission?  Last week I attended a one-day wonk fest on the country’s long term fiscal outlook, the “2010 Fiscal Summit.”  It offered a rainy forecast, with possible thundershowers and occasional tornados.  It was organized by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which is dedicated to educating the public about the looming fiscal decisions our country needs to make.

Participants included political and news media rock stars:  Bill Clinton, Bob Rubin, Alan Greenspan, Paul Volcker, Alice Rivlin, Peter Orzag, Leslie Stahl, Bob Schieffer, Gwen Ifill, and of course Peter G. Peterson and David Walker (who heads the Foundation).

The Foundation has been trying to put a spotlight on the nation’s increasing fiscal challenges in recent years, with documentaries such as “IOUSA.” But in recent months, it has been promoting the need to come to some decisions.  The recent creation of President Obama’s Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (aka The Deficit Commission) – which is to offer solutions by the end of the year – created an opportunity to showcase the importance of the need to act soon (after the Fall election, of course).  The co-chairs of the commission – Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson – participated along with several members of the commission.

Defining Success.  Simpson referred to the commission’s work as a “suicide mission” and that he held out hopes that “we may only move the ball a yard.”  However Bowles observed that success may well be at least educating the American people of the nature of the choices we face so they’ll put pressure on their elected officials to act.  He observed that “we need to develop citizen trust and confidence that this is not for political gain but to solve a problem.”  Both he and Simpson think that “we need a set of facts and figures that everyone agrees on, as a starting point.”  A low bar, but President Obama says he’ll support whatever the Commission agrees to!

Management Matters.  While most of the conversation centered on more taxes and fewer services, former President Clinton and OMB Director Orzag both offered a different path. Clinton said that we are facing the typical problems of every maturing society.  Once a society becomes successful, it becomes rigid and obsessed with security – economic, social, and defense – and these rigidities need to be overcome.

He observed that our current education, health care, financial, energy, defense, and tax systems are all rigid, highly inefficient delivery systems.  He says we have to dramatically change the way we deliver services in each of these systems.  He observed “Congress understands the problem but isn’t organized to deal with it.”  He thinks one option might be to create a super committee that over a two-year period puts in place the changes needed to deal with the long-term deficit problem.

Orzag focused specifically on the inefficiencies in the health care system, saying it is the biggest driver of the deficit.  He hopefully offered that the new legislation creates several institutions that will begin to shift the entire system from paying for the quantity of services to paying for the quality of services.  How these new institutions are stood up – the Medicare Advisory Board, the Payments Advisory Board, and the Innovation Center – will determine the success of these efforts.

Resources.  There are lots of places trying to market the facts and figures, and some solutions, but they don’t seem to be getting traction among the general public:

Next Steps. The Summit ended with a concrete step towards creating grassroots political attention (beyond the Tea Party) with the announcement of a simultaneous 20-city citizen dialogue on ways to fix long term fiscal challenges. The goal is to create “a shared sense of urgency,” noted Walker.

Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones selected to participate in one of these town meetings on June 26th (the Saturday before the 4th of July weekend!).  And in the meanwhile, the Deficit Commission plans monthly meetings through the end of the year.

HUD’s Open Gov Plan Focuses on Mission

May 5, 2010

The Collaboration Project hosted a “lessons learned” forum last week on how agencies developed their Open Government Plans.  I was particularly impressed with what the presenter from the Department of Housing and Urban Development said, so I dug a bit further and read its plan (or its exec sum). The presenter, Stan Buch, said the department initially approached the effort from a more tactical perspective — as a technology initiative — but quickly saw it as a strategic effort to help transform how the department achieves its mission goals.

As a result, the department is creating a program management office to spearhead its Open Government efforts, and it will operate under the department’s new chief operating officer, Estelle Richman.  It’ll have working groups focused on technology, culture, and policy, in addition to specific mission-related initiatives.

More significantly, it has tied its Open Government initiatives into its department-wide strategic planning efforts and its “high priority goals” that are featured in the President’s budget.  Specifically, it has identified a series of “bureaucracy busting” flagship initiatives, such as:

  • Establish an innovation lab to explore ways to use mobile technology (i.e., cell phones) to provide better information to public housing residents – whether it is emergency information or the ability to provide on-the-spot resolution to problems.
  • Proactively allocate homeless prevention aid to communities based on predictive analytics.  HUD plans to use data sets from throughout the government to build predictive models and map-based visualizations of communities that may be at risk of increased homelessness. The data will be used to forestall potential waves of homelessness due to increased foreclosures, business bankruptcies that might wipeout pensions, etc.
  • Build and host an on-line business practices exchange for non-profit housing providers to share ideas with each other.  Helping community-based non-profits with tools, guidance, and connecting with each other will allow them to become “force multipliers” in their own communities, without the direct involvement of HUD.

HUD’s plan has gotten external recognition, as well.  The non-profit OpenTheGovernment’s assessment of agency Open Government Plans ranked HUD second only to top-ranked NASA.

Have you seen instances where other agencies have used their Open Government initiatives to leverage outcome-oriented, mission-related strategic initiatives?

Scorecarding Agency Open Gov Plans

April 27, 2010

The Obama Administration announced today a scorecard of the quality of the plans submitted earlier this month by 29 major agencies.  Using a checklist of 30 criteria, the scorecards show all agencies rating either a “yellow” or a “green” on their scorecards. These plans are being referred to as “version 1.0.”

The three agencies with the best ratings were the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Transportation, and NASA.

In addition, the White House has created a “leading practices” webpage where agencies can showcase their best efforts in four areas:

  • Leadership, Governance, and Culture Change
  • Transparency
  • Participation and Collaboration
  • Flagship Initiative

The Open Government Working Group, comprised of executives from each of the major agencies, continues to meet regularly to share leading practices.

It’ll be interesting to see what the separate scoring of agency plans looks like when the advocacy groups announce their results in coming days!

Congress and Citizen Engagement

April 22, 2010

Earlier this week, the Pew Center’s survey on citizen trust in government shows trust in government has plummeted to record lows.  As if to support these findings, there were “gun rallies” in support of Second Amendment rights a few days ago.  And last week, there was a Tea Party rally demanding a smaller government. Last summer, there were angry town hall meetings across the country with members of Congress on health care reform. 

In parallel to this rise in grassroots citizen discontent with government is an active effort by President Obama to increase citizen engagement in their government.  His Open Government Initiative is beginning to take hold as agencies develop new initiatives and prepare detailed plans.  This Open Government trend is also being reflected at state and local levels.

And yesterday, it looks like Congress is taking notice.  The Congressional Management Foundation — a non-profit, non-partisan support group that helps individual members of Congress improve the management of their official offices – launched a new initiative to help Congress “listen to citizens and govern with their voices in mind.” 

It has created a Partnership for a More Perfect Union to “improve understanding through education, re-establishing trust, and providing innovative yet pragmatic tools to facilitate purposeful two-way communication.”  It will work not only with Congress but also with citizens and grassroots advocacy groups to “create meaningful civic engagement.”

This will include activities such as:

  • Serving as a repository for New Media research, training, and resources that will help both Congress and citizens communicate better on public policy issues.
  • Research and training on creating a “21st Century Town Hall” format that includes in-person, on-telephone, and on-line engagement.
  • Creating a mechanism, such as a code of conduct, that allows “participating grassroots practitioners to distinguish themselves as respected partners in the democratic dialogue.”
  • Continuing its sponsorship of the “Gold Mouse Award” Project to recognize congressional websites that provide a high degree of transparency and information.

Why is the Congressional Management Foundation doing this? In part, because of the nature of the political climate, but also because grassroots advocacy has grown so much in recent years because of the availability of technology. 

The Foundation found that “many congressional offices are suspicious of advocacy campaigns of identical form messages,” but the grassroots community argues “that the vast majority of communications are from constituents who perform a direction action.”  There is mistrust between the two that leads congressional staff to discount constituent messages, and this creates a gulf. 

This is then compounded in in-person town hall meetings where “there has been an alarming increase in incivility and dissatisfaction on the part of both Members and citizens,” with “meetings targeted by busloads of non-constituents with a goal of disrupting the meeting.”

The Partnership is pursuing a five-year agenda, beginning this year with a foundation of strong organizational development and several projects.  It will also recruit both staff and fellows, and partner with other organizations such as AmericaSpeaks and Fleishman-Hillard.  Next year, it will sponsor the first annual Conference on Effective Civic Dialogue.  My guess is that there will be lots of “lessons learned” from the upcoming congressional election campaigns!

Using GIS to Increase Citizen Engagement

April 16, 2010

Federal agencies recently released their Open Government Plans on how they will actively engage citizens in agency decision-making efforts.  None, that I’ve seen in what I’ve read so far, are taking advantage of a growing trend to use geographic information systems (GIS) to increase citizen engagement.

This trend is growing mainly in local governments, according to a recent IBM Center report by Dr. Sukumar Ganapati, “Using Geographic Information Systems to Increase Citizen Engagement.”  There are some lessons the feds could learn!

Evolution of GIS.  Professor Ganapati traces the evolution of the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in government, with a focus on the use of GIS by local government. The current “third wave” of GIS, called “Geospatial Web 2.0 platforms,” has seen a dramatic increase in the use of GIS by citizens, such as obtaining transit and crime information. Professor Ganapati presents several case examples of how GIS is now being used by local governments across the nation.

At the local level, GIS is being used for a variety of functions that are beginning to change the citizen-government relationship:

Citizen-oriented transit information.  As cities and transit agencies post their real-time data sets on the web, it becomes possible to create web applications that reach across jurisdictions and different agencies.  Google Transit Trip Planner, for example, helps communities like Hampton Roads, Virginia, better plan their trips on public transportation, as well as Bing Maps, which provides current traffic and incident reports in cities like Miami, Florida.  These tools help empower citizens to decide how they get where they want to go!

Citizen relationship management.  Agencies have long used 311 systems to provide centralized non-emergency services, such as reporting potholes or accumulated trash.  But some cities, like Charlotte, NC, are integrating these onto maps on the web so they can be visualized.  Non-governmental services, such as See-Click-Fix are providing similar services, allowing citizens to report and rate the significance of problems found.

Citizen-volunteered GIS.  Web 2.0 services are allowing citizens to become directly engaged in co-producing services.  For example, OpenStreetMap is a free map of the world that can be edited by anybody to collaboratively map details in communities for crimes, environmental monitoring, parking, or even the use of stimulus monies!

Citizen Engagement via GIS.  Of special interest to Professor Ganapati is the potential use of GIS in reaching out to citizens to increase their participation in planning and decisionmaking. He concludes that, while progress has been slow in this area, there is great potential for government and other groups to use GIS to increase citizen participation.  For example, Portland, OR, used Google Maps to elicit public participation in the planning of the region’s High Capacity Transit System, allowing citizen to comment on, and make trade-offs between, different rail line scenarios.

At the federal level, the Census Bureau is using GIS mapping of mail-in 2010 census forms to rate each community’s participation rate.  In addition, GIS applications are being developed by non-governmental software developers in response to the “data transparency” initiative, Data.Gov.  For example, federally-provided data from the FAA and the National Weather Service are combined to provide travelers real-time information on flights, via FlyOnTime.com

Do you know of other examples worth highlighting?

Open Gov Plans Released, And . . .

April 9, 2010

. . . Both the White House and the Open Government advocacy groups plan to assess them.   No good deed goes unnoticed!

The White House says it will evaluate them by May 1st (this implies that OMB posted the agency plans before it reviewed them – this is a huge change!).  The Open Government advocacy groups are inviting others to volunteer to help assess agencies’ plans, based on a set of criteria they’ve developed.  This is somewhat reminiscent of the scoring of agency Annual Performance Reports under the Government Performance and Results Act by the Mercatus Center, but in this case, it’s more open!

Yesterday, White House staffer Beth Noveck, who has been shepparding the Open Government initiative, wrote a blog entry summarizing some of the highlights she’s read so far.  Her summary is worth reading.  For example, the list of “flagship initiatives” is exciting.  HUD is developing a predictive tool to determine where homelessness may increase, in an effort to forestall it.  And the Department of Health and Human Services is developing a dashboard to allow users to track and graphic Medicare spending on different key services, by large hospitals.

I’ve largely missed much of this hoopla because I’ve been attending conferences on the West Coast.  But the topic  of Open Government is on the front burner, even there!

Yesterday, I participated in a panel sponsored by the American Bar Association in San Francisco.  I summarized what’s been going on in Washington regarding the Open Government efforts, but I learned a lot from what’s going on in the field.

Another Potential Assessment Framework.  I was particularly enlightened by a description of how to think about citizen involvement at different stages in the “life cycle” of a policy issue.  Prof. Lisa Bingham, from Indiana University, offered a scholarly model that might serve as a useful assessment tool for agency Open Government Plans, as well as legislative reforms in the future.

Prof. Bingham looked at citizen involvement as described in administrative law and rules and outlined a three-part framework:

Source: Lisa B. Bingham, "Collaborative Governance: Emerging Practices and the Incomplete Legal Framework for Citizen and Stakeholder Voice," Missouri Journal of Dispute Resolution, Vol. 2009, No. 2

 

Upstream Involvement.  Here, citizens can be engaged in the development of a policy through dialogue and deliberation.  This would include both the legislative and the quasi-legislative elements of policymaking.  Examples include the use of tools such as Deliberative Polling, Citizen Assemblies, and Study Circles.  The objective is to gain informed citizen input before a proposal is completely formed.

Midstream Involvement.  This is the stage where a policy is being implemented. This would include tools such as negotiated rulemaking, participatory budgeting, and watershed networks.  The objective at this stage is to involve citizens in helping define and prioritize how a policy should be implemented.  An example in the recently-passed health care bill is citizen involvement in developing a national strategy for health care quality.

Downstream Involvement. This is the stage where policies are being enforced through judicial or quasi-judicial means.  The tools would include alternative dispute resolution, mediation, and facilitation.  The objective is to avoid the “win-lose” scenarios that would be imposed through agency adjudication or court action.

Prof. Bingham is concerned that the existing federal legal framework deals with these elements in a piecemeal fashion and encouraged consideration of a “Collaborative Governance Act” that would update laws, such as the 1947 Administrative Procedures Act, which did not foresee the existence of the internet and its impact on how government and citizens interact today.  OMB did offer some new, more liberal, interpretations of some of these statutes in memos released in recent days, but Prof. Bingham thinks that legislation may be needed to reach much further.

Open Gov Plans Countdown

April 2, 2010

Next week, agency Open Government Plans are due to the Office of Management and Budget.

OMB directed agencies back in December to submit plans by April 7th that reflect the input of both agency leaders and the general public.  The plans “should explain in detail” how agencies will improve transparency, promote opportunities for the public to participate “throughout the decision-making process,” and offer “changes to internal management and administrative policies to improve collaboration.”  Plans should describe the use of technology platforms, use of prizes and competitions, and offer “at least one specific, new transparency, participation, or collaboration initiative.”

A lot has been going on behind the scenes, both in government and in the non-profit world, to help create useful plans.

Internal Initiatives.  In addition to the guidance, OMB has created an Open Government “dashboard” to track agency progress and provide links directly to each agency’s Open Government webpages that detail what individual agencies are doing.  For example, the Department of Health and Human Services offers opportunities for the public to suggest ways it can be more open.

OMB is also sponsoring several cross-agency work groups.  One group focuses on improving data quality, as required in the OMB’s December 2009 directive.   The other working group serves as their agency’s representative on Open Government initiatives:  “this group will serve several critical functions.  These functions include (1) the development and sharing of best practices and innovative ideas to promote transparency, encourage participation, and foster collaboration and (2) coordinating efforts to implement existing mandates for Federal spending transparency.”

In addition, the General Services Administration provided an electronic dialogue tool to agencies so they could reach out to the public to get ideas for what they might include in their Open Government Plans.  About two dozen agencies participated in a five-week on-line dialogue, receiving about 2,200 ideas and 3,400 comments on these ideas.  The most popular idea was for NASA to hold a joint conference with other agencies on the use of space solar power.  Another popular idea was to support the use of electronic textbooks in schools. (I’m not sure what either of these have to do with helping agencies develop their Open Gov plans, but that’s one of the beauties of asking for ideas!).

Interestingly, agencies are moving forward with their engagement efforts – even absent a plan!  And these efforts embrace the range of innovative to traditional.

For example, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) teamed with State and other agencies to engage in an international dialogue on how the US government might better define its foreign aid efforts.  That effort engaged more than 10,000 people in 155 countries.  Over a 72 hour period, there were more than 15,000 visits and 9,000 postings.  Topics included “empowering women and girls” (the most popular) as well as “how to inspire a new generation.”

While USAID’s “GlobalPulse 2010” effort seemed to be a cutting edge approach to engaging the public, the Office of Management and Budget seems to be avoiding any Open Gov technology in a high visibility effort it has underway to engage interested parties around a proposed policy letter to define what is “Inherently Governmental.”  This draft policy has great potential to affect both private and public sector employees but OMB’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP)  has chosen to use the traditional 30-day comment period, posted in the Federal Register.  Its nod to technology is to allow emailed comments that will then be posted on a website (good luck reading them; the link doesn’t work):

“OFPP invites interested parties from both the public and private sectors to
provide comments to be considered in the formulation of the final policy letter.
Interested parties should submit comments in writing to the address below
on or before June 1, 2010.

ADDRESSES: Comments may be submitted by any of the following methods:
     E-mail: OFPPWorkReserved@omb.eop.gov.
     Facsimile: 202-395-5105.
     Mail: Office of Federal Procurement Policy, ATTN: Mathew
Blum, New Executive Office Building, Room 9013, 724 17th Street, NW.,
Washington, DC 20503.
    Instructions: Please submit comments only and cite ``Proposed OFPP
Policy Letter'' in all correspondence. All comments received will be
posted, without change, to
http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/procurement/workreserved/work_comments.html,
without redaction, so commenters should not include information
that they do not wish to be posted.”

It will certainly be interesting to see how Open Gov technologies are applied to the implementation of health care reform!

External Initiatives.  Advocates for Open Government seem to want to find ways to help the government increase its ability to engage the public.  After the OMB directive, a series of “help” sites emerged.  Some are wikis that allow agencies to post best practices.  Others provide in-person workshop opportunities to share ideas.  Here are some I’m aware of:

PBworks: www.opengovplaybook.org

Open Gov Directions:  http://opengovernmentdirections.org/

Participedia:  http://participedia.net/wiki/Welcome_to_Participedia

USNow (actually a British effort):  http://www.usnowfilm.com/

So let’s see what the countdown to the OMB deadline brings!

Congressional Transparency Caucus Formed

March 25, 2010

Government Executive’s Elizabeth Newell writes that a bipartisan congressional Transparency Caucus  has been formed.  Led by Republican Representative Darrell Issa (CA) and Democratic Representative Michael Quigley (IL), the Caucus will advocate greater government transparency and provide support and oversight of government efforts.

 A written set of principles that will guide their effort asserts that the American people have a right to:

  •  Public access to all of their government’s information.
  • Analyze their government’s information.
  • Interactive access to federal laws.
  • Track all federal spending and scrutinize the federal budget.
  • Demand objective, transparent performance standards for all federal agencies.
  • Aggressive, independent oversight.

In addition, the Caucus says there is a need to institutionalize a culture of open government.

Key National Indicators Are Now Real

March 23, 2010

Almost three years ago, I blogged on the need for a Key National Indicator System so we, as a nation, could track our progress using data, not diatribe.  It’s happened.  A provision buried on page 1,489 of the health insurance reform bill makes it real!

The legislation creates a bipartisan commission to oversee the development and implementation of a Key National Indicator System by the National Academies of Science. Congress has 30 days to appoint the 8 members of the commission.

The National Academies can partner with an independent non-profit entity – such as the State of the USA – or it can develop the Indicator System itself.  The project is appropriated $70 million, through fiscal year 2018, to develop and maintain the Indicator System.

This effort was launched in 2003 by then-comptroller general David Walker when he headed the Government Accountability Office.  He, and others, hope that providing an independent, non-partisan, non-governmental source of information about how well our country is doing will help provide a factual basis for policy decisions, and hopefully moderate ideological approaches to deciding on nation’s future.  As GAO puts it: “A well-informed nation is an essential component of a healthy democracy.”

More importantly for the performance world, it could also serve as a solid foundation for creating a more results-oriented approach to governing!


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