Wrap-Up of the Open Government Brainstorming: Collaboration

n.b. The Phase II: Collaboration Discussion will continue through this week. Phase III: Drafting will begin on Monday, June 22, 2009.
From May 21st through June 3rd, thousands of you shared your ideas in Phase I of this public consultation process, the Brainstorm in the Open Government Initiative.  June 3rd marked the beginning of Phase II, the Discussion Phase. We started with your ideas on Transparency and Participation.  Comments continue to flood in from across the country on those topics and we encourage you to share your thoughts.  Today we turn to our third and final topic: Collaboration.  As the President explained in his Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government:  "Executive departments and agencies should use innovative tools, methods, and systems to cooperate among themselves, across all levels of Government, and with nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals in the private sector."
This next series of blog postings is designed to solicit public feedback to identify opportunities for collaboration. We want to set the stage for that conversation by summarizing the input received thus far. We’ve distilled your ideas on collaboration into three topics on which we’ll focus:
  • Enhancing Intra- and Inter-Government Collaboration
  • Creating Incentives for Public-Private Partnerships
  • Innovating in Alternative Dispute Resolution
As noted in our previous wrap-up posts about Transparency and Participation, we read and considered all the ideas you generated during the Open Government Brainstorm hosted by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA).  We also reviewed ideas submitted by federal employees, who were particularly engaged and lively on this topic, as well as submissions posted in From the Inbox.  NAPA did an analysis of the Brainstorm (pdf).
Here are some examples of specific submissions, grouped by topic area:
  1. Enhancing Intra- and Inter-Government Collaboration – Here are a number of ideas you proposed, from policy suggestions to ideas for specific tools that will improve institutional collaboration.
    • Cultivate a culture of collaboration and innovation across all levels of government by providing a best practices guide and providing technology collaboration tools.
    • Direct the Federal Executive Boards (FEBs) to develop plans for collaborative projects that engage the public on regional issues.
    • Create regional coordinating bodies for open government and develop an Open Government Seal of Approval that may be awarded to local governments showing a commitment to these principles.
    • Create a government-wide intranet and social networking tool to share contact information, resources, and otherwise facilitate collaboration.  Make it a place where information of all types could be stored and accessed internally by those who needed it and enable user-tagging features.
    • Develop an open technology infrastructure that enables the building and sharing of collaborative tools.
    • Use Strategy Markup Language (StratML) to enable potential partners to more easily discover each other based upon common missions, visions, values, goals, objectives, and stakeholders.
    • Create a central source code repository for all government software development projects to be hosted and collaborated on; make available to outside developers.
    • Use inexpensive Web 2.0 tools to create thematic bit streams (video, audio, data, documents) that channelize government-wide content to specific interdisciplinary problems (i.e. "Poverty").  Enable employees anywhere in the government to contribute and view information.
    • Make greater use of collaborative third-party Web 2.0 tools, such as Wordpress, Wikimedia, Ning, and Drupal, as well as extend existing collaborative government tools.  Choose tools that people think are enjoyable, useful and flexible.
    • Promote innovation among the federal workforce through use of idea generation platforms such as TSA’s IdeaFactory.
  2. Creating Incentives for Public-Private Partnerships – We got a range of ideas for how to work better together to get "all hands on deck" to address the serious challenges that we face today.
    • Extend the concept of the X-Prize to solving government’s most pressing challenges: provide a catalyst for private individuals, businesses, and nonprofits to develop radical breakthroughs that address pressing public issues.
    • Use competition to provide incentives for innovation.
    • Convene a national network of community-based policy dialogues to collaborate on developing solutions to important issues.
    • Transform the Small Business Association (SBA) into a microfinance agency for startups.
    • Create a website that allows volunteers to schedule time working for government & non-profits
    • Create inter-citizen forums for helping each other deal with government.  Sometimes, the best way for a citizen to get help in dealing with the government is to get help from somebody who had to deal with the same problem before.
  3. Innovating in Dispute Resolution – A number of you shared ideas for innovative dispute resolution strategies that will:
    • Build on existing dispute resolution authorities and guidance
    • Recommend that departments and agencies consider the spectrum of options when considering the public’s role in collaborative governance
    • Ensure collaborative governance objectives are integrated into agency mission statements, strategic plans, and senior executive service performance plans
    • Promote adoption of the Principles for Agency Engagement in Collaborative Problem-Solving and Environmental Conflict Resolution
    • Consider engaging independent conveners and facilitators
    • Promote federal staff training in collaborative and dispute resolution competencies
    • Create an ODR consulting team, made up of representatives from agencies currently using ODR technology tasked with offering advice to the Office of Science and Technology, the CTO, and the existing Interagency Dispute Resolution Working Group Steering Committee. Creating this team by identifying ODR adopters already working within the government costs nothing and brings some significant advantages.
    • Urge agencies to consider and use online dispute resolution technologies in all of their dispute resolution activities
    • All Federal agencies should develop effective and simple methods, including the use of electronic technology, to educate the public about its claims/benefits policies and procedures.
As mentioned in previous posts, Debategraph is a visual policy mapping tool that is being used for running citizen engagement on climate change in Europe.  Debategraph took the redacted collaboration proposals and created this interactive Debategraph.
Debategraph
Look for a blog post on collaboration on June 17th and share your thoughts!  Your active engagement and collaboration in this discussion process make it successful.
Beth Noveck is Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Open Government and Michael Baldwin is an Office of Science & Technology Policy Student Volunteer from Harvard Business School

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