On September 20, 2011, on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly, the President announced the U.S. Open Government National Action Plan. The Plan was developed through a process that involved extensive consultations with external stakeholders, including a broad range of civil society groups and members of the private sector, to gather ideas on open government. As we continue our work to implement the National Action Plan, we want your help. Specifically, we’d like your input and recommendations on how to improve and help facilitate public participation – your participation – in government.
The United States committed to undertake 26 Open Government initiatives in the National Action Plan, and we are working to implement each of them now. For example, the White House recently announced that Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will be the senior U.S. official to lead implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, an effort to ensure that taxpayers receive every dollar due for extraction of our natural resources. A major milestone was also reached in the development of an open government platform that will enable governments around the world to stand up their own open government data sites. And just last week, the President fulfilled a commitment made in the National Action Plan to begin a government-wide effort to reform and modernize records management policies and practices.
We are now requesting your assistance with one of the initiatives in the U.S. National Action Plan designed to promote public participation:
Develop Best Practices and Metrics for Public Participation. We will identify best practices for public participation in government and suggest metrics that will allow agencies to assess progress toward the goal of becoming more participatory. This effort will highlight those agencies that have incorporated the most useful and robust forms of public participation in order to encourage other agencies to learn from their examples.”
Given the focus of this initiative, we thought it would be most appropriate to invite you to provide input and ideas on best practices and metrics for public participation, including but not limited to suggestions and recommendations that address the following questions:
- What are the appropriate measures for tracking and evaluating participation efforts in agency Open Government Plans?
- What should be the minimum standard of good participation?
- How should participation activities be compared across agencies with different programs, amounts of regulatory activity, budgets, staff sizes, etc.?
- What are the most effective forms of technology and web tools to encourage public participation, engage with the private sector/non-profit and academic communities, and provide the public with greater and more meaningful opportunities to influence agencies’ plans?
- What are possible mechanisms for agencies to increase the level of diversity of viewpoints and backgrounds brought to bear in their activities and decisions?
- What are the most effective strategies for ensuring that participation is well-informed?
- What are some examples of success stories involving strong public participation, as well as less-than-successful efforts, and what lessons can be drawn from them?
Please send your thoughts to us at email@example.com or use the web form provided, by January 3, 2012. We will consider your ideas and input as we continue to implement the U.S. National Action Plan and develop this best practices guidance on public participation.