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Federal Agency Managers and Staff Weigh-In on Open Govt Agenda

Here’s an important announcement Joe Goldman sent me last week.  Joe is Vice President of Citizen Engagement at AmericaSpeaks. Four leading organizations in our field very recently convened a two-day meeting with 34 Federal Managers from 23 different agencies and offices across the federal government.  The meeting, called the Champions of Participation conference, focused on what can be done to increase and improve the use of face-to-face participation and collaboration by federal agencies.

Here is Joe’s introduction, followed by the official announcement.  It is hoped that this report will inform Obama’s open governance directive.

Friends,

I am happy to share that we just completed a report to the Open Government Directive based on our Champions of Participation conference with 34 Federal Managers from 23 different agencies and offices across the federal government.

While most of the conversation about the President’s commitment to open government has focused on transparency and technology issues, our recommendations focus more on what can be done to increase and improve the use of face-to-face participation and collaboration by federal agencies.

I have attached an executive summary of the report. You can download the full report here: www.americaspeaks.org/resources/publications

You can also view a video of reports from the conference here:  www.youtube.com/user/americaspeaksdotorg

Thanks,
Joe Goldman

Federal Agency Managers and Staff Weigh-In on Open Govt Agenda

Open Government Report Reflects Views from Participation Champions at 23 Federal Agencies and Offices

Federal managers from 23 different agencies and offices across the federal government recommended that the President’s Open Government Directive to create a new government-wide structure that would transform how the government involves the American people in key decision making. While most conversation about the President’s commitment to open government has focused on transparency and technology issues, federal managers urged the task force spearheading the effort to incorporate reforms that enable meaningful face-to-face participation and collaboration in addition to online.

The report, called Champions of Participation, was created based on a one-day conference that was convened in Washington, DC, by AmericaSpeaks (www.americaspeaks.org), Demos (www.demos.org), Everyday Democracy (www.everydaydemocracy.org), and Harvard University’s Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government (ashinstitute.harvard.edu).

“President Obama has created the most extraordinary opportunity for the US federal government to ensure that the voices of American citizens  are heard and included at the highest level of policy decision making” says Dr. Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, Founder and President of AmericaSpeaks. “These 34 federal managers have deep experience in experimenting with and creating opportunities for public participation, and provide critical perspectives on what it will take to create a more participatory and collaborative government.”

The Champions of Participation report includes recommendations to:

  • Require all agencies to submit plans within 120 days that outline how civic engagement will be incorporated into achieving their missions.
  • Convene a national policy discussion on health care reform in order to demonstrate the role that the public can play in national policy making on a key policy issue.
  • Establish a federal institute for public engagement, similar to the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution, to gather research on best practices, conduct trainings for federal managers, and develop a knowledge-base on participation and collaboration.
  • Direct the nation’s 28 Federal Executive Boards to implement collaborative partnership efforts at the regional level and report on plans for their participation and collaboration projects within 180 days.
  • Require agencies to modify and augment existing performance measurement and scorecard systems to include community engagement criteria and metrics.
  • Provide agencies with incentives to pilot public engagement through a prestigious government-wide award, a competition among agencies for funding to support new participation and collaboration projects, learning opportunities, and incentives that are integrated into senior leadership competency requirements.

Federal managers who participated in the development of the report came from a diverse set of agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Energy, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Park Service, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Federal Highway Administration, the National Institutes of Health, Department of the Interior, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

With six weeks until the Open Government Directive’s May 21 due date, this meeting is a timely contribution to the development of the Directive, which will require agencies to take specific steps to become more participatory, collaborative and transparent. President Obama called for the Open Government Directive on his first full day in office through a Memorandum on Openness and Transparency.

“My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government,” said President Obama in the Memorandum. “Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.”

Download the full report here:

www.americaspeaks.org/_data/n_0001/resources/live/Champions%20Report%20of%20Proceedings%20final.pdf
_________________________________

Joe Goldman
Vice President of Citizen Engagement
AmericaSpeaks

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Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with Andy Fluke in 2002, with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first national conference. She served as NCDD's Executive Director between 2002 and 2018. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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