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Help the Federal Government Understand Participation

We have a simple opportunity to advise the federal government about public participation.  We have so many great ideas that we routinely share with each other on our email list, so let’s spend a few moments to share them with the federal employees that are just now entering this space.  Our NCDD colleagues within the federal government at the EPA and CDC have demonstrated that just a handful of individuals with the right knowledge can make a tremendous impact, so let’s spread that knowledge!

Background

As part of the White House’s recent Open Government Directive, twenty-four federal agencies started soliciting feedback on February 6th about how they can improve public participation at the national level.  This feedback will be incorporated into the open government plans which each agency is delivering by April 7th.  The General Services Administration (GSA) is one of the key hubs for implementation of the directive.  They are the agency which shares best practices and tools with all the other agencies, so if we had to focus on one agency, the GSA would be it.

So what can we do?

The GSA has posted the following question:  “How can GSA incorporate your voices and ideas into the routine policy development process?”  Three days after it was posted, there still aren’t any responses.  This is an opportunity for us to get our ideas to key decision makers.

You can respond to that question in two ways:

  • Go directly to the GSA’s link and place a comment under that question.  You’ll find you can easily sign in without making a new username or password if you already have an account on Google, Yahoo, AOL, or WordPress.
  • Or if email is much easier for you, reply to lucas[at]athenabridge.org and I’ll post it on the GSA’s site and mention that you are the author.

Example ideas that you may want to discuss:

  • Public participation is not just about online tools
  • There are many methods available
  • Point to success stories at the local level
  • Or just copy and paste some writing you’ve done about dialogue and deliberation that you think they should read.  Please make sure it relates to the question they’re asking.

To understand what is already being said across all 20+ agencies that are soliciting public feedback, see NCDD member Tim Bonnemann’s excellent OpenGov Open Feedback Firehose which he explains here.

OK, now I’ll say it.

If we don’t stack 50+ comments on that page, we’re missing a tremendous opportunity.  The comment period closes March 19th, but I advise that we should get all our ideas up there within the next seven days.

UPDATE: Several NCDD’ers have jumped right in and added their thoughts to the GSA’s web page.  I encourage you to share your insight there as well.

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Lucas Cioffi
Lucas Cioffi graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point. Having served one year in Baghdad as an infantry officer, he realizes the need for effective dialogue and deliberation in preventing conflict. He is passionate about advanced online deliberative platforms and is co-founder of AthenaBridge.com.

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  1. Larry Bidwell says:

    Dialouge must be done with integrity and openness and transparency. What I have found is at the local level is coming prepared and informed. Sometimes that isn't as open as should be because some information is held back, which some items have to be held at bay becuase of deals going on. But we have worked on an openness and transparency statement for a couple of years that is prepared to be signed with an agreement of understanding. I believe that the best way to get a more open dialouge is the vote. That voters become more informed about who they are voting for and know where they really stand. Our elected officials have gone so long without much backlash and lack of concern from the citizenry. Now that citizens are stepping up and want to have understanding and voice in the matters of We the People, elected officials seem to have trouble with involvement. Not all but I believe there are too many not wanting to hear. Dialogue and Deliberation is talking , listening and hearing. Working together through our democracy. We have come a long way here but more has to take place. Like I tell them it is one day at a time. We cannot change it over night, to many years of operation has taken place.

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