Transition Idea: A National Dialogue

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A number of advocacy groups that promote greater citizen engagement are calling on the next president to actively engage citizens in a national dialogue on key issues facing America.  Positive language to this effect has been included in both the Democratic and Republican party platforms and discussed by the candidates themselves.  So there’s a good chance this will be on the next Administration’s agenda.

How would you actively engage one million or more citizens in ways they can be heard – and can hear each other?  One approach, obviously, will be through the use of the Internet.  What are the logistics involved for the federal government to do something like this?  This has not been worked out well.  But a pilot is being launched next week to test it out so it can be ready to go for the next president. 

What’s more, you can participate in the pilot!

Starting next Monday, October 27th, a first-of-its-kind, online-only dialogue will be held on the issue of health information technology and personal privacy.   The hope is that this on-line dialog will help address a key issue:  “How can we use information technology to improve the way patients interact with the healthcare system, while safeguarding their right to privacy?”  Increased uses of technology have the ability to reduce costs and errors, and improve healthcare.  But there are concerns about tradeoffs with personal privacy.

Register at:  www.thenationaldialogue.org

This dialogue is being jointly sponsored by National Academy for Public Administration (NAPA), the Federal CIO Council, the Office of Management and Budget, and the General Services Administration.  It is being facilitated by AmericaSpeaks and Delib, two non-partisan expert organizations engaging in citizen engagement and public deliberation.

Says NAPA project director Lena Trudeau, “the dialogue is designed to highlight points of agreement and emerging themes, guiding participants to consensus in real time.”  Because of the short timeline for this effort, and the fact that this is the height of the presidential campaign, the scale of the effort will likely be small.  But the biggest part of the idea is to test out the ability to create and manage this kind of a capability for the next Administration.

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UPDATE:  Federal Computer Week published a story on this on Oct. 23 — “OMB Sponsors Online Discussion of Privacy Issues.”

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