Open Gov Directive: Progress to Date


The White House continues to pioneer a new approach to crafting policy by actively seeking public input.  The media seems a bit skeptical about how it is going, though, calling it “not so presidential” in part because of the many off-topic comments.  However that hadn’t deterred the pioneers!

Background.  Back in January, President Obama directed the development of an Open Government Directive that would guide agencies in being more transparent, participative with citizens, and collaborative.  That effort began in earnest in late May with the launch of a three-phase effortwhite-house-south-lawn1 to develop this policy with broad citizen input.

Phase I, which invited citizens to “brainstorm” on what should be covered by the directive, resulted in more than 4,100 ideas with thousands of citizens voting more than 210,000 times on their favorite ideas . . . but these included off-topic ideas not related to drafting a directive but rather releasing UFO files, JFK assassination files, President Obama’s “real” birth certificate, etc.

Phase II invited citizens to participate in a blog-based “dialogue” on key (on-topic) ideas that surfaced from the brainstorming phase.  And there were plenty, including videoing all public meeting and posting them on line, as well as creating a “citizen’s portal” that individuals could customize based on where they lived and their interests.

And now citizens are being invited to participate in Phase III, the “drafting” phase, to jointly craft recommendations that would be used by the White House to actually draft the final Directive.

Progress to date.  In each of the three phases, the White House relied on a different technology platform to engage with citizens.  This meant that participants had to re-register for each phase.  But it also served as a filtering process.  While thousands participated in the brainstorming phase, only about eight dozen have registered so far to participate in the final drafting phase.

The White House notes that the Drafting Phase run through midnight, Sunday, June 28th.  That wiki-based effort is organized around 16 sets of topics related to transparency, participation, and collaboration.  So if you want to participate, do it soon!  They recommend engaging earlier so others can review and vote on the best draft under each topic.

Open Government Blogging.  Probably the most interesting elements of this process, to date, have been a series of explanatory blog entries posted on the White House site “Open Government Blog” (really the Office of Science and Technology Policy, which is coordinating this initiative within the White House).  They provide a rich context for what is unfolding:


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