Thursday, February 5, 2009

Wiki-collaboration on Obama's "Open Government Directive"

Okay, I've been thinking about this for awhile, and so here's my idea.

As you may already know, President Obama, on his first full day in office (1/21/09) issued a "Presidential Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government" in which he says this:

"I direct the Chief Technology Officer, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Administrator of General Services, to coordinate the development by appropriate executive departments and agencies, within 120 days, of recommendations for an Open Government Directive, to be issued by the Director of OMB, that instructs executive departments and agencies to take specific actions implementing the principles set forth in this memorandum."

So that means that, between now and May 21st, some type of task force will be drafting up a list of suggestions about how the federal agencies of the U.S. government can be more transparent, participatory, and collaborative with the public.

And (this is not a wild guess) one thing that it will probably say is that "a great tool for collaborating with the public would be to use wikis".

So, if I'm a federal "wiki-evangelist" and I'm drafting a policy document (i.e., the Open Government Directive) that talks about how great it would be to use wikis for collaborating with the public, then shouldn't I put my final draft out on a wiki so that it can be improved by others, before I send it to the White House for signature?

Keep in mind that I'm not advocating some kind of absolute transparency where we put web-cams on the heads of the task force that drafts the Directive, but how about a 30-day public review and suggestion period (e.g., using a wiki) prior to its finalization for signature by the President?

THAT, more than anything else, would show citizens, including those that are federal employees, that the new leadership is willing to "walk the talk" or, in other words, "BE the Change!"

If you are interested in my updates on "wiki-collaboration" news with respect to development of the Open Government Directive, then please note that you can also stay abreast of this blog when you "subscribe-by-email" (see box, right-hand column).

P.S. This "walk the talk" suggestion is also made the National Academy for Public Administration (NAPA) in its recent white-paper "Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration" (see page 20 of 40: "Implementing a culture of collaboration will be a task primarily of leadership by example.").


UPDATE (2/20/09): I submitted this suggestion at the Sunlight Foundation's new "Our Open Government List" where you can vote for the best ideas for the "Open Gov't. Directive" (OGoD). You can vote for mine at

P.S. As a former fed, I still like acronyms. So ... What do federal executives say when they're told to use social-media and wikis to achieve "open-government"? ---> "OGoD!" (My invention, thank you.)