Tuesday, March 23, 2010

OpenGovRadio 3/23/10: "Citizen Collaboration" - How's It Working?

Here's what we'll talk about on OpenGovRadio during this week's show (2-3pm ET, Tuesday, March 23rd). We invite you to listen and, if you wish, join the conversation by calling in with your comments and questions (917) 388-4210.

OpenGov "Citizen Collaboration":  How's it Working?

This past Friday, March 19th, was the closing date for citizens to offer their ideas for "open government" at 27 federal agencies.  Most agencies followed the White House's example and used the same "citizen engagement tool" that was offered during last summer's "Open Government Dialogue", while the the rest used other tools.

So, it seems like a good time to ask:  "How has it been working?"

We'll be talking with Dan Munz, a "Public Dialogue Specialist" on the Citizen Engagement Team at the GSA (General Services Administration) which has been offering services and training for its "citizen engagement tool" to federal agencies.  Before coming to the GSA, Mr. Munz worked at the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) on its Collaboration Project, described as "a 'wikified' space is designed to share ideas, examples and insights on the adoption of Web 2.0 technologies in the field of public governance."

Also, joining us will be Stephen Konieczka with whom, during our March 2nd show, we had a short discussion about the White House's "Open Government Dialogue" last May and June.  His paper (along with two other authors; see below) appeared in a special issue of the Int'l. Journal of Public Participation about the Obama administration's "Open Government" initiative.

Stephen Konieczka is a fifth year doctoral candidate in the University of Colorado, Boulder, Department of Communication. His primary scholarship foci are in group communication, communication theory and philosophy, and qualitative methods of inquiry. In his paper (see link below), his evaluation is based on the "Core Values for the Practice of Public Participation" adopted by the International Assn. for Public Participation (IAP2).

1.  "Practicing a Participatory Presidency?: An Analysis of the Obama Administration’s Open Government Dialogue" by Stephen P. Konieczka (prior to issuance of Open Government Directive, 12/8/09).
Abstract.   Early in his presidency, Barack Obama promised the most open and transparent administration in United States history (Obama, 2009). This article assesses that commitment in practice by examining the Obama administration’s “Open Government Dialogue” (OGD), a six-week, online public participation experiment conducted in the summer of 2009.

Through the lens of the International Association of Public Participation’s “Core Values of Public Participation,” the author considers the extent to which the design and processes of the OGD reflected the administration’s stated commitment to public participation in government decision making. Based on an analysis of participant contributions during the OGD, and the reflections and critiques among public participation advocates and practitioners outside the formal channels of the OGD, it is concluded the OGD was a poorly designed and facilitated participatory experiment falling far short of the administration’s pronouncements about its commitment to public participation.

Although this general conclusion is troubling, that the administration undertook such a large, unmandated participatory experiment, suggests it will continue to engage in public participation experiments. This article proceeds from a position of assistance to the administration and the public in learning from the mistakes and shortcomings of the OGD, as well as its successes.

In the final analysis, the administration needs to better translate its expressed support of public participation into concrete practices through a stronger understanding of the purposes and design of public participation. The public, especially participation advocates and practitioners must decide whether to exert pressure on the administration to demonstrate in practice an understanding of public participation in government decision making as a right.

2.  Federal agencies using "Citizen Engagement Tools"

3. White House's "Open Government Dialogue" - May/June 2009

a.  Phase 1 - Brainstorming
b.  Phase 2 - Discussion (link is inactive)
c.  Phase 3 - Drafting

4. The Collaboration Project of the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA)

5.  Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR) - Sept. 2009

6.  President's Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government (1/21/09)

7.  White House's Open Government Directive (12/8/09)

8.  The IAP2's "Core Values for the Practice of Public Participation"

9.  User Survey/Evaluation of "Open Government Dialogue" - presented at White House (October 2009)

10.  ParticipationDB - Tim Bonnemann's catalog of Online Participation Tools

11.  Not responding to suggestions increases cynicism. "A Test of Leadership"  (GovExec.com, 3/17/10)

12.  The First Web-forum for Public Comment on a Proposal by U.S. Govt. (S. Buckley, June 1997)

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