The Open Gov Challenge – Get Involved!

As part of the Obama administration’s Open Government Directive, dozens of federal agencies are scrambling to put together “open government” plans. In an amazing example of how fast Gov 2.0 ideas, tools and ideals are taking hold in the federal space, nearly all of the agencies are using the collaborative tool IdeaScale to allow citizens to submit, comment on and rank ideas for the open gov plans.
Now, there are plenty of things to criticize about this roll-out, but I’m truly excited that it’s happening. I just spend a little time looking through the ideas submitted to three agencies I find particularly important – Education, State, and the Office of Personnel Management. Many of the ideas submitted are far off topic of an open government plan (though highlighting the need for more of these sorts of initiatives in the policymaking arena). Education’s open gov team was doing a great job of working to bring the discussion back on topic – key to successful community collaboration efforts. This is clearly a work in progress, but I urge all open gov advocates to work over the next few weeks to help make this effort a success.
I’d like to highlight here an idea for each of these agencies that’s worthy of consideration and inclusion in their open government plans:
Education: “National program evaluation data should be public-access – basically a plea for raw survey data from contracted studies, a gimme for any serious open government effort. Vote it up!
State: “Promote the Development of Web 2.0 Solutions – social media outreach, collaboration and agile development for new programs, FTW! Vote it up!
OPM: “Employer Profiles 2.0 on – this recommendation includes making USAJOBS a hub of information “where a job seeker can get a solid overview of mission, culture and other benefits of employment.” It’s a good idea. Vote it up!
Agencies are taking comments until March 19, on the Web and also by phone, mail and in person. If you’ve got a great idea for one of the open gov plans, make it known. If it’s good stuff, I’ll be happy to use my networks to share it. Let’s not allow this opportunity go to waste.

More background:
The Open Government Directive (pdf)
OpenGov Tracker (aggregation of most of the .gov/open sites and their stats)
Gov 2.0 Radio discussion of the Open Gov IdeaScale initiative
GovFresh Open Gov Blog Challenge: Share your ideas to get more ideas

~ Adriel Hampton is a San Francisco public servant and producer of Gov 2.0 Radio.

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Vote for the Top Gov’t Tweeter; and for Gov’t Cheese

It was quite an fun week on the UserVoice front. I’ve written before about this easy-to-use crowdsourcing tool, but haven’t used it a terrible lot. Well, that all changed when Gywnne Kostin put me on a list for “Top Government Tweeter” nominations on a UserVoice campaign set up by the GSA’s Bev Godwin. I’m a total sucker for contests (a point accrual mechanism is one of the things I love about participation) and this was enough to get my competitive juices flowing.
Check out and vote in the contest here, and a short “vote for me” video here.
And that wasn’t it for the week of UserVoice. A couple evenings ago, spurred by discussion by Jake Brewer of the Sunlight foundation and FutureGov’s Dominic Campbell, I asked, “What cheese is gov’t like, and why?” Before you know it, the GSA’s Dan Munz has whipped up a new UserVoice poll, and #cheesygov was born. Vote, it’s fun 🙂

~ Adriel Hampton is a public servant and host of Gov 2.0 Radio.

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“Gov 2.0” is Here to Stay

You like those stories about the new words that make it into Webster’s each year, right? Well, I’m putting my Cal Rhetoric degree on the line to state that “Gov 2.0” is headed that way.

Plenty of smarter people have written a lot about the “language panel” at February’s Gov 2.0 LA Camp, which was more of a look at humanizing a movement that could easily devolve into a technocratic and ultimately narrow-minded clique than it was about trying to do away with jargon. But every now and then, we want to define our terms and argue about them, and this past weekend was as good a time to do that as any.

I want to cite quickly why I’m convinced the term “Gov 2.0” is here to stay.

First, the term is a semantic umbrella for several movements with real muscle: open government (in the sense of transparent decision-making, “sunshine”/”sunlight”); open source software in government; free release of data collected by governments, preferably in machine-readable format; social media in government; collaboration, crowdsourcing and prediction markets in government; and traditional “eGov” online services. Really, the term has already taken on a much broader meaning than even “Web 2.0.”

Next, I could cite the growing number of uncamps around Gov 2.0 or the fact that a growing number of public sector workers are embracing the term to describe their interest in shiny-cool government reform. Growing adoption of the term to describe a number of related and not-so-related initiatives and movements is part of the foundation for my opinion. But the key conversation that tipped me was a recent sit-down with Laurel Ruma, the chief Gov 2.0 evangelist for O’Reilly Media. Now, it might not agree with everything Tim O’Reilly says, but each time I’ve interacted with one of his company’s employees, I’ve come away impressed. O’Reilly Media is a serious company that picks its tech advocacy battles for the long haul – open source and Web 2.0 being the big ones – and with some great success. The fact that O’Reilly has staked a claim on Gov 2.0 and Ruma’s assertion that the company anticipates a decade-long evolution of the movement (O’Reilly’s definition is “gov as a platform“), give me faith that whatever tech-enabled reform good government folks are working on in 2015, it will still fall under the umbrella of Gov 2.0.

Last Saturday night, I was around bouncing Bill Grundfest’s Gov 2.0 LA language thoughts with Chris Heuer, co-founder of the Social Media Club. (Heuer’s definition is “technology making government better.”) Anyone who says “social media” with a straight face has already been in a few debates about the term, and staking his business model on it means Heuer’s been at the center of the blogwars over how to describe the ever-evolving world of zero-cost communications. With his frank style, Heuer explained that whatever arguments exist, at some point people just call something what they call it.

“Gov 2.0” may be a Rorschach blot, but it’s here to stay.

~ Adriel Hampton is a public servant and host of Gov 2.0 Radio. Sometimes he stays up late at night wondering how to pronounce periods, and what they mean for search trends.

Help Save My Friend’s Daughter. Become a Marrow Donor Today.

Usually this is a blog about tech-enabled government reform. However, today my close friend’s daughter is in the hospital, dying of leukemia after several rounds of chemotherapy gave her only a six-month reprieve from the disease. She URGENTLY needs a bone marrow donor match to live, and her most likely match will be found in the Asian community. You can find out more at Hope for Natalie. Thank you!

~ Adriel Hampton

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