(Apologies for cross-posting.)
This summer the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution published my paper, Making Public Community Media Accessible, which looks at the future of Public, Educational, and Governmental (PEG) Access Media, arguably the most expensive Federally mandated program to enhance local public participation and government transparency. (For the Federal law, see the Communications Act of 1934, Section 611.)
The paper argues that governments should redesign the tens of thousands of public meeting spaces in government buildings to facilitate the automation of public meeting coverage. Although the paper focuses on the local level of government, its recommendations also apply to the Federal level. In particular, the U.S. General Services Administration, which manages 8,300 Federal buildings, should mandate a more cost effective information architecture for the public meeting rooms in which the approximately 1,000 Federal advisory committees meet as well as many other public committees, commissions, and workshops. Laws mandating public meeting sunshine, such as for ex parte meetings, should also be rewritten in light of the increasingly favorable video economics.
Although the paper doesn’t mention the White House’s Open Government Plan, expected to be released by late September, I’d recommend that the White House include a proposal to upgrade government public meeting spaces to make video and other fidelity meeting coverage more affordable. I’ve included below a copy of my recommendation sent to the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, which is soliciting ideas for the Open Government Plan at ope...@ostp.gov.
As I say in my email to the White House, let’s take cost away as an excuse for not webcasting and recording public meetings.
J.H. (“Jim”) Snider, Ph.D.
Phone: (202) 540-0505
During the 2011-2012 academic year, I am a non-residential Network Fellow at Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics.
From: J.H. Snider
Sent: Thursday, September 01, 2011 10:14 AM
Subject: A proposal to modernize public meeting spaces across Federal agencies
Dear Messrs. Chopra and Sunstein:
Thank you for your White House blog post soliciting ideas for the U.S. Open Government Plan.
I recommend that the White House include in its open government plan a proposal to modernize public meeting spaces at Federal agencies. What I have in mind is technology that would allow public bodies, such as the approximately 1,000 Federal advisory committees, the ability to turn on webcasting with the flip of a switch or at least something much more cost effective than today’s labor intensive webcasting meeting room technology. The President has already endorsed webcasting Federal advisory committee meetings, so this would merely be a way to help move that agenda forward.
The specific way I would implement this agenda would be to ask GSA’s Administrator to design new media specs for public meeting spaces at Federal agencies. The GSA is already implementing such technologies as part of its effort to bolster telework across the Federal government, so in some sense I’m merely suggesting another reason to continue that existing effort.
This summer the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution published a paper of mine that touches on these issues. The paper, Making Public Community Media Accessible, focuses on the local level of government, where there are tens of thousands of public meeting rooms. But the need for automating media in public meeting rooms is also relevant at the Federal level.
Let’s take cost away as an excuse for not webcasting and recording public meetings.
J.H. (“Jim”) Snider, Ph.D.