U.S. Public Participation Playbook progress

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Justin Herman - XAAA

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Dec 3, 2014, 4:42:58 PM12/3/14
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Hello Open Government Community, 

I hope this email finds you happy and productive. 

As many of you know, one week ago we released the initial draft of the U.S. Public Participation Playbook -- though as we're discovering, time passes differently the closer we inch towards the speed of light...

The initial response and contributions to the draft resource, which will combine best practices and performance metrics for agencies to use to build and evaluate public participation programs, has been nothing short of staggering -- in a very good way. Over the holiday week we've collected 60 comments alone from civil society leaders on Madison, even more in-depth contributions from email, and the energy continues to build. 

Internally, more than a dozen additional federal managers have signed up to participate in the working group in the last two days alone -- a very encouraging trend seeing managers run TOWARDS public participation and open government and not seeing it as mere risk. I actually have not been able to respond to all the requests yet today, for we want to ensure we keep participation meaningful for all who come to the table, even if we have to create a new approach to accommodate. Which we are, through so many of your valuable insights and recommendations.  

After discussion with the great team at OpenGov Foundation and their Madison platform team, we've adjusted to provide three phases of initial contribution before the actual launch of the playbook for widespread participation in January. Come Monday, we'll have a new draft of the playbook that seeks to confirm all comments, and reports when contribution led to direct action. We'll also announce the expansion of the working group due to popular demand, which may put federal collaborators alone up to 40 or 50. We will do the same the next Monday, then prepare to compile the final draft resource... which mind you, people will still be able to contribute to. 

I can't tell you how excited we are to see this come together, and through many of your efforts, see this valuable resource done right. Even witnessing the growth in how federal managers view the potential and future of public participation programs is powerful. So thank you to all of you who have taken part, and for those who have not been able to yet rest assured we have a seat at the table waiting for when you are, whether in these initial stages, or once the drafts are more firmed up in January. 

More questions or ideas? Let me know! In the meantime, there's work to be done. 

Best regards, 
Justin



Justin Herman

Federal-wide Social Media Program Lead

Office of Innovative Technologies: Department of DigitalGov

U.S. General Services Administration

Building the Government of the 21st Century


To join almost 800 digital managers across government in the #SocialGov Community, please email me with "Subscribe to #SocialGov" in the subject. 

Stephen Buckley

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Dec 11, 2014, 2:12:51 PM12/11/14
to US Open Government
Dear U.S. OpenGov email-group,

In Justin Herman's email last week (Dec. 3, see below), he informed us that the process for public commenting on the Draft Public Participation Playbook had been "adjusted" so that, now, a second draft would be available on this past Monday (Dec. 8th) for public review/comment and, then again, for a third draft on this coming Monday (Dec. 15th).

No, you did not miss the email about the second draft.  There was no email sent to this email-group after the "2nd Draft" was made available this past Monday.  However, ICYMI, there was this posting on Monday to a GSA blog:

"2nd U.S. Public Participation Playbook Draft Responds to Public Contributions"
by Justin Herman, December 8, 2014
http://www.digitalgov.gov/2014/12/08/2nd-u-s-public-participation-playbook-draft-responds-to-public-contributions/

So now, on Thursday, I just took a look at this new, 2nd Draft including the latest comments that will be used to issue the 3rd Draft this coming Monday (Dec. 15th) with due-date for final comments being 2 days later (Dec. 17th).  Thus far, there is only 1 person participating (i.e., providing comments) who does not work for the federal government.  The other two people who are participating are GSA (federal) employees.

The low level of participation, thus far, should not be taken by the GSA or the White House as evidence of widespread agreement with the "Draft Playbook" by the Public Participation community (e.g., NCDD, IAP2-USA, ICMA, etc.).

Of course, we can talk -- here, in this group -- about this and other indications and reasons for this (non-)engagement, but an email-group can only accommodate a small number of topic-threads at any one time, especially when one topic (like this one) will be ongoing.  That is why this topic warrants its own email-group, as a branch off of the larger #OpenGov group discussion.

As such, I would like to invite people (especially those who rely more on email than tweets) who are particularly interested in Public Participation "best practices and metrics" to join the "OpenGovMetrics" email-group.  The group is moderated (by me), so I will limit the postings to those that are on-topic, civil, and provide interesting information or insight on #OpenGov "best practices and metrics".  ("Me, too" messages won't qualify.)

And if you want to introduce this option to other people, i.e., those who are new to this discussion on evaluating Public Participation, then I have written a post that attempts to explain the current situation (e.g., the "Draft Playbook" process) as well as how they can join that discussion or, at the very least, keep themselves informed about "what's going on".  https://groups.google.com/d/msg/opengovmetrics/ty3lTW8DiWk/3ynZd6wxU5YJ

Of course, if there is special news about the practice and evaluation of #OpenGov, i.e., when it is especially significant to #OpenGov in the U.S. or general, then I would share that information here on this email-group.  (Example: A message when the final document on "best practices and metrics" is available.)

So, let us see how we might open up, i.e., broaden and deepen our public dialogue and relationships .. about how we can do better at that very same thing.  Remember: "Open is the new default setting."

To participate by email, send any message to: opengovmetrics +subscribe@googlegroups. com

sincerely,

Stephen Buckley
collaboration engineer
Cape Cod, Mass.
@ OpenGovMetrics
24/7 phone: +1-508-348-9090
Skype: opengov


P.S.  Although I am #OpenGov liaison for IAP2-USA (the U.S. chapter of the International Association for Public Participation), this message is my own, and does not necessarily reflect an official position of the IAP2-USA.


==================================================


At 04:42 PM 12/3/2014, Justin Herman - XAAA wrote:
Hello Open Government Community,Â

I hope this email finds you happy and productive.Â

As many of you know, one week ago we released the initial draft of the U.S. Public Participation Playbook -- though as we're discovering, time passes differently the closer we inch towards the speed of light...

The initial response and contributions to the draft resource, which will combine best practices and performance metrics for agencies to use to build and evaluate public participation programs, has been nothing short of staggering -- in a very good way. Over the holiday week we've collected 60 comments alone from civil society leaders on Madison, even more in-depth contributions from email, and the energy continues to build.Â

Internally, more than a dozen additional federal managers have signed up to participate in the working group in the last two days alone -- a very encouraging trend seeing managers run TOWARDS public participation and open government and not seeing it as mere risk. I actually have not been able to respond to all the requests yet today, for we want to ensure we keep participation meaningful for all who come to the table, even if we have to create a new approach to accommodate. Which we are, through so many of your valuable insights and recommendations. Â

After discussion with the great team at OpenGov Foundation and their Madison platform team, we've adjusted to provide three phases of initial contribution before the actual launch of the playbook for widespread participation in January. Come Monday, we'll have a new draft of the playbook that seeks to confirm all comments, and reports when contribution led to direct action. We'll also announce the expansion of the working group due to popular demand, which may put federal collaborators alone up to 40 or 50. We will do the same the next Monday, then prepare to compile the final draft resource... which mind you, people will still be able to contribute to.Â

I can't tell you how excited we are to see this come together, and through many of your efforts, see this valuable resource done right. Even witnessing the growth in how federal managers view the potential and future of public participation programs is powerful. So thank you to all of you who have taken part, and for those who have not been able to yet rest assured we have a seat at the table waiting for when you are, whether in these initial stages, or once the drafts are more firmed up in January.Â

More questions or ideas? Let me know! In the meantime, there's work to be done.Â

Best regards,Â
Justin



Justin Herman

Federal-wide Social Media Program Lead

Office of Innovative Technologies: Department of DigitalGov

U.S. General Services Administration

Building the Government of the 21st Century

To join almost 800 digital managers across government in the #SocialGov Community, please email me with "Subscribe to #SocialGov" in the subject.Â

Justin Herman - XAAA

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Dec 11, 2014, 2:37:01 PM12/11/14
to Stephen Buckley, US Open Government
Hi Stephen, 

My apologies if there was confusion of this, please allow me to clarify some points. 
  • We provided the option for contribution, as you know, via Madison, email or even in-person. Yesterday, for example, I spent more than two hours talking with NCDD and OpenGov Foundation, today we exchanged comments with Tina, etc. The reason there's less on Madison is because the discussions have been based largely on structural issues, not just content. Our measure of success is not volume of comments -- its effectiveness of participation to deliver a resource agencies can use to assess their programs with best practices and suggested metrics. That can be achieved through comments on Madison, it can be achieved through discussion, and we will open the door for however a civil society group feels comfortable participating. As we have in the draft resource, we must maintain multiple paths to participation and multiple tiers of participation. 
  • In the next draft, we're focusing on wrapping up the brainstorming phase, and making the content streamlined, plain language and actionable. From there, we'll be working with folks like Wayne, Matt and Seamus who provided substantial thoughts on how we could better structure the resource. 
If you have any more questions, please just let me know -- the door is always open and there's always a seat waiting at the table. Below my signature block you'll find additional clarification I sent to civil society stakeholder earlier today based on our feedback sessions this week. I hope this helps, and thank you. 

Best regards, 
Justin

Justin Herman

Federal-wide Social Media Program Lead

Office of Innovative Technologies: Department of DigitalGov

U.S. General Services Administration

Building the Government of the 21st Century


To join almost 800 digital managers across government in the #SocialGov Community, please email me with "Subscribe to #SocialGov" in the subject. 


How did we approach the playbook?
First, we of course start with the White House National Action Plan on Open Government, which mandates:

1. Improve Public Participation in Government
In the first NAP, the Administration expanded opportunities for public participation in government,
recognizing the value of the American public as a strategic partner in solving some of the country’s
most difficult challenges. The United States is committed to continuing to expand public participation in
government and will: 
Publish Best Practices and Metrics for Public Participation. In the first National Action Plan, 
the Administration committed to identify best practices for public participation in government
and to suggest metrics that would allow agencies to assess progress toward this goal. Over the
past two years, the Administration consulted with the public, civil society stakeholders, and
academics on how best to implement this initiative from the first National Action Plan. In 2014,
the United States will continue these efforts and publish best practices and metrics for public
participation.

That's the mission, and we chose to accept it: best practices + suggested metrics for agencies to assess progress

But what if we could do more? We checked out a report called "Priorities for Public Participation and Open Government Recommendations to President Obama," one I think you are quite familiar with, and decided to try to proactively address additional recommendations made by your civil society organizations -- anything worth doing is worth doing right.

Here's some that particularly seemed applicable:
  • Recommendations about Metrics for Assessing Participation
    • Encourage agencies to work with civil society organizations and academic institutions to assess the impacts of participation on communities and their civic infrastructure. 
  • Help agencies develop the internal capacity to do participation.
    • Support communities of practice across agencies. There is a critical need to find and convene people doing participatory work (in all of its forms) so they can engage in peer-to-peer learning, share ideas and best practices, generate innovations, and sustain momentum beyond the tenure of this Administration and other political changes.
    • Create a platform that collects and reports stories of success, models of best practice, and innovations in participation at all levels of government and across civil society. (this is the big one)
  • Raise the bar for participation formats and use a wider variety of participation methods, including in-person, online, mobile app, and hybrid arrangements.
    • Agencies should be encouraged to experiment with participatory approaches, including those that use two-way and deliberative communication, and those that give higher level of shared decision making authority to participants. At a minimum, agencies should be encouraged to explain how public input will be used and explore how to better connect public input to agency decision making.
    • The White House should encourage agencies to strengthen ties to universities and civil society organizations that have experience with and knowledge about participation and that train technical and public administration officials. Shared sponsorship of participatory efforts should be investigated.
That's why instead of just a white paper hashed out, we have a robust community of federal managers, early collaboration with civil society groups, shared sponsorship of the contribution process through OpenGov Foundation's Madison, and a framework that isn't just built to expand with training opportunities, piloting and more -- we're planning on it. 

There's a lot of different ways to approach all of this. Given GSA's focus on customer service and without losing sight of our core mandate to combine best practices and suggested metrics for agencies to use, the basic approach was determined by asking 30 federal managers what it would take for a resource to be valuable enough for them to actually use... not just fitting the bill of the mandate, but extending beyond to ensure federal managers legitimately use the resource to institutionalize better public participation programs. 

Why is it called a playbook?
Some are getting hung up on the name playbook, what does it mean, what should a playbook look like in the true essence of a football playbook, etc. Background: we called it a playbook because the managers we want to use the resource said they liked the clean format of the U.S. Digital Services Playbook -- that's all. No deeper meaning, the name just stuck, it could have been called a toolkit. Seamus likes the term Field Manual -- heck, it can be the Public Participation Recipe Book/Bodega/Top 40 Countdown, as what we approached during this stage as most important is its function -- we can always adjust the name later. If you saw how my Fantasy Football team performed this year you wouldn't want us pursuing a football style playbook anyhow. 

Why are the plays structured the way they are?
Those 30 federal managers who served as our initial focus group, decided that rather than break this down topically (such as Townhall, Website, etc) wanted to create a baseline of universal plays that any program on-or-offline should consider. In this way, the playbook/field manual/toolkit would immediately speak to the widest, most inclusive field of potential users. Then, we can and should build more from there in January, whether specializing in different aspects (on vs offline), different languages (Spanish), or different target audiences (refined for federal/international/state and local/grassroots, etc). 

Wayne, Matt and Seamus have been extremely helpful in suggesting how we can rearrange the structure a bit to make it more deliverable and effective. Awesome -- again, we're not attached to any preconceived notion of what a resource has or has not been branded as in the past -- the past it to be learned from, but not bound by. Agenda 1: create something that achieves the vision of your recommendations and fits the needs of agencies. Agenda 2: everything else. 

What are the next steps?
As you know, its time to adjourn the open brainstorming phase and cook this down to a clean, built-for-action format that makes more transparent how communities can build from here. Here's how we're going to do that for the final rough draft next week:
  • Each Checklist will be just that -- actionable items. No open questions, half thoughts, half sentences, all momentum building items. 
  • Performance Metrics -- all streamlined, actionable, and reflective of the Checklist items
  • Case studies -- if they do not directly reflect the checklist and performance metrics, they fall to the delete key. 
  • Editorial voice -- someone noted the draft reads like 20 different people were writing it. That's because 30+ people were -- however, for next week we'll have a unified, plain language voice for easier comprehension. 
What are the steps after the next steps?
  1. Once we cook this down, adjust the structure, the most valuable thing your groups can do is help provide better case studiesfrom across the spectrum. It's been noted that those provided seem digital-heavy... which is because our volunteer team is digital heavy, but thats just one of the reasons we have an open tent for wide contribution -- your participation will in no uncertain terms make this resource better. 
  2. We're going to release the first official foundation of the resource in early January -- and we build from there. If you think this is one of those occasions where we add a comment box to the finished product and call it a day until the next resource, that would be incorrect. 
    • While unofficial at the moment, its highly likely we'll be adding a specialist from GSA's Emerging Leader Program to our office, and one of his main responsibilities will be helping coordinate, analyze and implement new additions to our resources, such as integrating evaluations, training programs, and community building. We don't just intend to build from here -- we're planning for it. 
    • We've posted in the Open Opportunities program a role for SocialGov Test Pilot, which will pursue the piloting and reporting of innovations such as the recommendations in the public participation playbook/field manual/resource. That's just one community, and one aspect of public participation, but its a start and one we're very excited to build from.
My apologies for the lengthy email, but if you're taking the time to contribute such great ideas to ensure the success of this program, I need to take the time to make sure they are addressed, and you aren't encumbered by things we already plan to work with you to change. 

Please continue to let us know what's what -- and in the coming days expect to hear more and be asked more about meaningful restructuring. 

Thank you so much again for everything you do, have done, and will hopefully be on board for in the coming weeks/months/years. This has become more than just a playbook or resource now, this is the commitment of a community with a long path ahead -- please think on where we can go, and think big. 








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Justin Herman - XAAA

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Dec 11, 2014, 4:04:38 PM12/11/14
to Stephen Buckley, US Open Government
Something I hope may be able to frame this comes from commentary you submitted, Stephen, in an open letter to Aneesh Chopra in 2012 when this deliverable was first called for:

"Consider these various levels of government/public consultation (from lowest to highest):

1. No request for public Input prior to Decision.

2. Request for public Input prior to Decision.

3. Same as #2, and also the proposed Decision is offered for public Feedback.

4. Same as #3, and also a summary of how public Feedback influenced final Decision.

5. Same as #4, and additional chances for public collaboration prior to final Decision."


While this team was not on the project in 2012 and I cannot speak for back then, we can speak for those who stepped up to try and deliver the highest level you identified in government/public consultation:

1. Request public feedback.
2. Follow through and open the proposed resource to public feedback.
3. Summarize how public feedback is influencing the final decision.
4. Provide additional chances for public collaboration prior to the final decision.

And additionally, there is no "final decision" because this is a living document and resource that will continue to evolve and grow with the needs of those who use it -- the feedback loops will continue in excess of the five points made. 

We took ideas, experiences and previous comments like this very seriously in designing our approach and in our research -- while there is still much work to do, we hope our civil society partners will continue working with us to improve the processes and deliver the most valuable best practices and suggested metrics resource for agencies. 

Thanks again, and please remember the door, phone and computer are always open!

Best, 
Justin



Justin Herman

Federal-wide Social Media Program Lead

Office of Innovative Technologies: Department of DigitalGov

U.S. General Services Administration

Building the Government of the 21st Century


To join almost 800 digital managers across government in the #SocialGov Community, please email me with "Subscribe to #SocialGov" in the subject. 

Tim Bonnemann

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Dec 16, 2014, 12:23:32 AM12/16/14
to us-open-g...@googlegroups.com, sbuc...@igc.org
Hi Justin,

Thanks for sharing additional background/context.

Just an FYI, I consider myself someone who's been trying to follow this process as closely as possible, and I just saw this post today (four days late).

Tim

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Ted Ritzer

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Oct 9, 2015, 3:29:56 PM10/9/15
to US Open Government
Hi Justin
I have posted a link to a slideshare I did that I believe is relevant to your work on public participation, and it includes some insights from lead developers from Google, Cisco and Hookflash re the new WebRTC browser standard that I believe empowers public participation:

Sincerely

Ted Ritzer

Justin Herman - XAAA

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Oct 9, 2015, 3:32:33 PM10/9/15
to Ted Ritzer, US Open Government
Thank you so much Ted -- we're looking forward to updating soon with more input and feedback and will certainly take a good look!

Justin Herman

U.S. Federal SocialGov lead

General Services Administration: Office of Citizen Services + Innovative Technologies / 18F


**To join more than 1000 digital managers and 170 programs across government in the #SocialGov Community, an inter-agency collaborative community supporting the development of better engagement programs, email me. 



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