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Thank you, Clay, for pointing out the pattern that was obvious to many of us, being outside the fishbowl, long before the OpenGov Directive was even issued at the end of 2009. The good-news/bad-news is this: BAD - The "end of the beginning" took more than two years to shake-out (with less than two to go in Obama's term). GOOD - At least it's finally beginning to dawn on many OpenGov-ers NOW (rather than later) that, although using data-sets are important, they are not crucial to moving forward. As Myrna said above, most citizens are looking for "meaningful community problem-solving". They want to know (1) What's Going On, and (2) When Do I Get to Speak? I know that, because in 2002, after 25 years in D.C., I moved back to my hometown (on Cape Cod, Mass.) and involved myself in local government. After a few years of citizen committee work, I even ran a couple times for "Selectman" (equiv. to Town Councilor). So when the Open Government Memorandum came out, I was ready to share both my perspectives on Citizen Engagement: (1) as a Federal bureaucrat overseeing my agencies' (five of them) compliance for "public participation", and (2) as a Town committee member trying to engage my fellow citizens in the drafting of our Long-Range Town Plan (among other things). Yes, I participated online in the so-called "OpenGov Dialogue", but I spent 2009 watching from afar to see a slew of OpenGov/"Gov2.0" conferences that looked just like those in the latter 1990s when everyone (esp. contractors) got SO EXCITED about how "E-Gov" would improve "citizen-government interaction" (e.g., click on a web-link to renew your license). Woo-hoo! They convinced themselves that it qualified as "Reinventing Government". (Not!) So I will be attending "TransparencyCamp" in D.C. (Apr.30-May 1) to see if the "new crowd" has calmed down enough to consider the perspectives of those with years more experience in engaging the public in the "real world". And, basically, isn't it that type of open-mindedness that OpenGov is supposed to be about?
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Dear Anil, I always wince when I hear people talk about how a blog is a great way to have a "conversation". And it could be that you may respond to 99% of the comments left on your blog-postings. But, all I can gather from the lack of a response to my comment posted almost a years ago, is that, like most bloggers, what YOU want to say is more important than the response from others. I sincerely hope that this is not the case here, but that is up to you to clear up. vr, Stephen Buckley
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Dear Brade Blake, It looks like your office set up this "feedback" blog in August 2009 (or earlier). As of November 2010 (i.e., over the course of 15 months), you have gotten 5 people -- in the whole world -- to provide feedback to you. And, of those five, none could really be considered a "discussion-thread". Maybe the relative absence of feedback means that, as you said a year ago (10/20/09), you ARE doing the "best" job possible, so that there is no need for people to provide feedback. Or, more likely, your "best" efforts (thus far) have not been good enough to engage more than 5 people in providing feedback to you. Maybe you should be more open to the possibility that there may be a few willing citizens out there who have a deeper and broader experience with online discussions than you do. And, after all, isn't the primary reason for improving citizen engagement so that the people inside the government get to hear about ideas from "outside the bubble"? vr, Stephen Buckley P.S. Like the majority of people with Internet access, I don't use RSS, so please let me know of any response here by email. ------ Jess Weiss responds: Thank you Stephen for taking the time to post your thoughts here. You are correct. We don't have as much engagement on this blog as we might like. (We have actually had 115 comments submitted to the blog since its start). That said, we work to stay connected with our citizens through many different forums. As you may recall, we had in person Town Hall meetings in 2008, 2009 and 2010, we had a collaborative online budget forum in 2009, we engaged in a budget and fiscal information tour in 2009, and we continue to maintain an active presence on this blog, on Twitter and on other social media platforms. Additionally, we stay connected by phone, by US mail and by email through the dedicated work of our Constituent Services Office. We are working to engage people where they are. This administration always has and continues to value the participation of its citizens. We want all residents to find ways to stay connected and influence government. Whether it is through blog comments like yours, tweets, letters to the editor, attending public meetings or connecting in various other ways, we welcome and encourage public participation. As the Governor has said many times, an active citizenry betters our communities and our government.Thanks again for your feedback.
Toggle Commented Nov 29, 2010 on Feedback at Commonwealth Conversations: Engage!
Speaking as a former federal employee, here are my thoughts/questions about the SAVE Initiative: If 38,000 suggestions were submitted by federal employees, but only four (4) were selected for voting by the public, then what happens to all the rest? That is, if the SAVE Initiative is being "taken seriously", then what happens now to the remaining 37,996 ideas? Granted, OMB may use "some" of them later on, but if federal employees see that over 99% of their submitted ideas go into a black hole, then what message does that send? And, just for the sake of discussion, let's say that "only" 1,000 ideas (out of 38,000) had real potential for substantial savings. So, then, what is the purpose of figuring out which one is the "BEST idea" when ALL of those "top-1,000" ideas can save money? Does there have to be a "winner" (a la American Idol) as if this were some type of competition? No, there does not unless, of course, this is trying to be marketed to the public in an simplistic, entertaining way. Many federal employees will recognize that aspect of the SAVE Initiative, and when they are asked for more ideas, in the future, the number will be much, much LESS than 38,000. ALSO: I'm wondering whether the online system allowed federal employees the option of remaining anonymous. It can be very dangerous to one's career to point out inefficiencies in one's office. Many bosses tend to look at that as open criticism of their management.
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Glad to see that Business Week (and you) are catching up with me. I pointed to the importance of Jeff Zients (Chief Performance Office) in my blog ... five months ago. But, hey, that kind of foresight you can only get from 25 years in D.C. And while I give an "A" for effort, people should not expect a MSM reporter or "rock star" panelist to *really* grasp the barriers to improving the work of Govt.
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Nov 21, 2009