Participation lacking from open government plans

Federal agencies' open government plans all say they want public participation, but few describe how staff will include public input in the decision-making process, finds a report from Washington, D.C.-based non-profit AmericaSpeaks. The report, funded by the IBM Center for the Business of Government, notes that participation and collaboration, as well as transparency, are principles called for by the Open Government Initiative started by the Obama administration. Transparency has been the primary emphasis, the report allows. In fact, although agency open government plans were supposed to, at the White House's direction, pave the way for a more participatory federal government, "most plans do not provide enough information to assess whether the public's input will be incorporated into plans, programs, or decisions," the report says. It's often unclear what the relationship is between agency "participation activities"--such as social media usage or crowdsourcing--and actual decision making. Or, even if there is a relationship at all, since more often than not agency plans "are silent on this question," the report says. Existing, formal participation mechanisms such as federal advisory committees and the e-rulemaking process do have a real connection with policymaking, the report says, but adds that those forums act as an influence channel for experts, advocates and organized stakeholders rather than the general public. In addition, the open government plans mostly don't address whether agencies solicit input on those issues the public cares the most about. "Government is only truly open if public participation activities are transparently linked to decision-making," the report says. For more: - download the report, "Assessing Public Participation in an Open Government Era" from the IBM Center for the Business of Government website (.pdf) Related Articles: Agency politics can reduce opening data to a communications exercise White House visitor logs imperfect transparency tool Obama orders agencies to make regulatory process more open and transparent
This entry was posted in Featured Stories. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.