Open Government Recipe for Success

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This week the Whitehouse released its long awaited Open Government Directive.  The 11 page document outlines the tactical plan to deliver a more transparent, participatory and collaborative government that President Obama issued the first day he took over the oval office.

With the holiday season under way and everyone busy pulling out their favorite family recipes as well as trying new ones, I would like to break down the document into a recipe for success that converts the Open Government Directive into some simple, straight forward points. Consider it an outline of the key deliverables (ingredients) and real world best practices (directions) on how to serve up an Open Government feast that will have other government agency’s asking for your recipe.

The Ingredients:

  • Modern technology to disseminate useful information proactively rather than waiting for a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA).
  • Three high-value data sets registered via data.gov within 45 days.
  • Agency specific Open Government web experience that allows for collaboration (two-way interactions) between the citizens and the agency within 60 days.
  • A capability that helps citizens provide input on what information is most important to them.
  • An Open Government Plan that outlines how your agency will improve transparency, citizen participation and collaboration within 120 days.
  • Knowledge that is searchable and relevant based on citizen engagement.
  • The ability to receive citizen feedback on the agency’s Open Government Plan.

Directions:

Start by assigning a senior level representative that will be held accountable for ensuring and maximizing the quality of your agency’s information.

Next determine your three high-value data sets and your agency’s Open Government Plan.  To help narrow down the data sets review the historical FOIA and other requests that you have received from citizens.  Also review the existing data sets currently released on data.gov to see what knowledge is most popular. But don’t finalize until you get citizen feedback that your agency’s choices meet the needs of the citizens.

Establish a knowledge foundation that centralizes all of your data.  This will allow you to provide accurate, consistent and immediate information to citizens.  Once you establish the knowledge foundation, expose this information to citizens via a multi-channel (search, email, live chat and self-service) web experience.  Citizens can now interact with you anytime through different channels for various reasons.  It’s important to point out these channels should be integrated and leverage the same knowledge foundation.

Next, enhance the web experience by adding a social channel, which includes forums and communities.  This will be another way to promote citizen-to-citizen and government-to-citizen collaboration.

When these capabilities are in place, listen to citizens by soliciting feedback on your three high-value data sets.  At this point you can finalize your three high-value data sets and register them via data.gov.

Once your knowledge foundation starts to self-learn based on citizen interaction you can begin to proactively engage instead of just reacting to FOIA and other requests.

Finally, leverage the benefits of lower cost, rapid deployment, on demand scalability, and immediate adoption of innovation that cloud computing offers.  Do not compromise security and be sure to demand that your cloud provider has dedicated government datacenters built on the NIST 853 baseline and provides you with the required certification and accreditation artifacts.

Serve and enjoy as you have just met the deadlines and improved your agency’s ability to engage with citizens. Just as with any recipe exchange, I encourage you to share your favorite recipe for an Open Government below in the comment. What has or hasn’t worked for you and which ingredients did you change as a result?

RightNow has been helping federal agencies implement customer portals and Open Government projects for over 10 years. Today RightNow has assisted over 170 federal departments at every executive cabinet level agency and every branch of DoD. Because of this vast experience and RightNow’s cloud computing delivery model, Open Government Directive compliant solutions can be implemented very quickly and efficiently.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kevin Paschuck
As Vice President of Public Sector, Kevin leads all RightNow sales activity which includes Federal Civilian Government, Department of Defense, Intelligence Community, Higher Education and State & Local Government. He has been a leader in information technology sales and sales management for more than 12 years.

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