Citizen Engagement at NASA

May 12, 2014

Recently, the White House hosted Stakeholder Engagement Workshops—an informal meet-up for citizens and federal agencies to discuss progress on Open Government. The third version of our Open Gov Plan is due June 1st.

My Open Innovation teammates and I took the opportunity to attend the event. We gained valuable insights from citizen activists on what they want to see in agency plans, as well as how they will judge our progress on White House mandates for transparency, collaboration, and participation. We spoke with representatives from three organizations: the Center for Effective Government, the Government Accountability Project, and the Union of Concerned Scientists; shared our 2014 flagship initiatives; and received thoughtful guidance about how NASA can publish the best plan possible. We also received feedback from Creative Commons, who provided an opinion on the types of licensing models all federal agencies could consider.

The representative from the Center for Effective Government shared his interest in a number of topics, including the Freedom of Information Act, electronic records management, and centralized regulations. He informed us of several new interagency activities to create a government-wide one-stop-FOIA-shop. We discussed our flagship initiatives:, NASA’s Information Project, and the Asteroid Grand Challenge.

The representative from the Government Accountability Project shared a formal list of whistleblower activities of interest that should be included in NASA’s updated Open Gov plan. Among those activities are: NASA’s participation in the Office of Special Counsel’s Whistleblower Certification Program; implementation of the Presidential Directive on Protecting Whistleblowers with Access to Classified Information (PPD-19); and better awareness of NASA’s Inspector General Whistleblower Ombudsman Frank Larocca. They offer whistleblower training and consultation upon request by agencies.

The Union of Concerned Scientists is most concerned with scientific integrity, and produced a scorecard on federal scientists’ freedom to communicate openly.

The scorecard gives agencies two grades on agency media and social media policy: 1) the strength of official written media policies; and 2) how the agency implements the policy with federal scientists. The representative provided recommendations for NASA, including granting explicit rights of last review for all scientists, and also making publicly available the agency’s social media policy. We’ve identified NASA’s policy documents to add to the published report.

Our team is thankful for the opportunity to engage with concerned citizens who want our government to be open and accountable. We agree. We intend to reflect their comments in our report. Share your thoughts on our Open Gov 3.0 Plan.This post was originally published on the open.NASA blog by Beth Hochberg.