2nd U.S. Public Participation Playbook Draft Responds to Public Contributions

The new second draft of the U.S. Public Participation Playbook incorporates changes that were proposed from nearly 100 suggestions submitted after the first week of public comment, with more improvements to come. We still need your contributions for this groundbreaking new collaborative resource to measurably improve our participatory public services across government, and would like to take this opportunity to share what we have learned so far.

To start, let’s map out what the U.S. Public Participation Playbook is, how we’re building it to improve public participation with not just its content but the very process behind its design, and answer some common questions we received.

What is the scope of the U.S. Public Participation Playbook?

Many commentors requested a “working definition” of public participation, to better understand the context of the playbook. The White House National Action Plan on Open Government calls for the development of a resource that combines both best practices and suggested performance metrics for improving public participation in the federal government.

In reviewing the comments received, which are viewable in the first draft on Madison, we believe the definition provided by one commentor works well for this resource: “Public participation includes all the activities by which people’s concerns, needs, interests, and values are incorporated into decisions and actions on public issues.”

The new introduction to the playbook is designed to capture this broad scope, but like all sections of the playbook, we still have work to do.

What is a Playbook?

We looked to the example set by the U.S. Digital Services Playbook, and determined the format was useful for this new public participation resource. Our goal remains to develop resource that agencies can use to design and evaluate the effectiveness of their public participation efforts, including:

  • High-level steps (called “plays”) that any public participation effort should consider
  • Checklists for each play, outlining what to consider and activities that would ensure successful execution of the play
  • Diverse case studies and resources managers can use to research the practical application of the checklists
  • Suggested metrics that can be customized and used to evaluate their performance

What are the next steps for the Playbook comment period?

We are very excited about the energy around this resource, and are thrilled that we have received nearly 100 constructive comments via Madison, email and in-person dialogues. We will continue collecting initial recommendations and comments using the Madison platform through Dec. 17, 2014. After this initial period, we will produce the first “official” version of the playbook for distribution in early January.

In this draft of the Playbook, we have done our best to consider each of the comments we received to date. Some required discussion, while many were spot-on and just received a nod via “thumbs up.” Whether your ideas are visibly incorporated yet or not, rest assured, we’ve read each one of them and are working with them.

What is an “effective comment” on the Playbook?

Effective comments are “actionable,” meaning easy to place in context and evaluate for implementation. In the same way we look to refine data for better decision-making, the better you can shape your input for practical application, the easier it is for us to process and respond to.

More than just effective comments, we’re working to improve our standard for effective responses.

For example, private-sector mobile expert Sean McDonald of FrontlineSMS contributed nine suggestions addressing mobile development in public participation. In response, Jacob Parcell, MobileGov Community lead, responded to his comment on Madison, then incorporated the feedback into the most current draft. Eventually, we will want all collaborations in the resource that transparent as we improve the process, as illustrated:

We’re kicking the tires on how we can better report direct correlations between each comment and the actions they result in, and look forward to improving this capability.

What does the playbook need most for contributions right now?

As comments on Madison point out, before Dec. 17 we’d like to focus more on the case studies and resources used to illustrate the practical application of the play. Ideally, we aim for six diverse resources each—currently some have many more, which we need to pare down to the most effective.

Also, this week we’ve begun developing introductions to plays. Please take a look and help develop them into fuller representations.

What’s next for the draft playbook development process?

Dozens of federal managers, civil societies and other partners will continue to process suggestions as they are provided, as well as contribute their own insights and expertise. Today we release a new draft, and will release another one the following week that incorporates new feedback: three responsive public drafts before even the initial “formal” release.

After the formal release of the playbook in January, it doesn’t mean the end—this collaborative resource will be introduced for widespread evaluation, implementation, and more contribution based on lessons learned during this initial process. While the playbook is designed to fulfill the need outlined in the White House National Action Plan on Open Government, we already see the opportunity to build and share more, and look forward to discussing with you how we will move forward.

Who are the collaborators behind the U.S. Public Participation Playbook?

Part of designing collaboration into the DNA of the playbook is not just creating a resource you can see the value in, it’s creating a resource you can see yourself in. For example, in the federal government we now almost doubled the size of the working group to more than 60 innovators from across diverse mission areas and job fields. This week we’d like to recognize them—and next week with the release of the latest draft, we’d like to recognize the civil society organizations whose contributions and voices have helped make this process so productive.

U.S. Public Participation Playbook Working Group Members

U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Women’s Health, Alison Lemon

Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Alla Goldman

General Services Administration, DigitalGov Search, Ammie Farraj Feijoo

General Services Administration, Office of DigitalGov, Ashley Wichman

First Responder Network Authority, Bernetta Reese

Federal Communications Commission, Brittany Stevenson

Environmental Protection Agency, Bryant Crowe

White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Charles Worthington

International Trade Administration, Chris Higginbotham

U.S. Coast Guard, Christopher Lagan

General Services Administration, sites.USA.gov, Coqui Aspiazu

Department of State, Consular Affairs, Corina Dubois

White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Corinna Zarek

Navy Army Community Credit Union, Crystal Deleon

Department of Transportation, Daniel Morgan

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Danielle Brigida

National Library of Medicine, David Hale

Federal Communications Commission, Deanna Stephens

General Services Administration, Emerging Leaders Program, Daniel Kenny

Federal Communications Commission, Dr. David A. Bray

U.S. Peace Corps, Emily Dulcan

U.S. Global Change Research Program, Emily Therese Cloyd

General Services Administration, 18F, Eric Mill

General Services Administration, 18F, Gray Brooks

General Services Administration, Office of DigitalGov, Gwynne Kostin

U.S. Small Business Administration, Jack Bienko

General Services Administration, Office of DigitalGov, Jacob Parcell

Department of Commerce, Jacque Mason

Library of Congress, Jamie Stevenson

Environmental Protection Agency, Jay Davis

NASA, Jeanne Holm

General Services Administration, USA.gov, Jessica Milcetich

Department of State, Information Assurance Branch, Jody Bennett

General Services Administration, Office of DigitalGov, Justin Herman

Department of State, Office of Emergency Management, Kate E. Bitely

National Park Service, Kathleen Camarda (former employee)

Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy, Katia Albanese

Defense Commissary Agency, Kirsten O’Nell

National Parks Service, Laura Cohen

General Services Administration, USAGov en Español (formerly known as GobiernoUSA.gov), Laura Godfrey

Department of Homeland Security, Lindsey Backhaus

U.S. Census Bureau, Logan Powell

U.S. Army, Conflict Resolution & Public Participation Center of Expertise, Maria Lantz

Defense Logistics Agency, Mason Lowery

Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy, Michael Reardon

Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Michael Thomas

Smithsonian Institution, Miranda Gale

General Services Administration, Monica Fitzgerald

White House Office of Management and Budget, Nicholas Fraser

Department of Education, Nicole Callahan

Department of State, Consular Affairs, Nicole Stillwell

General Services Administration, 18F, Noah Kunin

Federal Aviation Administration, Paul Cianciolo

Federal Communications Commission, Priscilla Silva (former employee)

General Services Administration, Office of DigitalGov, Rachel Flagg

Department of State, Educational and Cultural Affairs, Rebecca Ramspott

General Services Administration, Data.gov, Rebecca Williams

Environmental Protection Agency, Robert Burchard

Department of Labor, Robin Ackerman

White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Ryan Panchadsaram

Department of State, Consular Affairs, Sara Stealy

U.S. Geological Survey, Scott Horvath

National Institutes of Health, Scott Prince

National Defense University, Veronica Wendt

Justin Herman is the SocialGov Program lead for the General Services Administration and is managing the U.S. Public Participation Playbook project. For more information on this project and to learn how you can participate, please contact him via email.

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