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

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

Alla Goldman, Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Ammie Farraj Feijoo, General Services Administration, DigitalGov Search

Ashley Wichman, General Services Administration, Office of DigitalGov

Bernetta Reese, First Responder Network Authority

Brittany Stevenson, Federal Communications Commission

Bryant Crowe, Environmental Protection Agency

Charles Worthington, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Chris Higginbotham, International Trade Administration

Christopher Lagan, U.S. Coast Guard

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

Corina Dubois, Department of State, Consular Affairs

Corinna Zarek, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Crystal Deleon, Navy Army Community Credit Union

Daniel Morgan, Department of Transportation

Danielle Brigida, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

David Hale, National Library of Medicine

Deanna Stephens, Federal Communications Commission

Daniel Kenny, General Services Administration, Emerging Leaders Program

Dr. David A. Bray, Federal Communications Commission

Emily Dulcan, U.S. Peace Corps

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

Eric Mill, General Services Administration, 18F

Gray Brooks, General Services Administration, 18F

Gwynne Kostin, General Services Administration, Office of DigitalGov

Jack Bienko, U.S. Small Business Administration

Jacob Parcell, General Services Administration, Office of DigitalGov

Jacque Mason, Department of Commerce

Jamie Stevenson, Library of Congress

Jay Davis, Environmental Protection Agency

Jeanne Holm, NASA

Jessica Milcetich, General Services Administration, USA.gov

Jody Bennett, Department of State, Information Assurance Branch

Justin Herman, General Services Administration, Office of DigitalGov

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

Kathleen Camarda (former employee), National Park Service

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

Kirsten O’Nell, Defense Commissary Agency

Laura Cohen, National Parks Service

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

Lindsey Backhaus, Department of Homeland Security

Logan Powell, U.S. Census Bureau

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

Mason Lowery, Defense Logistics Agency

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

Michael Thomas, Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Miranda Gale, Smithsonian Institution

Monica Fitzgerald, General Services Administration

Nicholas Fraser, White House Office of Management and Budget

Nicole Callahan, Department of Education

Nicole Stillwell, Department of State, Consular Affairs

Noah Kunin, General Services Administration, 18F

Paul Cianciolo, Federal Aviation Administration

Priscilla Silva (former employee), Federal Communications Commission

Rachel Flagg, General Services Administration, Office of DigitalGov

Rebecca Ramspott, Department of State, Educational and Cultural Affairs

Rebecca Williams, General Services Administration, Data.gov

Robert Burchard, Environmental Protection Agency

Robin Ackerman, Department of Labor

Ryan Panchadsaram, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Sara Stealy, Department of State, Consular Affairs

Scott Horvath, U.S. Geological Survey

Scott Prince, National Institutes of Health

Veronica Wendt, National Defense University

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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