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


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, 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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