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.