What would you say?
It is difficult to resist the seduction of sending a flaming email to the president.
Really, really, difficult.
-7 votesI disagree
What would you say?
It is difficult to resist the seduction of sending a flaming email to the president.
Really, really, difficult.
-11 votesI disagree
12 votesI disagree
Use stimulus money to rewire the US for 'the Grid' (the new internet created by CERN) to upgrade our communication and commerce network and, again, create jobs. It is over 10,000 times faster than the web and eliminates many of the limitations of e-commerce today. Low-overhead, grassroots commerce is a bright future for business and consumers.
40 votesI disagree
Use stimulus money to... 1. Create a comprehensive network of high speed rail lines in low atmosphere tubes for commuting and commercial use. This technology is faster, cheaper and more efficient than air, truck or ship travel and building it would provide jobs. 2. Rewire the US for 'the Grid' (the new internet created by CERN) to upgrade our communication and commerce network and, again, create jobs. 3. Rework the electrical ...more »
Use stimulus money to...
1. Create a comprehensive network of high speed rail lines in low atmosphere tubes for commuting and commercial use. This technology is faster, cheaper and more efficient than air, truck or ship travel and building it would provide jobs.
2. Rewire the US for 'the Grid' (the new internet created by CERN) to upgrade our communication and commerce network and, again, create jobs.
3. Rework the electrical grid so that it can withstand the 'ups and downs' associated with many alternative energies as well as wiring on streets and highways for low cost recharge parking spots and recharge stations - more jobs and an upgraded grid prepared to handle new energies and electric vehicles.
4. R&D and development of the best alternative energies for various US regions such as the 'wind belt' in the south-west, etc.
5. Upgrade gas stations as recharge stations where car batteries are not recharged on site but traded out for 'juiced up' batteries - saving time and making electric recharge wait times a problem of the past.
6. R&D and development of compostable toilet and kitchen technology - the technology already exists but offer incentives for people to upgrade to this technology to reduce solid waste.
7. R&D and development of regional, large scale sort and recycle centers that not only collect all waste, sort, reuse, refurbish and recycle materials but even mine landfills for resources. This industry can replace part or all of the mining industry and provide raw materials for manufacturers.
8. Upgrade existing buildings and homes with passive solar and other 'alternative' energy saving technologies with tax incentives while setting high standards for new construction in terms of internal air quality and energy efficiency.
9. Upgrade roads and bridges for general safety and improved transportation and commerce.
10. Complete and pass the health care legislation that has been prepared so that all Americans are covered and protected. This type of security allows Americans to be more confident to pursue an education or open a business without fearing a lapse in coverage for themselves or their families.
11. Upgrade school facilities to support a 21st Century education. Well paid, professional teachers that challenge students to think creatively and critically, consider interdisciplinary and global problems, persevere in their academic pursuits and take risks in their thought as opposed to preparing them for tests on content that anyone can find on the web in 5 minutes - they don't need information - they need thinking skills. They don't need tests, they need to be reflective.
12. Random old ideas that have circulated on the right and the left - legalize guns but require background checks, psychological tests and training, support family planning, legalize marijuana and decriminalize millions of Americans while raising tax revenues, streamline the government and minimize waste thereby stabilizing or lowering taxes, support mandatory 2 year military service and mandatory 2 year public works service home and or abroad, make war a last resort in all situations and criminalize companies that promote war when they stand to profit from it.
So, what do we get for this? Jobs for Americans in multiple sectors for the next few years. An upgraded infrastructure for communication, transportation and commerce - paving the way for a cleaner and more efficient tomorrow. These incentives improve the environment, the economy, our overall health and quality of life - as a whole, these secure conditions are the foundations upon which a free market economy can flourish.
There's more, but I'll wait for my invite to the White House to share!
Thanks! This is a great start!
12 votesI disagree
Open government requires transformation – it must happen. However, the nature of government is to resist transformation. Therefore, the irresistible force of transformation WILL meet the immovable object of bureaucracy and resistance. If this collision is not anticipated and proactively addressed, the benefits of Open Government will be delayed, taxpayer money will be wasted, and high-profile failures will be used ...more »
Open government requires transformation – it must happen. However, the nature of government is to resist transformation. Therefore, the irresistible force of transformation WILL meet the immovable object of bureaucracy and resistance. If this collision is not anticipated and proactively addressed, the benefits of Open Government will be delayed, taxpayer money will be wasted, and high-profile failures will be used against the proponents of Open Government further slowing down what is in all of our best interests.
Recognizing that this collision will happen, the public sector must work with its private sector partners to implement a combination of policy, funding, communication and management initiatives which provide a platform, protection and toolkit for those agencies and programs which want to implement Open Government.
First, policy must be addressed. The White House and Congress have made a good first step with the implementation of Recovery.gov. This is an excellent example of “carrot and stick” approach, where if an Agency receives funding, it must comply with a new standard of transparency and reporting. This same model should be evaluated closely for Open Government. For new initiatives such as Data.gov, the leadership in government must find a way to enforce Open Government as well as encourage it, going beyond voluntary participation by the agencies.
Next, creative funding should be addressed. Given that the CIOs see Open Government as the next in a long series of unfunded mandates, how can pressures be eased in practical and efficient manner? One approach will be to “seed” small initiatives in each Agency. The White House, working with Congress can play the role of venture capitalist, with each Agency representing areas of possible investment. Ask each CIO to a few candidates for small, agile and quick transformation; have them present to an investment board which evaluates on the principals of ROI, and quickly release funds.
And, communication should be addressed. Many CIO and Agency heads want to implement Open Government, but how? What are the best practices? Where are the centers of excellence, contract vehicles, template management plans and lessons learned which can reduce risk and increase confidence? The White House’s newly appointed CIO and CTO should spearhead a special session of the agency CIO council to specifically address these issues. Through participation, the Agency CIOs and their staff will gain valuable information on how to launch Open Government initiatives. Further, the building blocks of Web 2.0 and open source can greatly assist in this area with inter-agency collaboration.
Finally, management must be addressed. If an Open Government initiative is launched at an Agency, and transformation is the goal, does that imply that a new way of program and project management must also be implemented? Partially, yes. Open Government does require a new way of thinking, but many traditional management approaches work just fine. Government needs to merge their existing standards and management models, evaluate emerging private sector approaches (ex: agile project management, cloud computing), and come up with a hybrid approach that works for them. A key for any transformational initiative will be to test the new approach on a small scale first, obtain success, build enthusiasm, and then scale out. This also compliments the funding constraints mentioned above.
In summary, for those of us that believe in the promise of Open Government, we must provide the environment for the first wave of initiatives to succeed. This environment is a collection, or toolkit, which the Agencies use to get evolutionary projects off the ground, proving success, and gaining enthusiasm. We need to nurture those that take the initial risk. And, we need to provide the platform for when those projects DO succeed, the second and much bigger wave occurs, truly embedding the principles of Open Government into core Agency strategy and implementation.
36 votesI disagree
The heart of any large scale change like this Transparency and Open Government initiative is the culture of the organization or institution (my definition of culture is included below). To have any hope of sustaining the changes implemented through this initiative, the culture of the Federal government needs to undergo a transformation. Without changing the culture, only surface changes will occur and the system will ...more »
The heart of any large scale change like this Transparency and Open Government initiative is the culture of the organization or institution (my definition of culture is included below). To have any hope of sustaining the changes implemented through this initiative, the culture of the Federal government needs to undergo a transformation. Without changing the culture, only surface changes will occur and the system will revert back to the old way of behaving. Only by embedding the new mindset and behavioral norms of transparency and open government deeply into the culture will the changes implemented through this initiative be sustainable through subsequent changes such as a change of parties, personalities, or priorities in the White House.
But you can’t just announce, “we’re going to change our culture” and expect it to happen, even with so-called “change management programs.” I have found that cultural change takes place most easily and most deeply when people change their own mindsets and behaviors rather than being told they have to. This takes place in the same way we change the way we think and behave in our personal lives. Email, the internet, and cell phones didn’t become integral parts of our culture because people were told they had to use them. Most people chose to use them because they were “early adopters” or because their friends and peers were using them. Some people were first told by their employers that they had to use them but eventually grew accustomed and even dependent on them just by using them frequently for an extended time.
This is how real change takes place, including for this initiative. Cultural change within the government needs to address all these ways people change: early adopters who will change just because they like to; followers who will change based on what they see their leaders and peers doing, as long as they have a choice and it makes sense to change; and reluctant adopters who will change first by being told to do so but eventually because it’s just “the way things are done around here” and they become accustomed to it. You know the change is embedded when it becomes harder to go back to the old ways of thinking and behaving than to keep the new ones.
There are already many ideas posted here that will help to bring about this cultural change if they are sustained over an extended period of time and they “make sense” to the people who have to implement and perform them. A number of the ideas involve ongoing dialogue and other means of encouraging more active participation by the public in government activities. I have found that one of the best ways to create a culture of transparency and participation is to make ongoing dialogue a core competency of the organization and a fundamental aspect of the operations of the organization. Another example of an idea that will help to bring about a change to the culture is “Integrate Participation and Collaboration into All Major Systems of Federal Agencies.” If these ideas are implemented in a way that makes sense to the people who have to perform them after working with them for a while, there is hope that they will become accustomed to them and adopt them as the new “ways that things are done around here.” This idea is meant to provide an “umbrella” that ties these other ideas together so that the conscious, deliberate intention to change the government culture becomes a key driver of making the implementation of these other ideas sustainable over the long term.
What is “culture”?
As an organizational anthropologist, I find that “culture” is one of those concepts that is always mentioned when talking about organizational change, but is usually not well understood. It has become more of a catch phrase than something that carries a common meaning.
I like to think of culture as being certain visible and underlying aspects of a group of people, including a formally structured group such as an organization or an institution. The way culture manifests itself visibly in a group can be summed up as “how we do things around here.” This can be viewed in the group as: the individual and collective behavior we can actually observe within the group, such as in a meeting together or talking on the phone; the rituals and symbols that seem to hold some special meaning for the group and are therefore used frequently by the group in their interactions with each other and with their external environment, such as how the group acknowledges its successes and mourns its setbacks (including the lack of any group means of expressing it); the ways people are motivated or de-motivated to follow prescribed procedures and behavioral norms, such as rewards and “punishments”; and the “artifacts” the group produces in its activities, typically “information artifacts” like documents, web pages, meeting notes, email messages, and other forms of documentation and communication. Understanding these information artifacts can be as important to understanding an organizational culture as archaeological artifacts are to understanding an ancient culture.
But underlying this visible culture is what drives how things are done – the essence of the group or organization. This essence shapes the mindsets of the individuals working within the group. It includes their collective: identity (who they are); vision or aspirations (who or what they dream of becoming); purpose (why they exist); and values and beliefs (what they believe in and hold most dear). What the group espouses as their essence (as evidenced through their documentation and communication) vs. what they actually practice (as evidenced through their actual behaviors) is another underlying aspect or driver of the group’s culture.
58 votesI disagree
One of the major challenges with large initiatives (such as this Transparency and Open Government initiative) and large organizations/institutions (such as the Federal Government) is the lack of integration, collaboration, and synergy that usually result from trying to design, implement, and manage anything this large and complex. They are typically designed and implemented in separate pieces based on the concept that ...more »
One of the major challenges with large initiatives (such as this Transparency and Open Government initiative) and large organizations/institutions (such as the Federal Government) is the lack of integration, collaboration, and synergy that usually result from trying to design, implement, and manage anything this large and complex. They are typically designed and implemented in separate pieces based on the concept that if you break something large, and therefore difficult or impossible to design, implement, and manage, down into its component parts and work on each part separately, that when you put them all back together they will somehow work well together as a complete system. This is a mechanistic approach, or what is known in science as a “Newtonian” approach, to systems that are neither machines nor the static, predictable environments that these traditional approaches treat them as.
A large, complex system like the Federal Government is neither a machine nor a static, predictable environment, so traditional approaches just don’t work well. For example, each new piece of legislation and each new regulation can’t just be “plugged in” to the existing “machinery” of the current government without impacting other aspects of the government.
A graphic example of this, that we all have to deal with at least once a year, are the Federal Tax Code and the IRS regulations that try to “Provide America's taxpayers top quality service by helping them understand and meet their tax responsibilities and by applying the tax law with integrity and fairness to all” (IRS Mission Statement).
How can the IRS effectively and efficiently carry out its mission when the Tax Code is a massive patchwork of laws that have been enacted as separate measures, often driven by political aims rather than the common good?
How can a Senator or Representative gain sufficient understanding of this jumble to pass legislation that will optimize the entire system of taxes, including their impact on and interaction with all of the different factors and stakeholders, rather than just the small piece they are working on (even if we assume the best intentions on their part of working for the common good)?
How can taxpayers possibly understand and comply with this mess, especially when it keeps changing all the time and makes little real sense to them even when they can figure out what actions they’re supposed to take?
So the government is not a machine; it is a complex, living, evolving system. In fact, any system involving people is by nature complex and constantly changing, since we are so driven by our personal beliefs, needs, feelings, relationships, and reactions to our environment. Trying to design, implement, and manage a transparent, open government for 300 million of us diverse, unpredictable humans is almost unimaginably complex. What we need for this is a proven way to work with complex living systems, what is often called a “Whole Systems Approach.”
A Whole Systems Approach considers all the factors and elements involved, including how they relate to each other, how they work together as a whole, what the system needs to develop, thrive, and evolve in its environment, and how the system impacts and interacts with its surrounding environment, including how the system will be able to respond and evolve as needs and the surrounding environment change.
For the Transparency and Open Government Initiative this would involve using a whole systems approach throughout this initiative – brainstorming, designing, implementing, and managing the system. This whole systems approach should include:
Look at how the best ideas that emerge out of this effort can come together within the existing government system to collectively produce the desired outcomes of a transparent and open government, as well as the most beneficial impact on the other aspects of the government and the environment in which it operates – this country and the world. The goal is to create synergies that result in a system that is greater than the sum of its parts (these ideas and the elements of the government they involve) -- rather than the other way around, which is the usual result of a mechanistic approach to a complex system. This includes not just synergistic relationships within the Federal Government, but with key aspects of the environment in which it operates such as State and Local Governments, as well as with other current government initiatives such as Economic Recovery.
To address the complexity and uncertainty inherent in this system, a whole systems approach is first and foremost based on a set of principles. These principles guide and shape the whole systems process rather than prescribing a fixed recipe or methodology that details out each step of the process like mechanistic approaches do. What these whole systems principles are varies somewhat among whole systems practitioners and should be crafted collaboratively anyway as part of the initiative’s participative process. But I can provide a couple of examples here to help you envision how they are different from other, more linear, mechanistic approaches.
-- Design for Emergence – This is a concept from complexity science that addresses how to deal with the uncertainty involved with complex, rapidly changing systems. It basically means that you can’t predict in advance everything that will happen within the system, so don’t overdesign everything in the system up front. Instead, design just enough of the system to be able to simulate, prototype or pilot it, observe what happens, and then adjust the design based on your observations of what emerged from the system (thus the term, “design for emergence”). To deal with the complexity of the system, it can also involve implementing the system in stages with each stage adding additional complexity to the previous stages that are already operational and observing and changing the system based on what emerges when you add additional complexity.
-- Design for Sustainability - This means you should expect to go through iterations of this process pretty much indefinitely. This is because not only will you need to make changes to the design based on your observations of the initial implementation, you will also need to keep making changes indefinitely to adapt to ongoing changes in the environment. Another consideration in designing for sustainability is to place a strong emphasis on transforming the underlying culture by embedding the new mindset and practices so deeply into the culture that the system will be sustainable through major changes such as a change of parties, personalities, or priorities in the White House.
Ideally, the whole system view should include the following major elements, how they relate to each other, how they relate to the existing government system, and how the whole thing works together as a whole system. Ideas already posted here are shown in (parens) as examples of each element. This big picture view will also enable us to identify gaps, overlaps, and conflicts between the ideas/elements.
-- Strategy – What are the most important questions we need to address with this initiative such as, “What does ‘open and transparent government’ really mean? Why are we doing this? What are we trying to accomplish? What does success look like? What are the most important factors involved in achieving this success?
(examples: “Develop an overall adaptive, participative strategy for Transparency and Open Government”; “Require all agencies to submit a plan for open government”)
-- Culture (examples: “Ask Federal Agencies to Adopt the Core Principles for Public Engagement”; “Create a Government-wide Transparency, Collaboration, and Participation Culture”)
-- Leadership (examples: President Obama’s ongoing leadership of this initiative, starting with his “Memorandum For The Heads Of Executive Departments And Agencies”; “Hold Agencies Accountable for Implementing the Open Government Directive”)
-- Communication (examples: “Promise USA - National Network of Citizen Conversation”; “Convene the American Public in National Discussions ...”, “Use visual recording and mini animations to convey complex ideas”)
-- Processes – (examples: “72-Hour Mandatory Public Review Period on Major Spending Bills”; “Centralize petitions to Congress and the President”)
-- Organization – (example: “Integrate Participation and Collaboration into All Major Systems of Federal Agencies”, “Invite Congress to work with the Administration on this as a government-wide, bi-partisan initiative”)
-- Technology (examples: “Online, visually interactive, one-stop-shop, federal budget website”, “Digitize everything”)
-- Resources/Funding (example: “Fully fund participation and collaboration activities”)
-- External Relationships – (examples: “Encourage State and Local Governments to Become More Open and Inclusive”, “Use 501c3 non-profit member and volunteer-based organizations and community-based initiatives as models/benchmarks for the Federal government”)
-- System Measurement & Improvement – (example: “Process for measuring, widely communicating the measurement results, and continuously improving the transparency and openness of the government”)
Employ proven systems tools to do this. Some of the ideas already presented in this forum are examples of systems tools: widespread, diverse, coordinated participation; ongoing dialogue; weaving the ideas together into graphic maps or models; social networking, collaboration, and information gathering and dissemination technologies, and others. But there are other tools that would also be useful.
To begin this Whole Systems process and to illustrate how it works, I took a cursory look at the top ideas posted here so far and visualized the system that would possibly result from integrating them. In doing so, I identified some areas where I felt the composite of these ideas needed strengthening in order to create a Whole System that could meet President Obama’s objectives. As a result, I have added several new ideas as separate postings in this forum. They are meant to come together with the existing ideas to create a more effective Whole System. These have been posted already or will be soon.
Develop an overall adaptive, participative strategy for Transparency and Open Government
Create a government-wide culture of transparency, collaboration, and participation
Invite Congress to partner with the Administration on this as a government-wide, bi-partisan initiative
Use 501c3 non-profit member and volunteer-based organizations and community-based initiatives as models/benchmarks for the Federal government
Process for measuring, widely communicating the measurement results, and continuously improving the transparency and openness of the government
44 votesI disagree
www.stateofgracedocument.com WHAT IS IT? The State of Grace Document is a new way to build, sustain and transition business and personal relationships with trust and respect. You personally write it along with those involved, preferably at the beginning of the relationship. It captures what draws each individual to the situation, your personal preferences and expectations; and it provides a path back to peace if the ...more »
WHAT IS IT?
The State of Grace Document is a new way to build, sustain and transition business and personal relationships with trust and respect. You personally write it along with those involved, preferably at the beginning of the relationship. It captures what draws each individual to the situation, your personal preferences and expectations; and it provides a path back to peace if the need arises. It is often being used to replace or enhance traditional legal contracts.
THE 5 COMPONENTS OF A STATE OF GRACE DOCUMENT
1. The Story of Us — Share what draws you to these people and this situation.
2. Interaction Styles and Warning Signs — The “blueprint of me,” how I work best, what I look like on a good day/bad day, and what I might need that I couldn’t ask for in the moment.
3. Expectations — Core values and non-negotiables, the structure you need to create and sustain this relationship.
4. Questions to Return to Peace — A tool to return to peace if the need arises, makes the difficult times shorter and easier.
5. Long-Term Timeframe — How long you’re willing to go before you make peace. An agreement of no outright harm, a willingness to keep an open window if the unimaginable happens.
WHO'S USING IT AND WHEN
The State of Grace Document is currently being used in communities, corporations, small businesses, non-profits, government agencies, churches, families, schools, between boards of directors, project teams, coalitions, business partners, couples, friends, siblings, etc. in countries around the world. Because it is a framework upon which to share the “blueprint of me” with others, it can be used within any relationship situation that exists, and with as many people as are involved. It creates effortless communication and easy day-to-day interactions that reduce stress and enhance overall emotional and physical health. People around the globe say it is an idea whose time has come.
Visit the website (www.StateOfGraceDocument.com) to download sample Documents and learn to create your own.
41 votesI disagree
The current budgeting and funding of agency programs and projects inhibits and even discourages interagency partnering and collaboration. Let's offer incentives and provide options to make it easier for federal agencies to work collaboratively with one another.
8 votesI disagree
The design and construction industry, including the Corps of Engineers, have been utilizing a process called "Partnering" for over 20 years. The Partnering process begins with a workshop that brings together the three key stakeholder groups involved in a typical construction project: the Owner, the Contractor, and the Architect or Engineer. The workshop sets the stage for the working relationship by developing the ...more »
The design and construction industry, including the Corps of Engineers, have been utilizing a process called "Partnering" for over 20 years.
The Partnering process begins with a workshop that brings together the three key stakeholder groups involved in a typical construction project: the Owner, the Contractor, and the Architect or Engineer. The workshop sets the stage for the working relationship by developing the project mission and goals, team values, understanding expectations, discussing communication, roles, and responsibilities, problem solving processes, and addressing any "rocks in the road."
The Partnering work continues throughout the life of the project as a proactive way to address issues before they get too big, assess how well the team is working together, and how well the project is meeting its mission and goals.
A third party facilitates the initial workshop, and may assist at follow-up workshops, but the process is "owned" by the project team Partnering Champion(s).
I have participated in as well as facilitated over 80 Partnering workshops, and can attest to the validity of the process.
48 votesI disagree
Problem: Minimal advance public notice of Open Government Dialogue and the brief period allowed for comments mean that many Americans will be precluded from participating. Proposed solution: To get the full benefit of citizens' experiences, wisdom and ingenuity, Open Government Dialogue should be repeated - next time with plenty of public notice and a generous response time - at least as much as provided under standard ...more »
Problem: Minimal advance public notice of Open Government Dialogue and the brief period allowed for comments mean that many Americans will be precluded from participating.
Proposed solution: To get the full benefit of citizens' experiences, wisdom and ingenuity, Open Government Dialogue should be repeated - next time with plenty of public notice and a generous response time - at least as much as provided under standard rulemaking.
14 votesI disagree
Too many people who work for government are not up to the task of interacting with the public. At minimum they need customer service training. At higher levels, they need to be proficient in public debate, public speaking and dealing with the press.
267 votesI disagree
Over the last eight years, our agency maintained a fairly open dialog with the public on issues of scientific and technological advancement. Our agency was able to do so because we looked to the research community and the peer review process for guidance about whether a research breakthrough was valid, important and of interest to the public. 1. To maintain transparency, it should be federal policy that all agencies ...more »
Over the last eight years, our agency maintained a fairly open dialog with the public on issues of scientific and technological advancement. Our agency was able to do so because we looked to the research community and the peer review process for guidance about whether a research breakthrough was valid, important and of interest to the public.
1. To maintain transparency, it should be federal policy that all agencies never intentionally hide, diminish, under-publicize or reject scientific research, particularly research that is of import to the scientific community as determined by that community through peer review.
2. To encourage participation, the federal government should establish mechanisms to make it easier for federal grant recipients to publicize the results of their work -- in all areas, not just science and technology, but also art, history and others. Too many incredible results stay only within their professional community, in part because of misunderstanding and a lack of knowledge about how to share results.
3. Collaboration is ongoing, but to improve it, agencies should be encouraged to truly partner when disseminating research results, particularly as many results are funded by multiple agencies. We all serve the same customers, in the broadest sense, and true collaboration would serve them best.