Public Feedback & Involvement, Tools & Strategies...

Prepare to Think Bigger

After agencies develop their open government plans, I recommend making the focus of open government more ambitious. Releasing some data sets and finding new ways to receive public comments is great, but so much more is possible.

Transparency, participation, and collaboration bring new capabilities. New capabilities should open our minds to thinking bigger. Rather than just solving old problems in new ways, we can solve new problems.

One year into it, open government is not yet mainstream; we are not coming close to tapping the collective wisdom of the American people because too few people across the country know about the Open Government Initiative. My recommendation is that OSTP raises the profile of open government by attempting to tackle a very ambitious problem using transparency, participation, and collaboration. The more ambitious the problem is, the more agencies and citizens will come to your aid.

OSTP has already demonstrated some willingness to learn in public (an essential and very rare quality here in DC); it's time to take it to the next level. For inspiration, see the OSTP blog post about grand challenges: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/02/04/grand-challenges-21st-century

As mentioned in the article, it's great that you're working with Expert Labs to explore new ways of harnessing the intellectual capital of our nation, but with the multitude of nearly existential threats to our country's financial and physical security it seems clear that more urgency is needed.

Believe in open government, believe in what you started, and go for it.

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Idea No. 14