GovBytes: To Crowdsource or Not To Crowdsource?

Cities and states are increasingly turning to the internet to allow citizens to participate in government. While it’s often easier for people to send in a comment online rather than attend a public meeting, local governments are still trying to figure out the best way to engage in crowdsourcing. According to a recent article in GovTech, a number of organizations are turning to outside vendors to do the job for them, while others are taking a do-it-yourself approach.

Going through a third-party was a quicker way to expedite the system, said Dennis Gagnon, the city’s communications officer. Within one month, the city went from having no platform to having KCMOmentum up and running.

Because the website was developed by the vendor, Kansas City officials didn’t have to come up with their own “terms of engagement.” Those terms were worked out beforehand by MindMixer.

“We didn’t have to go through that process of thinking through, ‘OK, will people engage in the site? How will we control that?’” Gagnon said.

Should Government Crowdsourcing Websites be Developed In-House?

Third-party services can offer some clear advantages, including being able to deliver results very quickly. However, it it’s usually cheaper to use in-house people — if they have the skills necessary to produce the website. Creating the website yourself also allows for greater control which can be important when complying with particular government regulations. Has your organization created a crowdsourcing website? If so, was it developed in-house or by a vendor? Do you think one approach is better than another?


“GovBytes” is a blog series created by GovLoop in partnership with Government Technology. If you see great a story on Gov Tech and want to ask a question around it, please send it to [email protected]

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Scott Kearby

Yes … we have used SPIGIT … check out

This has generated a lot of ideas & suggestions. After some initial enthusiasm, participation has slowed however. Implementation is the harder part … there are lots of good ideas, but there is no one to direct implementation. I believe the ideas are referred to the appropriate manager, but from there a good idea can be discarded (and that is usually easier than trying something new).

We have also used the same vendor product to gather input for a Planning & Zoning Master Plan and are currently using it to get input/ideas about a comprehensive plan for the Office on Aging that coordinates a variety of services and activities for senior citizens.