New Mexico asks citizens for budget ideas

Last week, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez invited the public to submit ideas on how to cut waste and reduce the size of government. Gov. Martinez’s office set up a dedicated email account, [email protected], for residents to make budget suggestions.

In what the governor hopes will be a call to action, [email protected] will allow New Mexicans a way to submit ideas on how best to balance the state’s budget. “I am asking for their help as we work to cut wasteful spending, reduce the size of government, and put our state back on track,” Gov. Martinez said in a statement.

Other states and cities have set up websites and utilized online tools to help people submit budget-saving ideas. A well-known example comes from the City of Santa Cruz who set up a free WordPress site in 2009 to crowdsource solutions a $9.2 million budget gap. With the help of UserVoice, a San Francisco-based company who helps structure and manage online feedback, the city set up a online suggestion platform within eight days, spearheaded by volunteers and with no budget. The UserVoice forum collected ideas, reduced redundancy and structured a ranking system so the best ideas on how to fix the budget bubbled to the top.

Last summer, Washington Governor Chris Gregoire held a brainstorming and voting period for a Web-based crowdsourcing effort that yielded nearly 2,000 ideas, with 5,600 comments and over 137,000 votes cast. Gov. Gregoire and her team leveraged a similar platform powered by IdeaScale, which offers any visitor the chance to submit their idea, allowing others to agree, disagree and comment.

As reported by CivSource earlier today, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a company called Spigit have launched a pilot community that will allow 15,000 city employees to post ideas on how to improve service delivery or save the city money. Other recent efforts to crowdsource budget problems have been seen in North Carolina and Idaho, with a growing number of states offering financial and spending data online.

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Daniel Honker

Great news, and thanks for sharing, Jeff. I must say I’m a little disappointed that the State of New Mexico isn’t using something more interactive than email to collect these ideas. So many tools are available to aggregate that input, and I have a feeling that they’ll get swamped without some way to sort it all out!

Sarah Giles

I’m also disappointed (and I’ll go further than Daniel and say very) in NM’s choice of process – seems like they’ve either created an immense amount of slogging for themselves or that it’s a rather empty gesture towards public input. In addition, they’re missing a real opportunity for meaningful citizen engagement. Is there any kind of educational / information sharing component built in to this? Are citizens meant to simply submit any idea – without knowledge of what impact the suggestions has – to the email address?