Open Government Needs Public Participation Calendars

Originally posted on the Intellitics blog: Open Government Needs Public Participation Calendars

Over at Sunlight Labs, they have some design suggestions today around how federal agencies should approach their new /open website sections with regard to data.

Here’s the comment I just left (pretty much the same point I made on the OSTP blog a few weeks ago when they were seeking input on an Open Government Dashboard):

In addition to exposing the list of available data sets, agencies should publish — at the very minimum — a calendar of ongoing as well as upcoming consultations or any other participation initiatives they offer.
This would be a first step towards tracking the scope and quality of agencies’ public participation efforts.

Obviously, it would also make it easier for citizens to find the participation opportunities they are most interested in.

A lot of thought leaders in the area of public participation have freely and generously shared their advice over the past year, and agencies should draw on this knowledge as they continue to become more participatory. The key success factors to meaningful, effective participation aren’t a secret, and over time I’m sure we’ll see smart solutions for consistently tracking, measuring and evaluating public participation efforts at all levels of government.

However, the very first step towards this goal is to simply give people (citizens, researchers and other participation evangelists) an easy way to find out about upcoming participation opportunities.

And who knows, making this information available may pave the way for other, more fancy ideas in this area.

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