This post was originally published on the Intellitics blog: Ten Things to Monitor As Agencies Invite Input On Open Government Plans
Now that a whole lot of agency.gov/open websites are live and many agencies have indeed set up a ”mechanism for the public to [...] [p]rovide input on the agency’s Open Government Plan” it’s time to figure out what to watch out for over the coming weeks and months in order to evaluate the success of these initiatives.
As I noted back in January, my hope is that these new projects will address and improve upon three key issues that we saw during last year’s Open Government Dialogue (namely, lack of convener involvement, insufficient moderation, herding).
All in all, I’ll keep an eye on the following (in no particular order):
- Expectation management: Is the agency clear about the scope of their participation initiative and their promise to the public? Do participants know what impact they can reasonably expect and when?
- Community ground rules: Every agency should have these “rules of engagement” in place and be ready to enforce them if needed. Bonus points for friendly, easy-to-understand language!
- Level of convener involvement/participation: Does the agency become actively engaged in the discussions?
- Quality of moderation: Will the agency manage to keep discussions on topic and moderate distractions in a fair but timely manner?
- Quantity of participation over time: How many participants will sign up? How much content will they produce? (luckily, IdeaScale exposes a few basic metrics in real time, such as number of ideas, comments, votes and registered users)
- Outreach and diversity of participants: Does the agency manage to attract a broad range of participants from various backgrounds? Or do usual suspects dominate the discussions?
- Conclusion and impact: This one will be especially interesting as there doesn’t seem to be an end date defined for any of these initiatives. In case of ongoing participation programs, does the agency at least share interim results?
- Tech support: Does the agency address technical support questions and resolve any issues in a timely manner?
- Project communications: Does the agency offer ways for participants to stay in the loop (or get up to speed quickly) with regard to current state of the discussion, frequently asked questions, highlights, interim results, next steps etc.?
- Mood: Overall, how happy is everyone with the process? What’s the energy level? Are things productive? Etc.
What else should be on the radar? Sound off in the comments.