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HHS Asks “Help us Develop Our OpenGov Plan”

This week HHS CTO asked for help in creating their new open gov plan. Any suggestions for him? Any favorite opengov plans?

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Help Us Develop Our New Open Gov Plan

Posted January 17, 2012

By Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer, HHS

In January 2009, President Obama issued the Open Government Directive, calling for government agencies to take action to become more transparent, participatory, and collaborative. We issued “Version 1” of HHS’s Open Government Plan on April 7, 2010. This plan has served as our guiding star as we’ve worked energetically to “liberate” HHS data and improve how HHS collaborates with the public and external stakeholders. We are now working on “Version 2” of our Open Government Plan, and would love to get your help in developing it. In particular, we’d love to get your input on the following questions:

  1. Are there any policy development or program implementation areas which should be areas of particular focus for our open government efforts?
  2. Are there new forms of public participation with which HHS should experiment? What kinds of new or improved techniques can we utilize to interact in the most meaningful possible ways with the American people?
  3. How can we more effectively reach non-traditional audiences in order to obtain the broadest level of input possible into HHS planning and implementation processes?

If you could share your thoughts with us on these questions (and any other areas of open government interest), we’d appreciate it very much – please send your thoughts to us at [email protected]. We’re also working with open government stakeholder and advocacy groups on tapping other sources of public input as we engage in plan development. Once we’ve received a full range of inputs from external and internal audiences, we’ll assemble a draft plan. By late March, we’ll make our draft plan available on this website for public comment and feedback.

We look forward to working with you on this effort – thanks so much in advance for your help!

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Profile Photo Steve Ressler

3 – On reaching non-traditional audiences, I’d spend some time defining what that means. I’d say there are couple “non-traditional audiences” – one is the average person who is just not involved in the political process – most folks simply don’t spend any time involved in giving input – I’d define the mechanism to reach these folks is make it meaningful to them and make it easy. Make it in their workflow and easy for them to use.

Another definition of “non-traditional audience” is often those disadvantaged without access to resources to give input (technology or perhaps the means to get to a venue to give input). Once again, I think it is about making it easy for folks to give input in the ways they prefer. I’d spend a lot of times at libraries, benefit centers, and other non-traditional venues and integrated feedback into their day to day processes.

Just generally I always feel the best way to get feedback outside the super involved is to make it easy and embed it in the flow. It’s like how CVS asks you to fill out a survey after you purchase something. They don’t randomly call you one day for a survey, they embed it in a flow at the exact moment when they care.

For government, it can be the moment you filled out a benefit form or just completed an appointment at a government venue. That’s the moment to ask

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Profile Photo Adam Arthur

continued from previous post (hit my limit).

3. How can we more effectively reach non-traditional audiences in order to obtain the broadest level of input possible into HHS planning and implementation processes?

By implementing a community portal that integrates multiple social profiles (FaceBook, Twitter, Govloop, etc.) around a 508-compliant, 21st Century Accessibility Act-compliant, secure multi-lingual interface that resembles real life interaction. Again, I would propose the VPI as the all-in-one solution. The VPI could realize so many government mandates:

• Remote Meetings – webinars, conference calls and other tools of collaboration can be repurposed and presented in more innovate and intuitive ways
• Trainings – remote course modules with full-motion video and clear audio can provide certifications and continuing education credits using any web browser or hardware
• Tele-work – interfacing with current legacy systems for remote access, familiar processes come alive inside the realistic 2D environment
• Green Initiatives – carbon emissions are almost eliminated by reducing the need to travel
• Disaster and Outbreak Response – emergency situations shouldn’t prevent the government from performing business and offering services as usual
• Responsible Spending Initiatives – declining budgets and economic recessions should not prevent stakeholders from collaborating with their government
• Accessibility Initiatives – ADA guidelines should be maintained throughout the navigation of every connected system, making information available to everyone

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Profile Photo Adam Arthur

1. Are there any policy development or program implementation areas which should be areas of particular focus for our open government efforts?
Yes – by leveraging more open social platforms and programming environments in “pilot” testing. Innovative programs with high-technology capabilities should pool their resources to work on ways to develop or customize these tools and have a time of true user testing with public and external stakeholders. There should be attainable goals and requirements written around these efforts.

2. Are there new forms of public participation with which HHS should experiment? What kinds of new or improved techniques can we utilize to interact in the most meaningful possible ways with the American people?
Virtual Instances (VIs) of in-person events, meetings and other collaborative functions could provide a secure, integrated foundation for public and partner relations, developing content, and community interaction.
By replacing outdated processes, ineffective in-person meetings and expensive travel, a VI could help develop several agency priorities, while satisfying other government mandates for systems stability, transparency and redundancy.

I was the director and producer of an event that completely utilized a security-approved, 2D virtual technology, designed for the government domain – the Public Health Informatics Virtual Conference (PHIVC), held in Atlanta this past August (Todd Park was a keynote speaker at the in-person version of this event). The PHIVC is the first of many possible use cases, utilizing VIs. Building upon a virtual programming environment concept and developing a custom architecture suitable for government use, the Virtual Platform Initiative (VPI) presents a giant leap forward in savings and innovation. The VPI can empower developers to utilize existing technologies and solutions, creating rich, interoperable applications for use in collaboration, education and other remote instances. The VPI also equips participants with the most intuitive and scalable architecture available to turn any in-person meeting, training or event into a truly immersive experience.

I have already proposed this interactive meeting center and virtual offices project to HHS in late December by submitting an HHSInnovates award entry, (fingers crossed!). The VPI could serve as a conduit and virtual community for enabling HHS to meet, train, facilitate and communicate with public and external stakeholders on a reoccurring basis by:
• Supporting the exchange of critical health information between all levels of public health
• Supporting the development and promotion of requirements, standards, specifications, and an overall architecture in a collaborative, transparent, and dynamic way
• Monitoring and evaluating the capability of state and local health departments to exchange information, (if other systems are connected to the platform or if it is used natively as a conduit for information exchange- detailed, meaningful usage reports can be generated)
• Providing technical assistance to state and local health departments
• Facilitating communication and information sharing within groups and communities
• Enhancing and expanding the effectiveness and efficiency of teleworking employees by offering additional tools to aid them in their off-campus work

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Profile Photo Alex Moll
  • First, and most importantly, one of the Open Gov quick wins to increase access to public participation in HHS agency decision making would be to have the HHS homepage or ‘Regulations’ page (from the homepage tab) directly link to Regulations.gov, the Federal government’s one-stop shop for engaging the public in eRulemaking.
  • Second, with respect to new forms of public participation with which HHS should experiment, I would recommend considering both in-person and online engagement activities, including interesting activities that combine both. Improved techniques agencies can utilize to interact in the most meaningful possible ways with the American people include both TweetUps, regularly scheduled webinars, on one end of the engagement spectruum, which are cool for obtaining public comments.
  • Currently, I’m exploring other ways our program could utilize sophisticated forms of engagement for the future, such as deliberative polling, collaborative wikis, and leveraging social media with in-person forums where the public puts forth policy recommendations from as series of breakout sessions of informed public deliberation.
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Profile Photo Melinda Davey

Don’t forget about considering access for people with disabilities, so it is truely open to all. Section508.govis a great resource for information. Buyaccessible.gov has tools to help you write any solicitiations for electronic or information technology by helping you identify what Section 508 provisions are applicable to the type of technology you are procuring and providing sample solicitation language. The tools on buyaccessible.gove are free for anyone to use. I work on the Buy Accessible team, so let me know if you have any questions. HHS’s Section 508 coordinator, who I believe is Henry Claypool, should be able to help too.

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