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Forum Replies Created
August 14, 2012 at 7:28 pm #167268
Elizabeth stated, “I think most people, wherever they live, think their country is #1“. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to like 15 different countries in the last few years, most of them developing, and at least from my experience, this statement is absolutely not the case. People in many countries – most I’ve visited, have serious concerns about various issues in their countries, and regularly compared their country unfavorably to many others. In fact, I have never run across anyone expressing that they have the best country in the world. Yes, many are proud of their people and where they live, but this is very different, I think. I wouldn’t be surprised if folks in the US are among the very few in the world to regularly state this view (I have not been to Norway, Sweden or Finland, which usually rank fairly high in the quality of life stats).
And really, its a strange position to take. Why do we revel in being the best country on earth? I will say there are some terrific aspects about our culture that I am extremely proud of, having seen differences elsewhere. For most Americans, nobody has ever asked us who our father was on a job interview, for instance (in part this the ethnic mixing bowl phenomena – because we have last names from everywhere, we really have no idea where people came from). This is not the case everywhere, even in many free countries in Europe. For instance, if you are of Roma decent living in Europe, good luck on getting hired – they recognize your last name and will ask to make sure. Anyone who hangs out with the silicon valley tech crowd for any length of time gets truly blown away by the absolutely free spirited culture of innovation that pervades there.
I do agree the trend is toward the US becoming more integrated into a community of nations. As this happens, the “We are the best country on earth” sentiment should recede. The bigger issue though is whether our political process can ever recover enough to actually address these crippling problems that are bringing all these scores downward. Most of us believe the problems are solvable. But perhaps the institutional structure of our system really has destroyed our representative democracy (Gerrymandering – I’m looking at you!). Without true representative democracy, its impossible to tackle big problems.
Just as problematic is our kicking out of talented foreigners who come here to study. Welcoming and integrating people from all over the world is how we got #1 in the first place (a large percentage of small businesses in the US are started by foreign born naturalized US citizens, for instance). I really don’t understand why everyone who comes to study here abroad and gets a degree (especially in math and science) isn’t immediately offered a green card.
March 27, 2012 at 5:37 pm #152272
While I’m all for the Health Care mandate that appears to be on its way out if today’s court proceedings are any indication, I’m not sure I feel the same way about an internet mandate. I think we should work hard to give people access to the internet, but I put this in the same category as refrigerators – yes, everyone should have one, but those camping or living out in the wilderness may forgo them. But it should be affordable enough that most everyone could afford it if they wanted to, either via cell phone, TV internet access or whatnot.
February 14, 2012 at 4:24 pm #152661
I think the memorandum the President released the day after he got in office was a seminal event for the open government community in DC. This definitely kicked the train into high gear in way that had ripple effects both at the local level around the country and internationally. The memo was an organizing event that Sunlight pointed to in holding their first TransparencyCamp, as well for the various open government conferences later in the year. Without this, there wouldn’t have been nearly the excitement or interest early on in this process. That said, I think the later Open Government Directive probably missed the mark of what was needed. Most seem to have taken this as “yet another unfunded OMB mandate” type thing that will pass as soon as the administration does.
December 20, 2010 at 9:31 pm #118164
In reply to Elliot whether the USG has control over how contractors dispurse their funds, the answer in most cases is, “Yes, most definitely.” In cost plus contracts, there is actually a percentage amount for pay increases over the life of the award. This is usually the case for Time and Materials as well. However, this is not the case in Firm Fixed Price contracts. The govt is usually not supposed to know the innards of the cost structure for FFP.
Regardless, for contracts in place, there is no method for the USG to go back and retrofit a “do not give salary increases” clause. Unless I’m sorely mistaken, I really don’t see this as a possibility.
December 23, 2009 at 5:21 pm #87759
Regarding the Records Mgmt issue, as long as the wiki tracks all comments and changes (most all wikis do this), you already have the technical part answered. You obviously still need to do the dance with whatever Agency Records Mgmt POC is sponsoring the wiki though. The other obvious question from a policy hassle standpoint is whether this constitutes an information collection (hint – PRA).
December 23, 2009 at 5:19 pm #87761
Based on the DefenseSolutions.gov experience, I think the two ways you can go are to receive all the comments and ideas confidentially (this is what DefenseSolutions.gov does, along with protecting intellectual property for 5 years), or make the process open and transparent. The Wiki approach implies the open and transparent approach.
Regarding Industry, I would not allow anonymous access, and would require everyone who registers to make their profile public, along with company affiliation. The concern would be if certain industry players want to game outcomes towards their skillsets – this should be allowed, but it should be transparent. Industry should be allowed to make their own pages, but they should be linked on their profile page (many wiki products do this automatically).
As long as everyone is posting transparently, I think it really gets to the idea that participation open government implies trusted conversation. For this process, while I do see the value of anonymous contributions, and I certainly can imagine a number of downsides. Perhaps there is a middle ground someone can do by requesting an account with a pseudonym that GSA or NAPA approves – meaning GSA/NAPA knows who they are, and verifies that they are an individual instead of a company, but their profile isn’t shared.
Regarding the idea of developing the requirements or posting a general need, I’m clearly biased, and would go strongly in favor of a DefenseSolutions “post the problem/need” approach and look for crowdsourced solutions. Perhaps another approach is to do “Open Govt Projects”, which allowed significant participation from many participants, including the ability to add resources to the project. I’m guessing this might require an act of congress to truly pull off, but it would be a worthy endeavor to work up a proposal for an enlightened Representative/Senator to take up.
December 18, 2009 at 7:49 pm #87337
Regarding the account approval, the question I would ask is who do you turn down and why? If you don’t have strict enforcement standards, there probably isn’t much of a point in doing this. It might result in a faux feeling “safeness” but isn’t really stopping those from viewing content that we’d rather not view it.
Again, unless there is some rationale and process for strict enforcement, I would pick 3.a. This should allow the content to be more easily crawled; it would make it clear to all that this is an open site, and would allow far more participation from those interested.
The gamble you in effect are making is that you can control the spambots easily enough, and that those interested in participating are really the only ones who will hang around.
June 30, 2009 at 5:33 pm #72690
I’m coming to this idea a bit late, but we need to figure out how to make crowdsourcing a viable option for Requirements Development. This is at some level what we are attempting to do with DefenseSolutions.gov. Vice letting the government spend oodles of time defining the requirement, to the extent practicable, open up the conversation by sharing the problem, and allow quick seed money to for people & organizations who come up with innovative ideas for solving it. This in effect becomes a crowd-sourced prototyping approach for the large projects, and a vastly cheaper solution for the smaller ones.
To do this Federal-wide, you need the equivalent of Other Transactions Authorities available to all agencies. Perhaps with a cap at 200K or something. This would allow for real up-front innovation, while still requiring larger purchases to go through a rigorous contracting process.
March 31, 2009 at 5:49 pm #66152
Clay Johnson is the one who came up with the idea in fact. Been talking with them regularly about it.
March 31, 2009 at 5:11 pm #66156
John, it looks like your Crada idea for engaging in open source transparency projects with govt might work. If we are looking for a belly button on the industry side, would OSSI be interested in playing a role?
March 31, 2009 at 5:08 pm #68977
Diane’s visualizations were amazing. And really, so were all the spur of the moment conversations. This to me was the best part. The sessions were great (I always had a quandry of which ones to see), but the informal conversations could have gone on another two days!
March 20, 2009 at 1:00 am #68079
Obama looks like he’s doing better than me. I’m already down three loses. 🙁
February 27, 2009 at 5:04 pm #67001
Hi Dan, we in DoD are working a wiki called DoDTechipedia. Federal employees and contractors with CAC cards can access the internal version here (https://www.dodtechipedia.mil) – the external version will hopefully be up by July. We have had a far harder time setting up the external wiki, in that we’ve had to go through a number of policy issues, including privacy act concerns, information assurance issues, records management concerns, public affairs concerns, paperwork reduction act issues and general council concerns. Some of these can be navigated around, while others may require some time and energy prior to proceeding.
In terms of a strategic roadmap, I love all the issues Alice lays out. I think most critical is identifying that you have a valid, motivating reason for collaboration that will attract the stakeholders you think should be a part of it. If possible, you should test this out prior to spending massive amount of time and resources on it. In our case, we were able to have a mini-pilot that got 30 companies and government organizations to participate around a single technology area (this is what we collaborate around).
Also, little nagging issues like policy constraints will modify your optimal solution. Case in point – we are using Confluence as our Wiki engine, not because we think its the best one (although it has roles-based access, which we need), but because it had already gone through the information assurance process certifications. Using Confluence saved us about 6 months effort.
Finally, in most cases, the outreach effort you put forward might make far more difference in your success potential than anything else. Really focussing on your outreach effort (and change management plan if this is an internal project) is critical. This will also help structure your roll-out plan.