I Wish I Were Far From the Madding Crowd

March 5, 2010

Open Government Initiative (deadline March 19!)

While poking around the National Cancer Institute’s website, I noticed an image prominently displayed saying “Share your ideas for Cancer.gov“.

That takes you to the website of a company called IdeaScale.  They had information there about the White House’s OpenGov Dialogue (which is now closed).  But ironically there was no link from that to the OpenGov websites of other U.S. government agencies, even though IdeaScale has an Open Government page with a paragraph specifically noting how its tool can be used by “Federal Agencies.”  It even has a link so that if you’re with a federal, state, or local agency, you can sign up.  But no list and no link!

So I Googled “+site:ideascale.com +gov” and got a list of hits.  I eventually got to the White House Open Government Initiative site at http://www.whitehouse.gov/open, which lets you click on “Around the Government” and see a “dashboard” for federal agencies showing their progress in meeting certain milestones.  When you click on the name of a department or an agency, you get sent to the “Open Gov” page for that agency.  From there you can go to the dialogue tool for that agency.

But still no comprehensive list.

I finally discovered that if you’re on the White House Open Government Initiative site and you click on Tell Top Agencies How to Achieve Greater Transparency, Participation, and Collaboration, you get sent to http://www.usa.gov/webcontent/open/tool_poc.shtml.  The links on that page send you to the individual agency “Open Gov” pages, which then provide links to the agency dialogue pages.

However, a link to the actual Agency Contact Information for Dialog Tools is provided on that page (and yes it’s in the text at the top, but not really prominently displayed—it’s just a link in the text rather than highlighted as an important link at the top of the page).  But what surprised was how many links I was surprised by how many hoops you had to jump through to get to one comprehensive list.  It wouldn’t be that difficult to put a list to that agency list on the other sites.  In fact, there should be a prominently displayed button on the White House page.

Also, from the couple of idea pages for different departments I looked at, it appears that you have to register to submit comments (or vote on ideas).  I haven’t done that, but given the way it’s set up I wouldn’t be surprised if you have to register for each agency separately.  (If that is true, maybe I can make a suggestion about that.)

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