NAP Consultation Process: We The People

OpenTheGovernment.org posts summaries of meetings on the Open Government Partnership National Action Plan between civil society members and the administration. Summaries from the first National Action Plan can be found at OpenGovPartners.org/US

 

Participants:

Nate Lubin, Office of Digital Strategy

Matt Compton, Office of Digital Strategy

Ezra Mechaber, Office of Digital Strategy

Corrina Zarek, National Archives and Records Administratio

Remington Gregg, Office of Science and Technology Policy

Tina Nabatchi, Syracuse University

Leanne Nurse, Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation

Terri Harrison, University of Albany Center for Technology and Government

Wayne Moses Burke, Open Forum Foundation


Members of the We The People team at the Office of Digital Strategy sought suggestions for improving and expanding the We The People platform in the next National Action Plan.

 

Civil society members expressed concern that plans to build out the API would give imbalanced power to organizations with large outreach capabilities and diminish the ability of individuals to launch petitions able to meet the high threshold for response. A member recommended setting different thresholds for organizations and individuals, an option the Office of Digital Strategy is considering.

 

Another concern was the continuation of the platform beyond the Obama administration, and where it would best be housed after 2016. The General Services Administration was initially suggested.

 

Another recommendation from civil society was a study of We The People and its impact on civic engagement, public satisfaction, and trust in government. Evidence of its efficacy and usefulness would be good tools to encourage future administrations to support the project. Civil society also stressed the importance of embedding the responsiveness to the public in agency culture.

 

Acknowledging the legal complexity and complications of doing so, civil society members encouraged the addition of a commenting system on petitions, and an enhanced ability to connect like-minded users for organizing purposes.

 

The We The People team highlighted the cell phone unlocking petition as an example of We The People’s usefulness and the difficulties involved with offering quick responses to petitions that cross the threshold. The administration had not articulated a position on the right to cell phone unlocking and the petition raised it to their attention, requiring research to ensure an informed response and future action. 

 

 

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