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Center for Government Interoperability

Center for Government Interoperability

Citizen Engagement App

Good ideas from citizens are implemented faster
through collaboration and market incentives

Today's social media environment can greatly leverage citizen participation in government. The Center is creating a citizen engagement app and discussion forum that government, commercial vendors, and NGOs can search for feasible projects that save government money and improve citizen services.

  1. Citizens, NGOs, and government employees post suggestions to the public database.
  2. Commercial companies evaluate the ideas and can transparently submit project proposals, or even prototypes of valuable ideas they find there. They do the initial analysis work and prioritize the best recommendations.
  3. The government organization that is the subject of the recommendation may then choose to implement it.

There are also many ideas which hold no revenue potential for the vendor community, but are valuable to government so government organizations themselves and NGOs may also review citizen ideas for innovative opportunities.

Private industry, government organizations, and NGO's may vote on the suggestions' return-on-investment potential so that a prioritized list is automatically generated and posted to the Center's site.

A centralized database of ideas allows for cross referencing of suggestions and enables groups to discover each other so that they can collaborate.

Connecting ideas to implementors nationwide

An example would be a citizen recommends that a mobile app be created to help drivers who are locked out of their car, find the nearest licensed locksmith. A commercial vendor viewing that suggestion could create a prototype, propose it on the citizen suggestion database, and the state licensing board could purchase and implement the app thereby improving citizen services.

The Center evolves the citizen suggestion website concept. It brings citizens, private industry, and government into an innovative environment where good ideas are implemented faster through collaboration and market incentives.

Problems our project aims to solve

The problem we seek to solve is lack of collaboration tools that bridge the gap between citizens, government, private industry, and non-governmental organizations.

Good ideas are too slow to be discovered, shared, and adopted. This citizen engagement app accelerates government improvement and improves citizen services.

Current suggestion sites have the public vote on suggestions, often resulting in repeat voting by a single person. The citizen engagement app allows for multiple voting databases so that vendors, who can actually implement a suggestion have their own voting database, as do citizens, government, non-governmental organizations, and ad hoc coalitions. This greatly increases the value, and likelihood of success of the prioritized suggestions.

It takes the citizen suggestion concept one step further and provides an environment for transparently discussing suggestions in a public forum and prioritizing the suggestions. It adds market incentives for the best ideas creating a platform for accelerated suggestion implementation.

A common problem is that are only a few government employees who work on government process improvement within each government organization. The citizen engagement app allows ideas to be crowdsourced from vendors, citizens, and non-governmental organizations.

Additionally, it solves the problem that small government organizations don’t have the funds to implement their own suggestion process. This is solved by the fact that the app would reside on the Center for Government Interoperability’s own website allowing for the smallest of agencies or sub departments to have their own suggestions referencing them.

Because all data will be stored in a centralized database, another problem solved is the lack of cross referencing of suggestions. Lookup features in the database will help avoid solutions that are designed in a localized manner when they can instead be federated across the enterprise. Enterprise-wide thinking would be facilitated allowing collaborating disciplines to be brought together to have the ability to see each others’ contributions. The process would insure that solutions bring enterprise wide connectivity, standardization and integration. The ultimate goal is to bring self-awareness to government so that its processes can optimally align to government’s mission. Self-awareness type solutions are ones that integrate data and business processes so that parts of government understand what other parts of the organization are doing in order to act as one.

Our app provides a viral way of transforming all city, state, and federal government with controls built in to crowdsource only the most efficient ideas, transparently, and collaboratively.

Seeking donations and programmers for building the citizen engagement app

If interested in seeing this project built, and are interested in sending donations, or if you are a Python/Django developer, please contact us.


Suggestion Flowchart

Question: What Do You Propose To Do That Others Do Not?

There are several features in the citizen engagement app which do not exist elsewhere which make it a significant factor in participatory democracy.

1. Unprecedented coverage of government entities that does not leave out a single government agency.

No other organization has a method for handling all federal/state/city organizations together at the same time. Other apps only handle one organization’s suggestions.

Every government agency will be part of an integrated database thereby providing citizens, NGOs, vendors, and government employees, a place to make transparency, business process improvement, and other suggestions for any government entity in a central location. Citizen suggesters use the database to look up any government organization and have the tools to engage with that organization.

Even government organizations that do not participate in idea solicitation will be included. Hypothetical example: The local city business-permitting department managers are not experts in business process improvement, and clerks lose business process improvement ideas given to them by the public because they are not trained or encouraged to critically analyze or pass on citizen suggestions to managers. The citizen engagement app allows outside organizations, citizens, customers, and NGOs to transparently suggest a simple business improvement that removes bottlenecks determined to cause 80% of the delays in processing permits. The suggestion identifies a single in-basket that if emptied on the hour instead of daily, speeds up the office's process by 80% without additional resource or budget changes. There was not a good reason for making in-basket processing daily, as it prevented downstream staff from being able to effectively use their time to work on permits. The citizen engagement de-silos great ideas and opens them up to a broad audience.

2. It is the only app that incentivizes government engagement with citizens.

In the business-permitting example above, everyone can transparently see the suggestion and its status, including the city, so there are incentives for government to engage with suggesters and improve itself because politicians, city managers, taxpayers, news media, business owners seeking permits, and outside groups are interested in seeing such data presented in an organized platform that maximizes implementation success, collaboration, and opportunity discovery. They can study suggestions and lobby government executives to implement change. Department managers themselves will be curious to view outside analysis of their organizations and can receive email alerts whenever their organization or even department unit is the subject of a suggestion.

In summary, every government agency will have its own free citizen engagement app.

3. Quality of comments and voting is not found elsewhere.

Suggestions are displayed from several categories of suggester perspectives: (a) Anonymous unauthenticated suggesters (b) authenticated people (private info will not be disclosed) (c) authenticated vendors (d) authenticated NGOs, and (e) authenticated government employees, will have their own display columns on the website. The purposes is to logically separate out voter functionality to enhance analysis and avoid spurious suggestions.

Voter categories let users’ votes count in more meaningful ways. For example, government organizations may prefer authenticated suggestion voters over anonymous voters. Other suggestion sites cannot prevent repeat voting intended to game the system. Authenticated NGOs, vendors, and government organizations will be able to support anonymous suggesters’ ideas if they choose. Government will further engage with citizens when it sees multiple groups lobbying for the same goals.

4. Platforms for solutions are provided whereas other apps do not have anything beyond a vote count.

The citizen engagement app features pathways for vendors and citizen organizations to make concrete, detailed proposals from original suggestions in the database. The database has the capability to create links to discussion forums where each suggestion can be transparently discussed in detail by all stakeholders and status reports can be updated on the app in a publicly viewable format.

5. Unprecedented types and numbers of organizations encouraged to come together via a platform that promotes cross-organizational collaboration.

Collaboration cannot occur unless everyone can see what they have in common. This is enabled by the centralized database. The citizen engagement app stores all suggestions in a transparent database and features taxonomy capability that promotes discovery of collaborative opportunities across the nation. This can bring any combination of groups together including nonprofits, commercial developers, for-public-good civic hackers, and all types of government entities to work collaboratively on the same project. This is radically different than having a suggestion box where ideas go into a black box, only a few government executives see the suggestions, ideas are handled hierarchically, no one knows the status of the idea, and there is no mechanism for collaboratively discussing it.

Besides receiving suggestions, government can officially post ideas and meeting topics to the app and request feedback from citizens and groups. Links to forums add significant maturity to the idea discussion process. It simplifies and makes convenient, government crowdsourcing of ideas.

6. Business intelligence and data sharing for citizens

The citizen engagement app allows for suggestions to be transformed into searchable solutions that are ranked by successfulness, which can then be discovered by other organizations. The best ideas can be virally shared nationwide.

Searchable categories include transparency, business process improvement, and other user-added categories. The centralized data base can be used by all in a business intelligence sense, for example, the most popular transparency related ideas, the top ten cost savings ideas for cities, etc. Example of a sharable idea: University of Wisconsin, Green Bay discovered that using Century Gothic font could save as much as 31 percent off inkjet and toner cartridge expenses. Government printing operations could save tens of thousands of dollars simply by changing their default font.

To summarize this section, enterprise-wide search tools categorize and support discovery of cross-organizational projects. People with common goals can discover each other.

Finally, the Center looks at apps from a data modeler perspective. This discipline allows us to view data integration opportunities that exist in the back end. It is sort of an x-ray vision that helps envision a national blueprint. Most government engagements apps are stand-alone. Our vision is to continually integrate and grow interoperability in ways that are more powerful than silo solutions so that citizens and government gain agility in quickly promoting good ideas collaboratively.