Open Government has been a major focus of President Obama's agenda. In response to the President's Memorandum on Open Government and Transparency, the Office of Management and Budget issued an Open Government Directive to ensure that all Executive Branch departments and agencies take specific actions to improve transparency and increase opportunities for participation and collaboration. The Directive also instructed each agency to develop an Open Government Plan.
While public participation and regional and interagency collaboration are already an integral part of NCPC’s work, the Open Government Directive represents an opportunity for the agency to further increase its accountability, efficiency, and effectiveness while expanding its use of web and social media technologies to interact with citizens.
Open Government Plan
NCPC's Open Government Plan is intended to help guide the agency as it implements new open government policies and practices. The plan outlines a number of planned initiatives that will provide the public with enhanced access to the agency’s records and data, and employ technology to provide new opportunities for engagement.
Some of the initiatives outlined in the plan included:
The plan was released for a 60-day public comment period in early 2011. A final plan will be published in March 2011, and updated on a two-year basis.
NCPC is committed to increasing the agency's transparency. The agency publishes monthly transcripts of its meetings, as well as a number of other agency datasets on the NCPC website. Recently, NCPC has also begun posting materials for projects under consideration by the Commission so the public has a chance to review them prior to meetings.
The NCPC Open Government Plan also calls for the additional datasets to be published online, including the agency's database of projects submitted for review.
Reaching Out via Social Media
As part of its open government efforts, NCPC has expanded its use of online and social media to communicate and interact with the public. In addition to its website and regular email newsletter, NCPC also maintains a Facebook page with daily updates, and publishes all of its videos online via YouTube. NCPC is also considering the use of other social media channels such as Twitter. This expansion into social media is helping NCPC stay more connected with its stakeholders and constituents.
Encouraging Participation and Collaboration
To help make it easier for the public to get involved in the work of NCPC, the agency has launched several new online forums to accept input regarding its initiatives. Starting with its Open Government Plan, NCPC launched a online feedback forum to collect ideas and comments using the IdeaScale crowdsouring platform.
This same platform was used to create a public comment forum for NCPC's Southwest Ecodistrict Initiative. The forum allows members of the public to submit their comments and ideas about this exciting new planning initiative -- along with images and other documents if they choose.
Moving forward, NCPC hopes to utilize other online tools and platforms to provide additional participation and engagement opportunities for the public.