Open Government Dialogue's greatest hits

Some of the top vote-getters among the 1,800-plus suggestions submitted online

Here is a selection of the top-rated ideas proposed through the Obama administration’s Open Government Dialogue for making government operations and information more transparent. As of mid-day June 2, more than 1,800 users had submitted and voted on ideas at the Web site, with each idea automatically scored based on the number of thumbs-up and thumbs-down votes it receives.

Require 72-hour public review of major spending bills
Category: Making government operations more open
Score: 830

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) garnered a lot of votes for his idea of requiring all major spending bills to be posted online for public review for three days before Congress votes on them. This waiting period “would help to prevent taxpayer-funded outrages such as the empty ‘Airport for No One’ in the congressional district of Democratic Rep. John Murtha [of Pennsylvania] and huge bonuses for AIG executives,” Boehner writes, noting that the idea has the support of the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Sunlight Foundation.

Create an interactive federal budget Web site
Category: Making data more accessible
Score: 275

The idea is to provide the public with visual tools for sifting through the budget data.

The writer, naharris, suggests starting with basic high-level information — revenue, expense and deficit — and then enable users to find more specific information in various categories of interest. “Most people are not economists, so the information should be basic but allow users the opportunity to get technical information if desired,” naharris writes. “The ability to drill down into the details of the budget through a simple point-and-click of the mouse is where the value of this system lies.”

Centralize petitions to Congress and the president
Category: New tools and technologies
Score: 209

Members of the general public need a more systematic way to ensure their voices are heard by Congress and the president, says averym, who once worked as a congressional intern. “Every day, each member of Congress receives hundreds of letters, some through e-mail, some handwritten, asking for a response to a very small number of issues,” many of which require different members to collaborate. “Wouldn't it be more efficient for citizens to demand change collectively, through the Internet?” The writer notes that the British government has already created such a Web site.

Webcast all public meetings
Category: Making government operations more open
Score: 198

Any meeting that is required to be open to the public should be available online, writes Mike. “Board meetings are where some of the most important decisions are made by our government,” Mike writes. “Allow the American people access to the decision-making process by requiring all of these meetings to be webcast on the Internet both live and on-demand.” The writer points out that New York took that step in 2007, further requiring that the webcasts be accessible to broadband and dial-up users and that videos be available with closed captioning within seven days.

About the Author

John S. Monroe is the editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week.

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