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"A bright idea"

While a few federal agencies have developed internal communities of practice for their own workforces, governmentwide efforts to build communities only began recently. These new efforts include:

* Cport: Developed by the Navy's chief information officer and first released last August, this is a CD-based guidebook "for championing, developing and participating in communities of practice." It includes a detailed explanation of communities of practice and a step-by-step guide to getting a community started, tips on how to manage and support it, sketches of tools that help community members share their knowledge and an extensive collection of background material. An expanded version of the CD is due out by midsummer.

* Electronic regulation community of practice: One of three pilot projects sponsored by the CIO Council, this group is led by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and focuses on developing electronic filing systems for the federal government by October 2003, the deadline set by the Government Paperwork Elimination Act. Participants include representatives from 20 regulatory agencies. The group was launched in October 2001.

* Acquisition community of practice: The second of the CIO Council's pilot projects, this group was launched in February under the auspices of the General Services Administration and the Navy Department. The group focuses on three specific issues of acquisition reform: performance-based service contracting, reverse auctions and share-in-savings contracts, in which contractors put up the initial funds for a project in return for a share of the resulting savings. Participants come from 25 federal organizations, including the Justice Department, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Science Foundation and the Army.

* Indian diabetes community of practice: The third of the CIO Council's pilots, this group is still under development by the Indian Health Service (IHS), the Department of Health and Human Services and American Indian communities. Aimed at developing ways to communicate knowledge about adult-onset diabetes, which affects almost 90,000 American Indians and Alaska natives, the group includes IHS' 12 regional diabetes consultants and five professional staff members.

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