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Posts Tagged ‘EPA

EPA’s national dialogue — a good start on government transparency

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EPA's National Dialogue

EPA's National Dialogue... how do you want environmental information

The Environmental Protection Agency, which has been innovative in using collaborative tools, has posted a National Dialogue on Access to Environmental Information. You can find it — and participate —

Of course, I have been watching OMB and the National Academy of Public Administration’s National Dialogue on Health IT and privacy. As I mentioned earlier, we spoke to NAPA’s Lena Trudeau about how things were going. [Hear that interview here. MP3]

There are two reasons I’m following this closely.

First, these information sharing policies are so important. I am fascinated by programs that tap into existing data. In the end, there is a lot of data out there. The big problem is that we don’t share that information very effectively. So I’m fascinated by organizations that build platforms that enable people — you, me… whomever — to tap into that data. It is why I have been repeatedly fascinated by Virtual Alabama. The Alabama Homeland Security Department essentially built a platform that enabled people to tap into existing data. But you can see it in other frameworks. It is why I’m fascinated by Facebook, which also builds a platform that enables people to share information. Twitter, the microblogging platform, is a similar site — there are a proliferation of sites that tap into Twitter data feeds to pull information together. It is why I was fascinated by the Twitter Vote Report Web site — again, tapping into data and sharing it.

So my principle would be that the EPA as they look at how to share environmental data — free it. Let it go. Make it transparent. Let people use that data on maps and Twitter feeds andFacebook… and other ways that we can even begin to expect now.

The second reason I’m following these kinds of projects closely is because I think they demonstrate a real innovation in the way government reaches out to people — democratization of government. This will win me no friends, but… I have been frustrated by the e-government initiative. I understand that it has won some awards, but… it just doesn’t do much for me. was a good initial start, but I think there are many more effective ways to deal with soliciting public comment. I still find it way too hard to find the regulation that I am interested in… and find it way too hard to find the consensus on the regulation or how people would change it to make it better. Essentially, to me it seems like we have just put an electronic face on the old paper method — people still submit comments and they get published. To make sense of them, you have to click through them. In the end, it doesn’t build consensus or really involve people in the creation of rules and regulations. And in the end, it has the appearance of transparency, but doesn’t result in real transparency, which is enabling people to see what is going on.

I would love to see an agency experiment posting a regulation in a wiki and ask people to actually edit the document the way people can inWikipedia items. To be honest, I’m not sure Wikipedia has it just right yet — it isn’t simple enough for the average use. But it gives you an idea of the realm of the possible. If you’ve never done it before, go into the “discussion” tap ofWikipedia items. Take, for example, the Wikipedia item on e-government…  and look in the discussion tab for what some people are watching… and the history tab for what has been changed. Again, I don’t think this is a perfect model — in the end, it is too complex. What I’d love to see is almost a way that you can see changes in the document and that would click through to who made them and a discussion in why those changes were made. This is somewhat complex, but it may also spur a change in how we make these rules and regulations. There are some people who will be able to make changes to broad principles, while others with more expertise will be able to suggest actual wording.

So… I think these national dialogues are fantastic ways of reaching out to more people. I can’t wait to hear the lessons learned on what works… and what didn’t work as well as they hoped.

Written by cdorobek

November 9, 2008 at 12:50 PM

Posted in EGov, Government 2.0, Policy

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Too much good stuff for a Friday radio show

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I don’t like to schedule too much good stuff for a Friday radio show because… well, let’s be honest, I think that we are all kind of tired on a Friday and do we really want tooooo much heavy lifting on the way home on a Friday afternoon?

That being said, it has been a big week and… we have lots of good stuff on Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris this afternoon.

  • EPA’s Marcus Peacock: Peacock is a CJD-fav. A little known fact — Peacock was actually the first government official to host a public blog. But he is a political who has been in government for awhile. So this is going to be the first of our “exit interviews” — seeking to tap into some of the lessons learned from those who will be leaving office on Jan. 20. In particular, Peacock has led EPA into the government 2.0 rehlm. So… we’re going to talk to him about how difficult that change is… whehter it is all it is cracked up to be is it just a lot of hype… and the role of leadership. He is a very smart guy. One quick Peacock aside: When I was at Federal Computer Week, I ran the Government Leadership Summit, which is an intimate gathering of the best and the brightest to think about how they can do their jobs better. We did the first government 2.0 conference, thanks in large part to Paul McCloskey, the former FCW editor in chief who helped run the Summit. McCloskey, now editor of 1105 GovInfo’s Government Health IT magazine, has one of the keenest minds of anybody I know. It was at that Summit that I met the EPA CIO Molly O’Neill. She got a lot out of the Summit — and used what she had learned to push EPA to try out some of these Web 2.0 activities. At the next Summit, held earlier this year, Peacock attended. He didn’t come as a speaker. He came as an attendee because he wanted to learn even more. It still is just inspiring to me that the number two guy at EPA would take the time out to look at issues in a new way. It is why I am so impressed with EPA’s radon videos — they came from front line EPA members. It is a sign of transformation. So I’m excited to talk to Peacock today.
  • Microsoft’s Teresa Carlson: I told you earlier about the promotion for Microsoft’s Teresa Carlson to head up Microsoft Federal. We will have her first interview since that announcement this afternoon. We’ll ask her about her goals, what Microsoft can do for government, and how a company like Microsoft sees the government market these days.
  • OMB’s Karen Evans… I have been going on and on and on about the OMB CIO memo…. This afternoon, we’ll talk to Evans about the memo and why it matters.
  • SBA acting administrator… talking about how agencies are doing with small business requirements.

And, of course, you get to hear my Friday Fun Day Jazz Hands.

We just may have to come back and do a Saturday show! (KIDDING!)

Federal News Radio… 1500 AM and

Written by cdorobek

October 24, 2008 at 10:46 AM

Posted in CIOs, Federal News Radio, Industry, OMB, Policy

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DorobekInsider: Hear about EPA’s radon program for yourself

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I’ve been telling you about EPA’s innovative program for eliciting radon public service announcements — a government 2.0 way of reaching out to folks. (Don’t know what radon is? EPA has info here.) I’ve mentioned the radon video program here… and here… and here… Add one more to this list…

Today on Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we had Tom Kelly is Director of EPA’s Indoor Environments Division, and Jeremy Ames is with EPA’s Indoor Environments Division, who came up with the program. You can hear the interview here. [.mp3]

They both did a really great job.

Written by cdorobek

October 7, 2008 at 5:37 PM

DorobekInsider:… a slight correction

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I told you about EPA’s remarkable program where, rather then coming up with a message to tell people, have a competition for a public service announcement — and they got some remarkable results.

I said that EPA also “created a social network” where those involved in radon issues could come together.

As Jeremy Ames of EPA’s Indoor Environments Division, who came up with the video contest, noted in the comments section of that post that EPA did not come up with collaboration site

Thanks also for mentioning project. One minor note, is actually a partner website — basically sponsored by the state radon programs, with close collaboration from industry and EPA. I don’t want to take all the credit as it was truly a collaborative effort, and we’re really pleased with the results.

In a way, that makes this even more valuable because it is creating a platform where others can come together and work together and collaborate. In the end, it is the real wonderful — and power — thing about these tools: They empower others. It is the thing I love about Virtual Alabama. The Alabama Department of Homeland Security built the tool, but local communities and other state agencies are finding new ways to use the tool. Very powerful stuff.

The other part of EPA’s radon project that I really love: There were some senior leaders who didn’t know about it. To me, that says that it is an organization that hastruly moved beyond the top-down management approach. It is really transforming — and people are innovating and trying new ways of working across traditional boundaries.

Meanwhile, we will have folks from EPA talking about the radon videos on Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris on Tuesday, Oct. 7. In DC, we’re on 1500 AM… or online anytime at

Written by cdorobek

October 6, 2008 at 10:34 PM

DorobekInsider: More on EPA’s Radon government 2.0 experiment

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Earlier, I told you about EPA’s wonderfully simple yet wonderfully innovative radon initiative. Rather then just having the EPA go out and make a public service announcement, they let users do it — and then selected the winner.

I have some additional information.

First off, I have posted the instructions and directions that were provided to people — it might make a good starting point for other agencies thinking about this kind of experiment.

On my previous post, I included the video that won, but you can also see the runners up.

The Unwanted Guest

A Radon Story

and Radon Information Video

It’s a great idea and EPA deserves a lot of credit for having the fortitude to give away some of their control and involve others.

Speaking personally, I now know a lot more about radon then I ever did.

Written by cdorobek

October 3, 2008 at 1:59 PM

Posted in Government 2.0

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DorobekInsider: EPA ahead in govt 2.0 — again… this time it’s radon

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Editor’s note: This is the first post on EPA’s radon video program. You can see other runner up videos here… and my correction to this post here.

The Environmental Protection Agency has really been at the forefront of testing out government 2.0 initiatives. I am a huge fan of EPA CIO Molly O’Neill, who is one of the best and most innovative IT leaders out there. But O’Neill has help — EPA’s Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock is one of the most forward looking senior leaders I’ve seen in government. And I think EPA is a wonderful model for precisely how to try these government 2.0 initiatives — you don’t jump into the deep end of the pool. You experiment. You empower the people who are excited by it and that excitement is infectious throughout the organization.

EPA, of course, has a unique challenge because they have to collaborate with so many people — within EPA, with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, with other government agencies, with environmental groups, with communities concerned about their particular environmental question. They need to be transparent.

They also depend on data from many different sources — state and local governments, other agencies, the private sector…

So the government 2.0 tools seem to be a great way of reaching out to all of these different organizations. (Read about EPA’s very inovative initiative dealing with Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest. FCW’s story here… and the white paper that EPA wrote up about the project can be found here.

Well, EPA has another government 2.0 coup — this time, an initiative focusing on on radon. (EPA’s radon page here.)

The challenge: Educate a whole new generation about the dangers or radon.

So rather then just creating their own public service announcement, EPA featured a contest where people created content using sites like YouTube.

No shock here: It was a tough sell within the agency. I haven’t yet spoken to the brains behind this idea, Jeremy Ames of EPA’s Indoor Environments Division. But I have no doubt that there were concerns about giving up control of the message.

But by just about any measure, it has been an enormous success. The project was done on a shoestring budget — and got people involved. And, perhaps you will think about radon — maybe at least visit the EPA radon page — — so you really know what it is?

Here is the winning video:

Ames also created a social network where government, community, and citizens discuss radon. Find that at (My favorite headline on there right now: What happens in Las Vegas will not stay in Las Vegas.)

We’re working on getting Ames on Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris. I’ll let you know when we get it nailed down.

Editor’s note: This is the first post on EPA’s radon video program. You can see other runner up videos here… and my correction to this post here.

Written by cdorobek

October 3, 2008 at 8:36 AM

Posted in Government 2.0

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