White Paper: Crowdsourcing and Savings in Government


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At the beginning of his term, President Obama charged the government with ushering in a new era of accessibility and transparency in American politics with the Open Government Directive. In January 2009, he said “we will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.”

Learn about the Open Government Partnership and its global effort to raise accountability around the world by encouraging governments to:
- Share details of consultations
- Consult with the national community
- Raise awareness and encourage public participation
- Create a forum for multi-stakeholder consultation

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White Paper: Crowdsourcing and Savings in Government

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 An  Idea  Whose  Time  Has  Come   Ci1zen  Buy-­‐In   We’re  Not  Kidding:  Millions  of  Dollars   Engagement  Challenges   Innova1on   3   3   5   6   6 Crowdsourcing And Savings In Government
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 An  Idea  Whose  Time  Has  Come   Iceland tried an uncommon modern experiment in the year 2011. In the wake of a severe financial crisis, protests and near-revolution, the country was clamoring for change. The result of that outcry was Iceland’s first female prime minister and the first crowdsourced constitution. Iceland’s existing constitution was based on the Danish model that had been in use since the country’s independence in 1944. In 2011, by contrast, a council of 25 individuals convened to draft a new version of the constitution. Instead of secluding the process from its public, the council decided to take advantage of their citizens’ record 94 percent internet penetration level and use social media as a forum for feedback throughout the process.1 The most recent draft of the constitution was maintained on a government website while ongoing feedback conversation threads were managed on Facebook and Twitter pages (with Twitter prompting the conversations and Facebook logging away all of the comments). All told, the citizens made nearly 3,600 comments and over 370 suggestions to amend the drafted constitution.2 A year later the proposed constitution was submitted to an electoral referendum that easily passed public approval with a two-thirds majority.3 The draft will be submitted to parliament as a truly democratic document. The first of its kind. In a way. Because democratic values have always embraced and celebrated the will of the people. Victor Hugo reminds us of this in his History of a Crime: “there  is  no  weapon  as   powerful  as  that  of  an  idea  whose  time  has  come."4 The only stipulation, of course, is that that idea must have the ability to surface. In the business of citizen engagement, network intelligence, or crowdsourcing, ideas and dialogue can indeed be powerful in two very important ways: citizen buy-in and also millions of dollars of savings. Crowdsourcing and Savings in Government Citizen  Buy-­‐In   Government is not a transactional business – it is a collaborative business. In the early days of digital government, the focus was on creating self-service portals where citizens could renew licenses and conduct background checks. Now that sort of solution is the bare minimum: portals, platforms, and other forms of digital media are geared towards participation. Citizens can make suggestions, report damage, complaints, or make suggestions and impact budgets or taxes year- round (not just on election day). Not only does this generate great research and supporting information for various government projects, it also improves the public sentiment. 3CROWDSOURCING  AND  SAVINGS  IN  GOVERNMENT
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 Consider this: A recent Pew Internet Research study showed that 48%  of  adult  internet  users   have  looked  for  information  about  a  public  policy  or  issue  online.5  Those users are often looking to respond or engage on those particular topics and that level of participation can make all the difference. People who can contribute and be heard are far more likely to stick around and support their government the next time that they need help. NASA, one of the darlings of government organizations is leading the way for citizen engagement. When the Mars Curiosity Rover launched in 2012, it was launched with questions and dreams from an engaged public. In  just  three  months,  more  than  a   thousand  citizens  submitted  hundreds  of  ideas  for  exploration  and  questions  about   our  presence  on  Mars  to  the  Mars  Program  Planning  Group’s  IdeaScale  community.   Users asked and answered each other’s questions and then NASA created a resources page that directly responded to the questions and ideas of its community. But what’s one of the most obvious ways that the public literally buys in to government work? Taxes. And research suggests that citizens who feel heard and considered have a higher level of tax compliance: “Citizens are more willing to pay taxes when they perceive that their preferences are properly taken into account by public institutions. Along these lines, the existing evidence suggests the existence of a causal relationship between citizen participation processes and levels of tax compliance.”6 Which leads into the most important bottom-line impact: millions of dollars of savings. “Citizens  are  more  willing  to  pay  taxes  when  they  perceive   that  their  preferences  are  properly  taken  into  account  by   public  institutions.” 4CROWDSOURCING  AND  SAVINGS  IN  GOVERNMENT
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 5 We’re  Not  Kidding:  Millions  of  Dollars   In Massachusetts, the city’s 3-1-1 service is tied in with the city’s Facebook page. When residents report vandalism or ask questions in Facebook, all of that information is logged into the same 3-1-1 system. As a result the city has reduced calls to its call center by 15%. Other call centers in other cities have been able to reduce their call center costs by more than half when introducing digital forms of engagement. If  every  city  in  the  U.S.  implemented  this  type  of  engagement,  the   savings  would  be  millions  of  dollars. One of the greatest examples of government collaboration and innovation, however, is the President’s Save Award. Over  the  past  four  years,  more  than  85,000  ideas  have  been  shared   through  IdeaScale  in  this  single  project. Each year, Federal employees are invited to submit ideas that they think would save the government money and the public can vote those suggestions up and down. Each year a winner is selected from the thousands of submitted ideas that have increased efficiency and minimized expenditures. • The first year’s winner, Nancy Fichtner suggested that medications and supplies used to treat VA patients be sent home with the patients rather than destroyed. A simple suggestion, perhaps, but one that will save the American people an easy  $14.5  million   before  2014. • The second year’s winner, Trudy Givens, proposed that the government end mailing physical copies of the Federal Register to employees (and instead opt for emailing it). That’s another $4  million  saved  every  year.7 With  just  two  ideas  the  government  saved  more  than  $42M  by  the  year  2014  while  using   IdeaScale  technology. And each SAVE Award idea is another potential millions of dollars of savings. CROWDSOURCING  AND  SAVINGS  IN  GOVERNMENT “With  just  two  ideas  the  government  saved  more  than  $42M   by  the  year  2014  while  using  IdeaScale  technology.”
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 Engagement  Challenges   Launching an innovation program or a citizen engagement project presents its own set of questions and challenges. In a recent study by e.Republic’s Center for Digital Engagement, the following findings were reported: • 35%  of  agencies  and  departments  surveyed  do  not  have  a  budget for citizen engagement initiatives. • 50 % of respondents said that their biggest  obstacle  to  ge]ng  ci^zens  engaged  was  lack   of  ^me  and  staff to dedicate to new techniques. IdeaScale is a tool specifically designed to respond to these challenges. The company offers a flexible  pricing  model that can be suited to each campaign’s goals and budget requirements and every community can support unlimited ideas and comments. There is no penalty for a successful community. IdeaScale  communi^es  have  also  gone  live  in  as  liale  as  one  day from the start of a license agreement. The product is designed to be accessible and intuitive for users who are looking to moderate the stream of commentary. It takes a minimal amount of support to run and the public continues to collaborate by helping to prioritize the dialogue. 6CROWDSOURCING  AND  SAVINGS  IN  GOVERNMENT Innova1on     Forrester Research projects that spending on cloud services and innovation software will grow significantly in the next decade. The report predicts, “spending on these services is to grow from approximately $28 billion today to $258 billion in 2020.”8 IdeaScale presents a unique opportunity to governments seeking to truly democratize a citizen’s experience. IdeaScale technology allows citizens to submit ideas to a site and then vote on their favorite ideas. The ideas that have the most favorable votes bubble up to the top. Agencies and other departments can then join in the discussion by commenting on ideas and posting updates, effectively creating a community throughout the innovation process. For the American experiment to proceed, the public must always be engaged, but the added benefit of bringing them in now in the digital age is that citizen buy-in will improve while also impacting the bottom-line of budgetary savings. It’s just a question of getting there.
  7. 7. FOR  MORE  INFORMATION   sales@ideascale.com Global  /  Americas   +1  800-­‐549-­‐9198 New  Zealand   +64-­‐080-­‐099-­‐5088 Australia   +61-­‐02-­‐9037-­‐8414 United  Kingdom   +44-­‐0-­‐808-­‐189-­‐1476 1. Morris, Harvey. "Crowdsourcing Iceland's Constitution." Rendezvous. New York Times, 24 Oct. 2012. Web. 12 Dec. 2012. <http://rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com/ 2012/10/24/crowdsourcing-icelands-constitution/>. 2. Kerr, Dara. "Icelanders 'like' Their Crowdsourced Constitution." CNET News. CBS Interactive, 22 Oct. 2012. Web. 12 Dec. 2012. 3. Koetsier, John. "Icelanders Show Us That Democracy Is the Original Crowdsourcing."VentureBeat / Social. VentureBeat / Social, 22 Oct. 2012. Web. 12 Dec. 2012. 4. Hugo, Victor. The History of a Crime. New York: Athenaeum Society, 1909. Print. 5. Smith, Aaron. "Pew: Government Online Study." Pew: Government Online Study. Pew Internet Research, Apr. 2010. Web. 12 Dec. 2012. <http://www.slideshare.net/govloop/ pew-government-online-study>. 7CROWDSOURCING  AND  SAVINGS  IN  GOVERNMENT 6. Torgler, B. and F. Schneider (2009) “The impact of tax morale and institutional quality on the shadow economy.” Journal of Economic Psychology, 30(2). pp. 228-245. 7. Day, Jessica. "Four Years of SAVE Awards." Crowdsourcing.org. MassSolution, 22 Aug. 2012. Web. 12 Dec. 2012. <http://www.crowdsourcing.org/ editorial/four-years-of-save-awards/18313>. 8. Gliedman, Chip. "Industry Innovation: U.S. Federal Government." Forrester Research. Forrester Research, 31 May 2011. Web. 12 Dec. 2012. <http://www.forrester.com/ Industry%20Innovation%20US%20Federal %20Government/fulltext/-/E-RES57539? objectid=RES57539>. CROWDSOURCING  AND  SAVINGS  IN  GOVERNMENT IDEASCALE  STATISTICS 62,430 IDEAS  POSTED 1,051,482 VOTES 70,455 COMMENTS 132,281 USERS