Citizen Experience Design


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User experience at the dawn of Gov 2.0. The U.S. government is embarking on what could potentially be a major change in how it does business and this presentation is intended to help Web professionals understand the Open Government movement.

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  • I’m a user experience guy working for a consulting company called Sapient. I’m with the part of the company that deals with government and quasi-government clients. I’ve consulted on projects for the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.

    If you end up liking this presentation, you might also like a Gov 2.0 white paper I’ve written about The Fallacy of Control.

    There’s no reason real reason to tell you all this. In reality, it doesn’t matter what I say right now because this is the part of the presentation where you’re getting used to my voice and making sure you’re in the session you thought you wanted to be in. I’m saying all this just to be completely transparent about my immediate intentions.

    Not coincidentally, transparency’s vital to the future of Gov 2.0. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s talk about the present.

  • The traditional model has been vendor machine government:
    Put money in; get services in return
    Services determined beforehand
    Choices limited, so prices high

    The description of vendor machine government comes from “The Next Government of the United States: Why Our Institutions Fail Us and How to Fix Them”
    Donald Kettl, author, columnist, and public-policy academic

  • In 1992, Ross Perot started talking about using the Internet and its tools to support a version of Direct Democracy:
    He promised to include the public in all major decision making
    He said that his government would expose problems and options via TV, computers, and other electronic means
    And that citizens would be able to declare their preference by phone, two-way TV, cyberspace, etc.
    It’s a good thing he didn’t win; 20 years later we still hasn’t delivered on this potential.
  • On his first day in office, President Obama issued a memo on transparency and open government. While not as ambitious as “direct democracy,” it was still a major stimulant for efforts already underway to take better advantage of technology in order to improve government.
  • Historically, if you were on the wrong side of a closed door, you had transparency issues, whether there was a meeting going on behind it or there were documents there that you couldn’t get anywhere else.

    (These bronze doors displayed on the north wall of the small House rotunda in the U.S. Capitol building were designed for the main central entrance of the west front. Sculpted by Louis Amateis (1855–1913) and completed in 1910.)

  • The primary issue now is creating machine readable data and the point of that is so machines (or applications, or systems) can share information and that they can communicate with a common understanding of that information.
  • Traditionally, citizens have been observers to the machinations of government.
  • But participation means engagement. Citizens become full participants in governing.

    And engagement doesn’t stop with citizens; participation extends to government employees who need to be empowered to go beyond traditional boundaries so top-down management can become bottom-up decision-making.

  • Traditionally, government has led civic action.
  • But as part of Gov 2.0, government’s role is more to enable the public than to lead it. Citizens are more connected than ever before and with the right supporting structure, citizen expertise will be fully utilized to solve problems.
  • Let’s talk about failure for a moment.

    Anybody know what this is?

    Kudzu was introduced from Japan into the United States in 1876. From 1930s to the early 1950s, the government encouraged farmers in the South to plant kudzu to reduce soil erosion.

    Well, it turns out that the southeastern US has near-perfect conditions for kudzu to grow completely out of control. Kudzu is now common throughout most of the southeastern United States

    (It was even found growing in Clackamas County, Oregon in 2000.)

    Kudzu costs around $500 million annually in lost cropland and control costs.

    So failure of government efforts is not exactly unheard of. What might be Gov 2.0’s downfall?

  • This is what some of the data looks like up on The site includes search tools and rating systems and plenty of educational text. It’s pumped full of Gov 2.0 features.

    Before Open Government Directive, the big thing for data was that it be available fast and because of that the Administration has been dinged for the general low quality of the data available.

    After the January deadline this year, the reality is that data that was originally structured based on the needs of a specific agency aren’t always built in ways that work as a general public release.

    What has to happen next is that agencies need to start using as a part of their tactics to deliver on overall strategies. If this happens, the noise from all the complaining about the site will eventually die down.

  • This is the EPA’s effort. It includes links to a PDF version of their actual plan, names the names of the people responsible, and updates citizens on their progress.

  • What is the penalty for agencies that do a crap job responding to the Open Government Directive? There’s nothing spelled out in the text of the directive. And all agencies are expected to deliver on an ambitious set of milestones using their existing budgets, budgets that were created long before any of this stuff started.

  • Disincentives are built into agencies; government workers will need rewards for disclosing information.
  • Technology has been miscast as an administrative assistant. It’s used to store information, maintain calendars, and create presentations. It’s not considered integral to decision making and higher operational challenges.

  • Reinventing democracy will create more work for the government. Having a blog requires managing responses, posting a wiki requires tracking changes.

    Collaboration and participation will require staffing.

  • Despite all the many ways Gov 2.0 might fail, it’s also possible that the movement will reach some level of success. Let’s look at some of the reasons for hope:
  • The concept of public participation in government can be further broken down to deliberative and collaborative democracy. The great hope of Gov 2.0 doesn’t rely on deliberative democracy where the Internet is useful, but didn’t prove to be a “killer app.”

    Deliberative democracy focuses on group conversations; collaborative democracy on group solutions.

    Deliberative democracy focuses on self expression; collaborative democracy on participation.

    Deliberative democracy must assure the equality of inputs; collaborative democracy goes right to the effectiveness and quality of decisions.

    Deliberative democracy encourages diverse viewpoints; collaborative democracy on diverse skills, skills that can be applied directly toward solutions.

  • The potential of collaborative democracy
    Transparency leads directly to greater efficiency
    Support and pressure is building in all areas of society (academia, private sector, think tanks, etc.) and from elsewhere in the world
  • Open government may be a way to change the stale “small government vs. big government” argument.
  • Success won’t be binary, either this or that. If there is only a single Obama Administration, the whole movement may quickly become a distant memory, but if it sticks, it could have a profound effect on government.
  • Activist Carl Malamud is telling people Gov 2.0’s effect will be significant. In a speech at Tim O’Reilley’s Gov 2.0 Summit last year, Malamud described three major waves of change in the U.S. Government’s history.
    The first, the Founders’ Wave, started when printers like Benjamin Franklin and pamphleteers like Thomas Paine published their opinions of how the government should function.
    The government, for the first time in modern history, spoke directly with its citizens. The wave culminated with the election of populist President Thomas Jefferson.

  • The Government Printing Office opened its doors for the first time on the day Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated. It created the Congressional Record, the first official journal of the U.S. Government. This wave introduced a formal process for involving citizens in the workings of the government and came into its full force with the public commissions of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.

  • Some other countries are ahead of the U.S. on implementing Gov 2.0 solutions, although the Open Government Directive vaulted us ahead of England and Australia in terms of setting up a broader strategic structure.

    (Brick Lane in London has become the first 'Safe Text' street in the UK. the padded lamp posts have been introduced to combat the 6.5 million street injuries that occur from walking and texting.)

  • While the Obama Administration is still struggling to improve on the low quality data up on, Australia has already hit the ground running.

    This “Know Where You Live” prototype was created for a government sponsored contest and includes these datasets:
    Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006 Census
    NSW Crime Data
    Powerhouse Museum Collection
    State Records Office NSW
    State Library of New South Wales Collection

  • Many of the U.S. efforts are still a bit rudimentary. Here the Forest Service opens up their policy creation by supporting a wiki that’s being used for responses to a Webcast.
  • The Open Government Directive has helped sparked action, although most efforts are still in the planning stages

    See for more details

  • This is sign of what’s to come. EfficientGovNow comes out of academia with fiscal oversight provided by Kent State University. The site allows citizens to help select efforts worthy of getting grant money.

    Local is likely going to be where the first, best Gov 2.0 solutions will come from. There’s no money, but desperation breeds ingenuity and the forces against change have less influence.

  • Drink the Kool-Aid and go work for the government
    78 million Baby Boomer workers are approaching retirement age
    Just 45 million Generation X workers (people born between 1965 and 1980) will be available to replace the Baby Boomers
    Millennials will be promoted earlier in their careers and will dominate the workforce for the next 70 years

  • That’s the traditional model for government contractors: Try to get yourself embedded and sink your head in deep enough to feed off your client for years. I heard this metaphor when I first interviewed for Sapient Government Services, but it was presented as a negative: “Some companies try to be ticks, but that’s not really our style here …”

    A successful Gov 2.0 movement will benefit both blood-sucking and non-blood-sucking consultants. Agencies tend to outsource strategy (sometimes intentionally, frequently accidentally), but every Gov 2.0 challenge should be addressed in alignment with its agency’s mission.

    There are compelling arguments for cutting back on the number and influence of government contractors. The Federal Government employs almost 2 million civil servants and more than 7 million contractors augment their work. Some feel this is the problem, and maybe they’re right, but it’s safe to assume that opportunities will continue to exist where you can play with the government’s toys without locking yourself to a government job for 20 years.

  • Since I’m not tethered to a monolithic operating system or fascistic methodology, I tend to see every Internet-related solution as a mashup. There’s data, there’s a lightweight structure for accessing that data, and there’s an interface of some kind. Gov 2.0 is primarily a series of mashups and if you’re a wildly talented free agent who gets a thrill from harvesting clean, robust governmental data, you can cut right to the front of the line.

    Gov 2.0 folks across the world are just crazy about contests and other tactics intended to surface the brilliant developer-rock stars out there.

  • Regardless of how you get involved …

  • UNICEF saw an opportunity to use social media tools to address malnutrition in Malawi so they started a project called Txts 4 Africa

    Malnutrition metrics are simple: Age + height + weight + upper arm circumference

  • Clinic recordkeeping is almost useless.

    So the challenge was how to extract simple, but meaningful data points in a way that could inform the efforts of the government.

    You probably are aware that the fastest cell phone adoption in the world has occurred in Africa. In 1998, there were 2 million people using cell phones; by 2010 it skyrocketed to half a BILLION. There is 60% penetration among the general population, but 100% for community health workers.

  • 160 character limit wasn’t really an issue.

    They got the intended results: Government and humanitarian organizations got real-time data for forecasting, graphing, mapping, etc.

    They also got unintended results: Central system gets the data and realized that they could use the same simple system to return feedback on the child’s condition.
    Now UNICEF is applying similar solutions for food distribution in Ethiopia, neonatal health in Zambia, malaria tracking in Nigeria, and literacy in Senegal

  • Citizen Experience Design

    1. 1. Citizen Experience Design UX Work at the Dawn of Gov 2.0 Dan Willis, Sapient Government Services WebVisions - Friday, May 21, 2010
    2. 2. About Me • User experience guy for Sapient • Clients: Department of Homeland Security, FBI • Gov 2.0 white paper: The Fallacy of Control
    3. 3. Gov 1.0
    4. 4. Crazy Talk
    5. 5. Policy
    6. 6. Government should be transparent
    7. 7. Government should be transparent
    8. 8. Government should be participatory
    9. 9. Government should be participatory
    10. 10. Government should be collaborative
    11. 11. Government should be collaborative
    12. 12. #Fail
    13. 13. Unfunded Mandate
    14. 14. Open Government Directive • January: Publish data
    15. 15.
    16. 16. Open Government Directive • January: Publish data • February: Agencies create Open Government Web pages • April: Agencies publish Open Government plans and roadmaps
    17. 17. Sample Plan
    18. 18. Milestones
    19. 19. Potential #Fail
    20. 20. Potential #Fail “No civil servant gets rewarded for improving public access, but they do get attention if they give out information that could be misused.” Gary D. Bass and Sean Moulton Bringing the Web 2.0 Revolution to Government
    21. 21. Potential #Fail
    22. 22. Potential #Fail
    23. 23. “It might be just crazy enough to work!”
    24. 24. “It might be just crazy enough to work!” Deliberative Democracy Collaborative Democracy Group conversation Group solutions Internet helps Internet = killer app Self-expression Participation Equality of inputs Effectiveness of decisions Diverse viewpoints Diverse skills
    25. 25. “It might be just crazy enough to work!” • The potential of collaborative democracy • Transparency leads directly to greater efficiency (avoiding duplication and fraud, greater variety of success metrics, etc.) • Support and pressure is building in all areas of society (academia, private sector, think tanks, publishing, etc.) and from elsewhere in the world
    26. 26. A Third Alternative
    27. 27. Success Spectrum An unfunded mandate An integral, substantial with no more staying re-engineering of how power than Perot’s the U.S. government Direct Democracy works
    28. 28. The Founders’ Wave
    29. 29. The Lincoln Wave
    30. 30. The Internet Wave “...the underpinnings and machinery of government are used not only by bureaucrats and civil servants, but by the people. This change has the potential to be equally fundamental.”
    31. 31. Gov 2.0 Examples
    32. 32. Australia Data Mashup
    33. 33. Forest Service Participation
    34. 34. Some Flagship U.S. Initiatives Department of Commerce: Virtual CommerceConnect • Department of Defense: Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record • Department of Education: ED Data Express Flagship Initiative • Department of Energy: • Department of Health and Human Services: The CMS Dashboard • Community Health Data Initiative • Department of Homeland Security: Virtual USA • Department of Housing and Urban Development: Proactively Allocate Homelessness Prevention Resources Utilizing Predictive Analytics • Department of the Interior: Enhancing Information Management Capabilities in Support of Climate Change • Department of Justice: FOIA Dashboard • Department of Labor: Online Enforcement Database • Department of State: • Department of Transportation: Cornell e-Rulemaking Initiative (CeRI) Partnership • Department of Veterans Affairs: Innovation Initiative
    35. 35. Local Gov 2.0
    36. 36. How to Get in the Game
    37. 37. Drink the Kool-Aid
    38. 38. Be a Tick
    39. 39. Be a Rock Star
    40. 40. Ignore Superficial Issues
    41. 41. Address Substantial Issues
    42. 42. Malnutrition Predictor Data • Registration: 1001 70 M 24 09555123 • Malnutrition metrics: 1001 70 7.5 66.5 13.5 N N
    43. 43. More info • Videos from 2009 Gov 2.0 Summit • • Gov 2.0 LinkedIn group • The Fallacy of Control
    44. 44. Questions? • • @uxcrank • •