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Home DDC Blog Online Deliberation Expecting More from Your eGovernment

Expecting More from Your eGovernment

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The Politico ran a nice piece yesterday by Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry from Tech President about e-government in the US and the lack of platforms for the public to influence the policy making process. Expecting More from your E-Government starts with a challenge from Steve Clift:

“Isn’t it interesting that the best-designed government websites are those collecting your taxes, while the worst sites are those giving you a say on how your taxes are spent?” asks Steven Clift, a longtime e-democracy advocate.

They look at US e-government and see many applications for filing your ttaxes online and paying parking tickets, but few that ask for your input iin a meaningful way. Then they compare what we see in the US with what is going on elsewhere:

"Experiments with more participatory approaches to government are blossoming all over the world. In Estonia, for example, an official website called “Today I Decide,” launched by the government press office, allows citizens to comment on draft laws and submit their own ideas for new ones. If a majority of online voters support a draft bill, it is forwarded to the relevant government department for review. Last fall in New Zealand, the government launched a wiki (a site that anyone can edit) to solicit citizen input on the wording of a new national Policing Act before it was formally introduced in parliament."

"Similarly, in France, the Parliament Law Commission recently launched a website seeking the public’s help in simplifying laws to make them more readable and understandable. Two weeks later, more than 80 pages of comments had been submitted and published. French citizens can also participate in an online forum on the parliament’s website to comment on laws currently being considered. (Our friends at the Sunlight Foundation, which we advise, have started a similar effort in the United States, called PublicMarkup.org, around a draft bill on government transparency.)"

"In England, anyone can submit an e-petition directly on the 10 Downing Street website, and the most popular ones are featured on the site’s home page. More than 7 million people — one in 10 British citizens — have signed one of those petitions since the site’s launch in the fall of 2006. “The next stage is to enable e-petitioners to connect with each other around particular issues and to link up with policy debates both on and off government Web space,” says member Tom Watson, the parliamentary secretary of the Cabinet Office and a leader of the British government’s e-democracy efforts."

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The Deliberative Democracy Consortium (DDC) is a network of practitioners and researchers representing more than 50 organizations and universities, collaborating to strengthen the field of deliberative democracy. The Consortium seeks to support research activities and to advance practice at all levels of government, in North America and around the world.

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JPD logoThe Journal of Public Deliberation is a collaboration between the DDC, the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2), and the Center for Civic Discourse and Democracy at Kansas State University. An online, refereed journal, JPD is the flagship publication in its field, and an important catalyst for the rapid growth of interest in democracy, citizenship, and participation. Find it at http://services.bepress.com/jpd.

 

DDC eBulletin

  • Want training in public participation? Choose the courses you want to see at the IAP2 Skills Symposium in late May – http://ow.ly/KctPx Trainers include Matt Leighninger, Tina Nabatchi, Steve Clift, Anne Carroll, Kyle Bozentko, and Marty Rozelle.
  • If we gave citizens more ways to measure democracy, they would have more ways to improve it – http://ow.ly/JHmLn @TechPresident
  • Nonprofits that take advantage of new thick and thin forms of engagement can thrive – http://ow.ly/JKfdR @GatesSunlight
  • “If forms of government can be likened to operating systems, current variants of democracy are like early, primitive versions of Windows.” http://ow.ly/KQ0dg “They are neither optimally functional nor user-friendly – they are buggy, susceptible to malware, and lack desired features.”
  • The “People’s Lobby,” which allows people to generate legislation for City Council consideration, and includes a deliberative phase, starts up in Provo, Utah – http://ow.ly/L32e2
  • “Morris Engaged,” which combines education, deliberation, and citizen-led action on climate change in rural Minnesota, has been named a finalist in the Environmental Initiative awards – http://ow.ly/L2WIU @JeffersonCtr
  • The National Civic League has announced the finalists for the 2015 All-America City Award – http://ow.ly/L0AbM @allamericacity
  • Can we fix voting, a part of democracy, without strengthening the other aspects of democracy? Probably not. http://ow.ly/Krz2N And why would we, when the more participatory aspects of democracy offer so many other benefits? Unfortunately, none of those are mentioned in this piece, which is another example of why conflating “democracy” with voting doesn’t help.
  • “Rather than blame our leaders for the dysfunction, we need to change the game.” http://ow.ly/KsHDx This article includes some examples of how engaging citizens in participatory ways – and treating democracy as more than just voting – can tackle problems like climate change that seem politically impossible to address.

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