His first day in office President Obama issued his Memorandum on Transparency and Open Governent . He explained the need for the memorandum as follows:
Our commitment to openness means more than simply informing the American people about how decisions are made. It means recognizing that government does not have all the answers and that public officials need to draw on what citizens know. And, that’s why as of today I’m directing members of my Administration to find new ways of tapping the knowledge and experience of ordinary Americans.
To further these ends, the General Services Administration (GSA) is soliciting comments through its Open Government Initiative wiki. The GSA describes the project as:
. . .a concept for next generation citizen consultation, namely a government-wide software tool and process to elicit expert public participation (working title “ExpertNet”). ExpertNet could:
1. Enable government officials to circulate notice of opportunities to participate in public consultations to members of the public with expertise on a topic.
2. Provide those volunteer experts with a mechanism to provide useful, relevant, and manageable feedback back to government officials.
Will this be the new model for public participation in rule-making?
How should it supplement or relate to the NEPA process?
Jim Fenwood is a retired wildlife biologist living in Atlanta, GA. An eternal optimist, he believes in world peace, Ivory-billed woodpeckers, and Planning Rule revisions.