Seeking Public Input on the HHS Open Government Plan for 2016–2018

hhsidealab-200By Greg Downing, D.O., Ph.D. Executive Director for Innovation in the Immediate Office of the Secretary, HHS
Twitter: @HHSIDEALab

One of the roles that the IDEA Lab and the Office of the Chief Technology Officer perform to serve the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) community, our stakeholders, and the public, is that of a ‘virtual village square’ to promote engagement of new ideas about how we do the people’s business. Nearly eight years ago, President Obama emphasized the virtues of opening up government to and of the people through his Open Government Directive.

The core factors he emphasized among federal agencies were the commitment to transparency of government business practices; collaboration among partners in service to the mission; and participation by the public with a voice of action in how their government functions. Each of these factors invoked the need for innovative practices, design of new processes, and adaption of new technologies such as social media to bring our agencies closer to those we serve. Every two years, we’ve worked across all corners of HHS to coordinate our strategies for making government more open. Earlier this summer, we called out for your ideas on getting our plan started. We’re back in the village square to engage you once again and invite you into our open government plan.

In 2009, HHS published its first version of its Open Government plan and now I’m pleased to put forth the Version 4.0 edition in draft form, for public comment. I often hear that federal government agencies are too complex to navigate and that “my idea” doesn’t have a chance of finding a receptive ear or eye. One important lesson I’ve learned from my experiences at HHS is that there are many initiatives that started with that very thing – an idea. Sometimes it’s a person with key knowledge or understanding of a problem that is the perfect fit for what we want on our team to solve that problem. I’ve often heard comments from our team that we can never predict where the best solution is likely to come from. All to say, your ideas and comments matter to us so we hope you will share them.

In our Version 4.0 plan, we address new areas of open government development including how we are making data available on our information technology and services acquisitions in response to new laws, details around our open source digital code products and services, program achievements and plans for expanding open innovation and crowdsourcing. Consistent with our past traditions, we’re featuring seven new cross-cutting initiatives as our ‘flagships’ that bring new ways of connecting government with the public to the fore.

We invite you to provide us your comments on each section of our plan here. Comments will be accepted until Friday, September 9, 2016. Later this fall we will publish our final plan for the next two years as we continue our open government efforts.

This article was originally published on HHS Idea Lab and is republished here with permission.