What if a Congressman or Government Agency had a Community Manager?

I’m sitting here at Transparency Camp. Some of the conversations today got me thinking.

If all the data that we want opens up, standardizes, and were able to make great tools, how are we going to get folks to use them? How are we going to get folks wanting to participate in a relationship of trust with the government? You’re not going to get a rush of people just by creating the tools.

When it comes to communicating with the American people, it seems like most congressman and government agencies don’t actively pursue public response and participation into the process. They wait for people to come to them.

I live in Washington, DC so my representative to Congress is Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. My only interaction with her has been the multi-page and multi-color newsletter that I got in the mail a few weeks ago. It makes me think that she doesn’t really care about keeping me up to date about what’s going on or actively soliciting my opinion.

What if a congressman or government agencies had a community manager? This would be a person that everyone in the community knew. On the Web site, there’d be a photo of them and every possible way to get ahold of them. They’d hang out at coffee shops, bars, churches, town squares, barbershops, or any public place where their constituency spent their time. I could easily walk up to them and talk to them about what my problem is or what’s on my mind.

Or…How cool would it be if government agencies and congressmen had Get Satisfaction pages? It’d be manned and monitored by the community managers.

Maybe if there was this culture of community within Congress and the governement maybe I’d feel like it’d be more worth while for me to get involved… to check/use the great tools that are made by folks like the Sunlight Foundation or even Thomas from the Library of Congress.


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