Key Area to Consider in Open Government Planning: Stakeholder Management

SECTION ONE: Importance of Stakeholder Management Issues in Open Government Planning

As many of the previous blog posts indicate, the Open Government directive is a cross-functional, and hence cross-organizational initiative. Notwithstanding this clear need for proactive stakeholder management, the cultural, technological, and political shifts that must take place for Open Government to be successfully implemented in and of themselves merit significant stakeholder management activities to take place. As with any successful change management plan, a baseline set of expectations and perceptions must be collected from all stakeholders. This creates a roadmap that can direct and enable an Agency’s Open Government management team to analyze and address significant gaps or misperceptions in stakeholders’ minds.

The most important part of addressing these misperceptions is properly framing the response. Any such plan must frame the benefits of Open Gov from the perspective of the stakeholder; what utility does this bring my organization, how can this benefit the mission?

Stakeholder management activities must also occur on a frequent and regular basis. In order to create stakeholder buy-in, they must feel that they have had a significant impact on the outcome of Open Government planning and implementation outcomes. In order to achieve this, stakeholders should be engaged before strategy and implementation frameworks are finalized, and given responses to their input as to why it was or was not used. Moreover, they should be informed of Open Government activities on an ongoing basis as development and implementation work takes place, especially in regards to highlighting the successes and returns that an Agency has received through its Open Government efforts.

SECTION TWO: Linkages with the Open Government Directive

The Open Government directive does not explicitly state the need for stakeholder management activities to take place, but it is certainly implied through many of the reporting requirements. For example, the requirement that an Agency explain in detail how it will improve participation will require an Open Government project team to interact with all of the necessary parts of an organization that participative tools or activities may touch. Without doing so, an explanation may be given to OMB that internal stakeholders do not agree on, and hence will not support to put into action.

Furthermore, such discussions may illustrate new or novel ways in which a requirement can be addressed, while providing a public facing tool or dataset that brings utility to citizens. Essentially, stakeholder management activities open the possibility of an Open Government management team finding solutions to complex problems by engaging personnel with differing points of view.