digress.it site wins Whitehouse award for Leadership, Governance, and Culture Change

Good news! We’ve just heard that the US Department of Transportation has won a Leading Practices Award for Leadership, Governance, and Culture Change. Why is this interesting to us? It’s because the DOT won the award based on their work with Cornell’s Regulation Room, a site that Eddie Tejeda has built using digress.it, the WordPress plugin that the JISCPress project bootstrapped and continues to work on.

Regulation Room is a collaborative project between Cornell University and a number of US federal agencies to solicit comments from the public on draft legislation.

The site is a pilot project that provides an online environment for people and groups to learn about, discuss, and react to selected rules(regulations) proposed by federal agencies.  It expands the types of public input available to agencies in the rulemaking process, while serving as a teaching and research platform.

We’re really pleased to see what Eddie and Cornell continue to do with digress.it and it’s rewarding to see that the Whitehouse recognise the significance of the project and, implicitly, the underlying technologies, too. From the Whitehouse press release:

These Awards recognize those agencies, as selected by their peers, that have outlined the best and most innovative strategies for promoting open government over the next two years. There are four categories of awards corresponding to each of the major goals of the Open Government agenda:

  • Leadership, Governance, and Culture Change
  • Transparency
  • Participation and Collaboration
  • Flagship Initiative

Awards were determined on the basis of evaluation of the plans against the definition of “Leading Practice” by the agencies themselves. Leading Practices are meant to inspire a “race to the top” among government agencies for greater openness and innovation. These awards represent the very best of the best in Open Government Plans — exemplary of the high levels of creativity and innovation that can be found in the open government activities of our Federal agencies today.

Hopefully, this US example, will inspire a similar initiative in the UK. We recently applied for funding to work with a couple of UK government departments on ‘commentable document’ platforms, but our Expression of Interest was declined by the EPSRC.

For those of you who are following the development of digress.it, the Regulation Room site is running the latest digress.it code, which will be available in the next update to the open source plugin. The next release will be more modular and allow developers to lay their own styling over a digress.it site. The Regulation Room site is an example of this, with Cornell’s design sitting on top of the digress.it base. We’ll be testing the new code over the next couple of weeks.