Ideas for Change in America

Change.org/ideas (not the official Change.gov) is a place where people can post ideas for the Obama administration and readers can, Digg-like, vote the ideas up and down. This is how it works:

What is Ideas for Change in America?

Ideas for Change in America is a citizen-driven project that aims to identify and create momentum around the best ideas for how the Obama Administration and 111th Congress can turn the broad call for "change" across the country into specific policies.

The project is nonpartisan, and invites all political points of view. It is not connected to the Obama campaign or the Obama Administration.

Who's behind it?

Ideas for Change in America is a project of Change.org, an online community and media network for social issues, in partnership with more than three dozen leading organizations, including MySpace, techPresident, the Sunlight Foundation, Netroots Nation, Declare Yourself, Student PIRGs, Voto Latino, HeadCount, and Change Congress.

How does it work?

Anyone can submit an idea and comment and vote on others. The top 10 rated ideas will be presented to the Obama Administration on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009 as the "Top 10 Ideas for America." We will then launch a national campaign behind each idea and mobilize the collective energy of the millions of members of Change.org, MySpace, and partner organizations to ensure that each winning idea gets the full consideration of the Obama Administration and Members of Congress.

How are the top ideas determined?

The "Top 10 Ideas for America" will be determined through two rounds of voting. In the first round, ideas will compete against other ideas in the same issue category. The first round will end on December 31, 2008, and the top 3 rated ideas from each category will make it into the second round. The second round of voting will begin on Monday, January 5, and each qualifying idea will compete against the qualifying ideas from all other categories. Second round voting will end on Thursday, January 15.

What happens after voting?

Our work does not end with the voting process or the delivery of the top 10 ideas to the Obama Administration on Inauguration Day. That is rather the end of the beginning. Instead of passively hoping the administration accepts each top idea, we will select a formal nonprofit sponsor for each idea to help create a nationwide movement to lobby the administration and Congress to turn the idea into real policy.

What should my idea be about?

Ideas can be about anything that you would like to see the Obama Administration or Congress change in America. We have established more than 30 causes, but you can include in the "other" category for something that doesn't quite fit any of these.

Does my idea have to be original?

No. While we encourage you to take an original approach, you may submit an idea originally conceived by someone else. However, we encourage you to cite original source of the idea if known, and you may not directly copy text from an idea posted by another user.

There are some interesting and even good ideas there already, so look around and vote.

I really like this idea by Jay Rosen:

Pick one or two problems at a time that are well-suited to the "open call" method

"Your ideas can help change the future of the country," says the front page of change.gov. The Obama Administration cannot make good on its promise to solicit solutions from the American people by pretending that all problems are equally treatable that way, or allowing a vague pledge like that to sit there without creative action on it. And so: Obama and his advisors should select one or two problems at a time that are particularly well-suited to "open source" solutions, where ideas and suggestions can come from anywhere. They would then have to find the tools and a practical method for gathering, sifting, condensing and forwarding all that intelligence to the right people. Then it could be compared to solutions emerging in the more traditional--and bureaucratic--way.

An example might be throwing open to the tech community the problem of replacing the FBI's obsolete Automated Case Support system with new software, an effort that collapsed in 2005 and cost the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Whether my FBI example is the right kind of challenge or not--and maybe it isn't--the point is there are some problems where an "open call" is more likely to produce a useful and smart result. The Obama White House should make some smart, strategic choices to carefully frame and highlight one or two (no more than three!) such initiatives for a limited period of time to see if this method generates alternatives that may not have come to light through other means.

This idea is currently in 7th Place in Government Reform and needs 11 more votes to make it into the second round. Perhaps you can help it get there....by going here and voting.

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