by on December 21, 2007 · 0 comments

Via PDF, Beth Simone Noveck, director of the Institute for Information Law & Policy at New York Law School, highlights the Peer-to-Patent experiment being conducted with the PTO in her very interesting article about using collaborative software in the regulatory process.

Our institutions of governance are characterized by a longstanding culture of professionalism in which bureaucrats–not citizens–are the experts. Until recently, we have viewed this arrangement as legitimate because we have not practically been able to argue otherwise. Now we have a chance to do government differently. We have the know-how to create “civic software” that will help us form groups and communities who, working together, can be more effective at informing decision-making than individuals working alone.

Good stuff. Here’s more.

To bring about the new revolution in governance, the next president ought to issue an executive order requiring that every government agency begin to pilot new strategies for improved decision-making. For example, he or she could require that each agency, as part of their Semi-Annual Regulatory Agenda delivered to Congress and as part of a new collaborative governance report to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), set forth at least one “Peer-to-Policy” experiment to see how it could make its decision-making practices more collaborative.

This is a good idea.

Having worked on regulatory law while on the Hill, I’m acutely aware of the failure of the Progressive Era theory of “scientific government.” A fall-back has been to focus the regulatory process on openness – something I found agencies resistant to. (I testified to Congress about this with regard to a proposed privacy law back in 2003. Start at the bottom of page 7.) Professor Noveck’s proposal could be adapted well to the Administrative Procedures Act and could revive the rather moribund “negotiated rulemaking” process.

The Institute for Information Law & Policy has itself a “do-tank.” Very clever!

A think-tanker by day, I like to think I’m a bit of a “do-tanker” by night. (It being Friday, tonight I may just put aside thinking or doing to be simply “tanked.”) The wiki-ization of every bill page on is an application to legislation of what Professor Noveck discusses.

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