Seattle Startup, Survey Analytics, Powers Obama’s Open Government Dialogue Site

It’s a good day for Vivek Bhaskaran. The co-founder of Seattle-based Survey Analytics, a marketing and customer relations startup that has been bootstrapped since 2004, has just scored a big win with the White House. The company’s software platform for hosting and managing feedback communities (engaging customers and gathering unsolicited feedback), called IdeaScale, is being used to power the U.S. government’s Open Government Dialogue site. Financial terms of the partnership were not announced.

Today, the National Academy of Public Administration, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and IdeaScale launched the site to solicit ideas from the public on how the federal government can become more transparent, participatory, and collaborative. This online brainstorming session will enable the White House to hear people’s most important ideas on open government—including innovative approaches to policy, specific project suggestions (including government-wide or agency-specific ideas), and any examples and stories relating to law, policy, technology, culture, and practice.

Using this Web platform, people can share their ideas and recommendations for how to make government more open, as well as vote on others’ proposed ideas. Originally designed for companies to engage with their customers, IdeaScale has gotten “a ton of traction,” Bhaskaran says. “With collaboration feedback, people and customers can hear each other while they give feedback.”

Back on January 21, President Obama issued the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, stating his goal of implementing sweeping changes in the level of participation and openness in government.

Last July, IdeaScale powered, a crowdsourcing application used at a political conference in Austin, TX, where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was presenting. That led to the White House contacting Survey Analytics about using IdeaScale to help with the open government directive. “Their job is to come up with directives to be more open and transparent,” Bhaskaran says.

The current brainstorming session will provide ideas for two more stages of collaboration, Bhaskaran says. Next, a discussion phase will occur where the top-rated ideas will be explored further. Finally, a draft phase will be started, where anyone in the public can help edit the language for the final recommendations.

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