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Local OpenGov Innovation Summits

Page history last edited by LucasCioffi 6 years, 8 months ago

Note: This was an experiment in 2011 that found an amazing group of 40+ local organizers in 11 countries.  The minimum number of organizers needed was 100, so the events did not happen.



"We are the ones who've been waiting for us." ~Tom Atlee


Welcome Note


The Open Government Partnership launched in September 2011 with 40+ member countries working toward national open government action plans.  The Local OpenGov Innovation Summits will be ambitious experiments to assess the level of interest in opengov (transparency, public participation, and collaboaration) at the local level worldwide.


We're currently in the middle of planning the framework for this event, and soon we'll be looking for 100 individuals who are capable of organizing an open, 2-hour meeting with local government in their part of the world.  Because these are only 2-hour meetings, we will need to have a large number of them to have a substantial effect.  With 100 cities involved, it will be much easier for each organizer to get the support they need from their local government.


As the organizer, you will design the type of meeting that is right for your community.  The goal is to simply organize the opengov community around a collective action.  All 100 of these meetings will take place in a one-week time period to have maxiumum impact.


This plan will continue to evolve as we build momentum.  Please add your questions and suggestions in this open Google Group or email Lucas Cioffi at lucas@barkbest.com to take a more active role in the Central Planning Team.



Bottom Line Up Front

As a community, we will lead by example and collaborate across organizations in the same manner that we expect from government.  A key outcome of these summits will be the inclusion of new voices and expertise from the local level in the broader opengov community.  


As a local organizer, you will design the event that is right for your city, whether it's two hours or two days.  If you are planning an event that lasts longer than two hours, you'll want help.  This page is designed to give you suggestions on planning your event.  Please feel free to edit this page to improve the plan and help other local organizers.


Table of Contents 


Planning Guidelines

Planning Resources




Create a future where local government officials embrace transparency, participation, and collaboration as essential guiding principles for successful and innovative programs.

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A network of volunteers will self-mobilize and host 100+ local summits between March 1- March 7, 2012 in order to accomplish the following objectives:

  • Build and empower communities of practice focused on open government at the local level.
  • Advance the understanding and practice of high quality online and in-person public participation by experiencing it.
  • Create and expand the infrastructure necessary to sustain a vibrant local opengov community beyond the event.

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Opportunity for Large-Scale Collaboration among Participants prior to the Summits

  • The summits in March will be very important for building/strengthening new/existing opengov communities across the world.  Additionally, the months leading up to the summit offer a tremendous opportunity for summit participants to collaborate prior to the event and organize our community's ideas and resources.
  • Whenever communities grow, new members are looking for an orientation.  One of the most powerful ways to help them get oriented would be to provide an extensive database of effective opengov practices other from local governments just like them.  There are several organizations working on building resources like this, but none is ready yet.  The Central Planning Team is working with these organizations so that they can create one interoperable system for recording effective practices and case studies.
  • The goal is that each local organizing team leader standing in front of their local government officials can point to a resource and say, "We should join the opengov movement-- look at this database of local governments that are already moving in this direction."

Event Design

  • Local Option #1 (if resources are limited): If you are pressed for time and resources, you can use the template provided below (and the other resources that will be developed over the coming weeks) to hold a simple but powerful 2-hr meeting or 4-hr summit to jump-start your local opengov community.  Taking the lead in organizing such a summit will be an opportunity for you to raise funds from local sponsors and build a great reputation as a leader in your region.
  • Local Option #2 (for teams with more resources): On the other hand, if holding a local event is useful for raising the profile of your organization, you are welcome to make your local event a big, big deal.  You can use the templates we will provide or you can develop your own event focused on opengov and promote it within our network of events.  The only requirements are that the summit occurs between March 1- March 7, 2012 and that it is held at a government building.
  • Guidelines from the Central Planning Team:
    • All events will be held in government facilities to ensure high attendance by government officials and to keep costs low.
    • Sponsors are not permitted to give sales pitches, but they should be thanked publicly, may hang signage or display brochures as approved by the local organizing team, and will have their logos displayed in the final version of the summit notes which are distributed back to the participants at the end of the event.
    • When possible, nearby summits should organize into a hub-and-spoke model with local summits occurring either before or after a larger, regional summit so that regional participants can also attend local summits:


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In 2010, there were eight experimental yet successful OpenGov Community Summits in Washington, DC to support the Open Government Directive at the federal level (co-hosted by the US Department of Transportation, NASA, USDA, GSA, EPA, and Treasury).  There were 750 participants from over 90 federal agencies and bureaus and from the private sector.  The goal of these summits is to "open source" these lessons learned and empower local organizers.


In 2011, 40+ local organizers signed up to host local opengov summits in their city, however the event was postponed because we didn't reach the minimum of 100 cities.  Click on this map to see where local organizers signed up last time:

Planned Locations


In September 2011, the Open Government Partnership launched with eight countries as founding members, showing that there is significant momentum internationally.  We expect that local organizers will be from many more countries this time.

In 2012, the frontiers are international collaboration and local governments.  The key will be creating a vibrant network of local organizers to share knowledge and support each other every step of the way.  Local leaders will name, run, and take credit for their events.  The Central Planning Team will create space for local organizing teams to share solutions in directly in a peer-to-peer fashion.

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  • How will we know if the summits have been successful? The summits’ overarching objective is to gather citizens and local government staff together in dialogue for knowledge-sharing and relationship-building.  It is not necessary to include action planning, identification of next steps, or decision-making into your local summit.  A successful outcome is raising awareness of local gov officials that they are not alone as they implement opengov programs and that they can access the expertise of the broader opengov community.
  • What will be the visible outcomes?  The summits will create a tangible outcome even before they begin.   Their occurrence in March 2012 will help to focus the efforts of the opengov community to organize a significant number of case studies and lessons learned which can prepare the way for deeper collaboration as the local community grows.

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  • September 28, 2011: Publicly announce this initiative.
  • October 31, 2011: Deadline for 100 local organizers to sign up (without this critical mass, we will cancel the events).
  • November 30, 2011: Deadline for local organizers to find a local government agency.
  • March 1- March 7, 2012:  All local summits occur during this time period.

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Keys to Success:

  • The top priority is to select an enthusiastic team leader and if you are planning an event that lasts more than two hours, we recommend you find additional members for your local organizing team. 
  • The Central Planning Team will make suggestions, but local teams will be the ones to customize their summits (anywhere from 2 hours to 2 days)
  • Each summit will be held in a government building to ensure that the local government is committed to opengov and to keep event costs low.
  • There have already been eight similar summits at the federal level in 2010 that provide a solid foundation of empirical data.
  • The central planning team will use Google Groups (for local facilitationtechnologylogisticssponsorshipteam leaders) to ensure that local organizing teams can connect with each other to share solutions and that no local organizing team has to work alone.
  • Key stakeholders will find value from the event:
    • Local Government Officials will learn how open government movement can help. 
    • Transparency Advocates will gain momentum for local accountability initiatives and increase awareness of the value of open data.
    • Public Participation Practitioners will raise awareness of public engagement in decision-making.
    • Technologists will learn about the tech needs of public sector officials and build their own professional networks.
  • The cost of admission will be affordable (suggestion of $20-$30 for one-day events) so that money is not an issue.  Rather than having tickets be free, this will increase the likelihood that people who register will indeed show up. Pre-registration is also important both as a tool for sending reminders to participants, and to give the organizing team an estimate of how many people will attend, and for receiving notice of special needs from participants (mobility requirements, translators, dietary restrictions, etc), .

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Structure of the Central Planning Team:

Key Tasks

  • Help local teams design for achievable and realistic success within their capacities.
  • Help local teams share knowledge through the Google Groups
  • Include collection of documentation and other output to make little and big successes/achievement/output visible.
  • Provide templates and recommendations for those who need learning and support for facilitation and design.
  • Keep our eyes open for gaps in local summit team’s knowledge/skills/experience and see how to support their success
  • Gather templates, materials, artifacts as we go to further support collection of documentation of our own work as a planning team so that future efforts may learn from our planning process.

Central Planning Team Structure

  • Chief Event Facilitation Coordinator (TBD): Facilitate knowledge sharing among local summit facilitators in this Google Group.  Next year, in order to build local event organization capacity, Lisa will hold an optional 2-day training for event facilitators on the East Coast and the West Coast of the US in March 2012 (local event organizers will receive a stipend to cover their travel costs, however a grant from a foundation is required to make this happen). 
  • Chief Technology Officer (TBD): Use a suite of online tools to enable event registration, event sponsorship, knowledge management (before, during, and after the summits), and facilitate knowledge sharing among local summit technology coordinators in this Google Group.
  • Chief Sponsorship Coordinator (TBD): Raise money from large sponsors and channel it to the city sponsorship coordinators.  Manage the Central Planning Team’s budget.  Facilitate knowledge sharing among local summit technology coordinators in this Google Group.
  • Chief International Outreach Coordinator (TBD): Contact opengov leaders around the world and ask them what they need to get started.
  • Chief Logistics Coordinator (TBD): Facilitate knowledge sharing among local summit logistics coordinators in this Google Group
  • Team Leader (Lucas Cioffi): Harmonize the efforts of all members of the central planning team.  Perform outreach for the event.  Facilitate knowledge sharing among local organizing team leaders in this Google Group.
  • Team of Advisors: Several dozen enthusiastic supporters have signed up to advise the Central Planning Team.  Please feel free to join them in this Google Group for advisors and team leaders.

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Structure of the Local Summit Organizing Teams:

  • Logistics Coordinator: Coordinate with a local government liaison to find a suitable government building to host the event.  Arrange for office supplies, coffee, snacks, and possibly lunch or a happy hour.  Connect with other local summit logistics coordinators in this Google Group.  Key skills: attention to detail, organized, and resourceful; previous event planning experience is a plus. 
  • Event Facilitation Coordinator: Design and facilitate the event as an Open Space or other facilitated dialogic event. Ensure that documentation (participant self-documentation or otherwise) is included.  Connect with other local event facilitators in this Google Group.  Key skills: good public speaker, and comfortable in front of crowds; previous facilitation experience is a plus. 
  • Technology Officer: Use a suite of online tools prepared by the Central Planning Team's CTO to enable event registration, event sponsorship, knowledge management (before, during, and after the summits), and connect with other local technology officers in this Google Group. Key skills: tech-savvy, resourceful, and has attention to detail.
  • Sponsorship Coordinator: Raise money from local sponsors for coffee, lunch, and/or a happy hour and to compensate the planning team.  Manage the team’s budget.  Connect with other local summit technology coordinators in this Google Group.  Key skills: cheerful and patient; previous fundraising experience is a plus and being extremely wealthy is a very big plus.
  • Team Leader: Harmonize the efforts of all members of the local team (by setting meeting schedules and agendas, helping team members remember and report back on their tasks and timelines, keeping communication going within the team, keeping track of tasks and due dates), perform outreach for the event to local networks, and connect with other local organizing team leaders in this Google Group.  Key skills: project management, sense of responsibility, and patience; previous leadership experience is a plus.

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Lines of Communication:

The central planning team will use Google Groups (for local facilitationtechnologylogisticssponsorship, and team leaders) to ensure that local organizing teams can connect with each other to share solutions and that no local organizing teem has to reinvent the wheel.

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This list will be completed toward the end of March after we get 100 organizers to sign up here.

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Sample Local Event Templates:

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Technology Infrastructure:

In general, we recommend using free, reliable, and open source tools when they are available.  The role of the Chief Technology Officer for the Central Planning Team is to provide several options for local teams to choose from.

  • Tools for planning your local summit: Local organizing teams are welcome to create pages like this on this wiki.  PBWorks was generous enough to donate the enterprise version of their software to all of us for free.  To get started, click "Edit" at the top of this page and then "request access."  We'll receive notification over email and will authorize your user account as soon as we see it (usually takes a few hours).
  • Checklists and Spreadsheet Tools: We recommend Google Docs to create spreadsheets that your team members can share and edit at the same time.  These spreadsheets can be public or private.
  • Tools for Invitations and Sponsorship: The Chief Technology Officer for the Central Planning Team is developing some tools to make it easy for your local organizing team to receive RSVPs from participants and to collect money from local sponsors.
  • Tools for Building Community: Create a group on GovLoop so that people can connect with each other on a more personal level; membership is free and members can create profile pages to describe themselves and build lasting professional friendships.  GovLoop groups are great for publishing news that is of interest to your community and diving into deeper discussions.
  • Tools for Outreach: This may be more useful as you build a community after your event, but if you have the time it can also help before your event.  Wordpress is a free blogging tool where your team can set up a blog and publish updates about your event.  If you're tech savvy, you know how to install and host your own instance of Wordpress, we recommend the CityCamp Wordpress theme.
  • Finding additional members for your organizing team: We recommend using GovLoop to search for local colleagues (see the map below for some of the cities with the most GovLoop members).  Send them a friend request and write, "Hi, I'm one of the organizers of the local opengov summit happening in [insert city] in March 2012 at http://opengov.localsummits.org Would you be interested in advising our local organizing team?"

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Tips to Organizers for a Collaborative Summit Experience:


  • Distribute Work to Team Members According to Strengths: Collaborative teams have diverse skills and abilities. During the planning phase, identify the particular strengths or skills and time available for each team member instead of assuming that everyone can do the same kind of work or has the same amount of time available.  Team leaders have complete authority to spend their budget and compensate local team members for their level of effort as they deem appropriate.
  • Top-Down and Bottom-Up: To save time, use the logistics templates and checklists on this page developed by the Central Planning Team and customize them for your event.
  • Buddy System: Encourage a friend to hold a summit in their town and and keep each other motivated. 
  • Peer-to-Peer: Connect with other local planners through Google Groups for local facilitationtechnologylogisticssponsorship, and team leaders.


  • Invite Great Participants: Reach out to all networks of potential stakeholders.
    • Public-Private: We recognize that the public and private sectors both offer valuable (and complementary) expertise on open government, so both must be present.
    • Inter-Agency: Draw from many local government agencies to maintain a diversity of perspectives.
  • Have Ground Rules: In the invitation, post ground rules such as the following: 
    • Be authentic.  Come to share ideas.
    • Take responsibility for your learning and the learning of those around you.
    • Post great notes on the wiki. If your notes are not online, then they're not shared.  If your ideas are not shared, then they're not changing the world :) 
  • Suggest a Format for Breakout Sessions: This is a participant-driven event, but some participants may not be used to leading breakout sessions.  Feel free to suggest the following format to them:
    • Start each breakout session with a quick round of 15-second introductions (otherwise long introductions will take too much of the session's time)
    • Define the topic with a question.
    • Brainstorm possible answers/solutions.
    • Build on each other's ideas.
    • Discuss pros and cons after the brainstorming has occurred. 
  • Harness Online and Offline Participation: Create online participation channels before, during, and after the summits.  Online channels are more convenient; in-person channels convey more than just words.
  • Common Operational Picture: Use a collaborative writing tool such as Google Docs during the event so that everyone can see and contribute to the notes as they develop. Many of the potential participants have never used a wiki or Google Docs—invite them test one out through an online collaborative exercise before the event; they'll find it to be a lot simpler than they would expect.
  • Use a Collaborative Exercise: Here are some examples of collaborative exercises which serve as icebreakers and fun, educational tools.
  • Build on Previous Events: Tap into the open government community that already exists locally.  Build up to the summit series with informal, social meetups or “GovUps” coordinated through GovLoop.
  • Provide Food: Food is key to maintaining energy throughout the day if your event lasts more than two hours; consider finding a sponsor to help cover these costs.
  • Celebrate: Hold a happy hour after the summit to help folks unwind after an intense day of collaboration. Socializing like this is also critical for building a sustainable community of participants for future workshops. 

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Frequently Asked Questions:

(Note: please add your questions here, and feel free to improve upon the answers)


Q: Who is responsible for organizing all these summits?

A: No single organization is responsible for organizing this series of events.  The team of central planners consists of individual collaborators and is still forming.  If you have not done so already, you are welcome to join this Google Group for local organizers and advisers to the Central Planning Team.


Q: Can my organization organize a local summit?

A: Absolutely!  Local summits may be organized by any individuals or existing organizations.  The main guideline is that they are held in partnership with a local government agency in a government building.


Q: Why must each summit occur in a government building?

The eight OpenGov Community Summits at the federal level in the United States throughout 2010 used this technique and demonstrated the following advantages:

  1. Organizers will know that their local government is receptive to opengov and willing to collaborate.
  2. This will keep costs low for participants and remove a possible barrier to participation.
  3. The host agency will be more likely to add resources to the mix, especially outreach to other government officials which is essential to a successful summit.
  4. Holding the event at a government facility makes it more likely that other government officials will attend.


Q: Are all the locations for these events already chosen?

A: Local teams can be formed in any city.  Local teams will choose their own sites, but these sites must be government facilities, as mentioned in the previous question.


Q: How long should a summit be?

A: It's your choice!  2-hours, 4-hours, full day, or two days, depending on the decision of the local team leader.  If you're the only person on your organizing team, then we suggest holding a 2-hour meeting.


Q: How much is the price of admission?

A: Local teams will determine the price of their event, collect the money, and distribute the money to pay for their own expenses.  Ticket prices should be low enough so that cost is not a problem for participants.


Q: How many people are expected?

A: Larger cities holding regional events may expect 100-200 participants.  Smaller cities may have 25-100 participants.  Local teams will decide their own target numbers.


Q: What are the objectives of the Central Planning Team?

A: The Central Planning Team's objective is simply to empower local organizing teams. Local organizing teams will choose their own objectives and outcomes.  Local opengov communities that are already well-established have different goals and needs than opengov communities that are just now beginning forming.  Local teams will have the responsibility of customizing their events to meet their communities' needs.


Q: What happens before the event?

A: The months between now and the March 2012 summits offer a tremendous opportunity for the opengov community to self-organize our networks and our ideas.  An open working group will form in March to plan the pre-summit collaboration opportunities for participants.  


Q: What happens after the event?

A: Local teams will be able to determine next steps (if any) in the weeks/months after their event.  At a minimum, these summits will create an opportunity for other leaders to step up and continue building a local community of practice that is excited about transparency, public participation, and collaboration.  Having many capable organizers makes a community resilient.


Q: What is the budget for each local event?

Local team leaders will manage their own budget which will depend on 1) any local sponsorship raised by the team, 2) ticket prices, and 3) sponsorship raised by a national sponsorship coordinator when possible.  We advise local teams to rely on local sponsorship, because that is the revenue stream that they will be able to forecast most accurately.


Q: How will national/central sponsorship be allocated to local teams?

A: Countries with many local organizing teams may decide to create a national sponsorship team.  National sponsorship will be divided on a per-participant basis so larger events will receive a proportionately larger amount of money; this provides the incentive for local team leaders to attract more participants.  National sponsorship teams will coordinate with local organizing teams in a transparent fashion.


Q: What will sponsors get?

A: Events will be supported by the efforts of the national sponsorship team, the local sponsorship team, and affordable ticket prices.  Sponsors may display signage and set up information tables at the events, but in order to offer participants the maximum ability to learn and collaborate and to maintain a non-commercial feel, sponsors will not be permitted to speak at these events.  Sponsors will be thanked at the beginning of each summit, will be listed in the invitation, and will have a logo displayed on the final reports which are generated from the notes of each summit.


FAQ Summary

This event will give our community an opportunity to improve how we work together.  The planners of this event acknowledge that we do not have all the answers, however we will learn from all participants as we move forward.  Let's make it happen!

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