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12/30/2010
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White House Reveals Plans For ExpertNet Wiki

The online tool will allow U.S. officials and policymakers to solicit input about decisions they're making from experts outside the government and from the general public.

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The White House is finalizing details for an online tool it hopes will help federal officials make more informed decisions by garnering input from the public.

ExpertNet -- the working title for the tool -- provides an online wiki in which officials can ask questions about topics they're working on so experts and others from the general public can answer them.

The administration has hammered out the online process for posting to ExpertNet and is looking for public feedback before the tool goes into deployment, according to a White House blog post by U.S. CTO Aneesh Chopra and Shelley Metzenbaum, associate director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget for Performance and Personnel Management.

While the title suggests the administration is looking only for advice from experts in certain fields of study, the White House will welcome any opinion that can help it make better decisions, according to the post.

"We believe that everyone has expertise, experience and enthusiasm which, if shared in manageable ways, will help us make smarter decisions together," Chopra and Metzenbaum said. "We want to make sure that everyone who is interested and has something relevant and useful to share has an opportunity to participate."

The administration expects the tool to work like this: officials will pose questions about specific issues they're working on using an online wizard so their questions are as clear and specific as possible. Then, the questions will be distributed via RSS feed or to online networks of professionals to elicit the widest range of response and interest from the public.

The wiki also will have a forum where officials will discuss how agencies have used ideas they've gotten from the public via ExpertNet, according to the post.

As it continues to build the tool, the White House is seeking input on design and implementation of it, which the administration aims to do as cost-effectively and with as much public input as possible. When it revealed its plans to build the tool in another blog post earlier this month, the White House said it has allotted specific funding for the platform and is hoping to use online tools it already has to create it.

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