Monthly Archives: June 2014

New Crowdlaw Initiative

Crowdsourcing legislation was given the nickname “crowdlaw” by students at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University, who defined it as “the application of crowdsourcing to the process of drafting legal documents, including legislation and constitutions.” A new crowdlaw group has formed in Texas to crowdsource legislation at the state level.

Glasshouse Policy,, has an innovative model that draws subjects and discussion from the public. The information forms the basis of roundtable talks among issue stakeholders. If consensus is reached, Glasshouse will draft legislation, identify potential legislative sponsors, and deliver the legislation to the Capitol for possible filing and consideration.

Co-founders Thomas Visco and Francisco Enriquez have posted on their website an example of how their process would work, using fire codes as an example. Fire codes were chosen because of the prominence of the issue after the tragic events in West, Texas.

The nonprofit is currently fundraising. Its board includes former Lieutenant Governor Bill Ratliff, Ambassador Lyndon Olson, former NFL coach and Harvard Law Review president Daron Roberts, and business law and ethics lecturer Grace Fisher Renbarger.  Their Twitter feed is

Government SocMed Manager’s Guide

The IBM Center for the Business of Government has made available “A Manager’s Guide to Assessing the Impact of Government Social Media Interactions.” Here is their description of this 38 page, 2.1 MB document by Ines Mergel, Associates Professor of Public Administration, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University:

“The report builds on Dr. Mergel’s previous two reports for the IBM Center: Working the Network: A Manager’s Guide for Using Twitter in Government, and Using Wikis in Government: A Guide for Public Managers. This new report addresses the key question of how government should measure the impact of its social media use. This question is gaining increased attention within government as agencies rely more heavily on social media to interact with the public, including disseminating information to citizens.

Many believe government has been successful in using social media over the last decade. Social media has also greatly assisted the current administration in fulfilling its Open Government Initiative to increase transparency, participation, and collaboration. Government managers now face the challenge of more effectively measuring public participation and the impact of social media outreach efforts. A key additional step involves the development of a social media strategy for an agency.

While government currently focuses on “push” techniques to provide information from government publications, Professor Mergel speculates that the next big challenge will be to measure the extent to which government actively engages the public to gain access to citizen views and expertise. Professor Mergel envisions increased bi-directional citizen participation in which agencies actively “pull in” content through new forms of social media, including crowdsourcing. In a recent IBM Center report, Using Crowdsourcing in Government, Daren Brabham discusses how government can tap into citizen knowledge via crowdsourcing.

In the report, Professor Mergel also provides guidance to government managers on how they can more effectively make a business case for using social media. The business case, states Mergel, serves as a basis for management decisions to build and allocate organizational capacity or initiate changes in its social media strategy.

Given the rapidly increasing use of social media by government, we hope that this timely report assists government managers in assessing the impact of their social media activity.”

Govlab’s Online Crowdlaw Event

This is an impressive lineup and promises to be an informative session about including the public in the creation of legislation. Quoting from their website:

Announcing A CrowdLaw Unconference – June 2, 2014

On June 2 from 6pm – 8pm EST, GovLab Academy is hosting the first of two online “unconferences” to bring together leaders and practitioners of CrowdLaw, including online legislative drafting and constitution writing organizers and platform creators.  We are organizing this opportunity to learn from one another about what works, what doesn’t and what to do better to promote the institutionalization of crowdlaw.

This peer-to-peer learning event will feature implementers from around the world who will share their experiences and join in a moderated conversation to talk about:

  1. Design: What makes for successful CrowdLaw projects: what works, what doesn’t.
  2. Incentives: How to encourage people to participate.
  3. Impediments: What are the legal, cultural, technological and other obstacles.
  4. Metrics: How to measure what works and demonstrate both legitimacy and effectiveness.

The unconference live streams will enable the public to tune in, listen and pose questions, and will be transcribed and archived after the event.

Please stay tuned for a full list of session participants and to get more information on how to join the conversation. In the meantime, to learn about some of the to-be-featured CrowdLaw projects and tools for collaborative legislation drafting, check out the following past-features on our GovLab Blog: