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6/15/2007 1:10:38 PM
topic: Committee Reports

Posts 2
What is the feasibility of working out an arrangement with the Government Printing Office whereby the CMO or DFO can electronically transmit FACA reports for inclusion in the Federal Depository Library System? This would ensure the widest dissemination of FACA committee reports to the American public without increasing the agency's costs.

Within the Department of Defense, we ask our committees to provide copies of their unclassified reports to the libraries servicing the Service Academies and the officer/non-commissioned professional military education programs. All our future military leaders pass through one or more of these schools and having this information for research provides them a broader education.

Instead of mailling these reports the same could be achieved if we could electronically transmitted the reports to the GPO's Federal Depository Library System -- all of our libraries are part of the system along with most major U.S. universities. This would also support the administration's E-Government initiative.
6/12/2007 4:46:43 PM
topic: Member Data

Posts 2
Discussions in the interagency task force for the CFR seems to indicate that subcommittee management will be more extensively addressed in the next CFR. If that is the case and we expect the CMS and agency to be more involved with subcommittee management then it would be nice if we could add subcommittee membership thorough the member profile instead of having to go through the subcommittee profile and keystroke all the information in again.
6/8/2007 10:15:34 AM
topic: Current system review

Posts 5
Link to Requirements Application:
edited by on 6/8/2007
6/7/2007 4:07:09 PM
topic: 5/9/07 Meeting Minutes (Interim)

Posts 29
FACADatabase Task Force Meeting Minutes for 05/09/07

1. Members Present.
The Task Force meeting began about 1:00 pm with the members identifying themselves on the phone and in the room. Georgia Abraham from DHS and Hope Grey from DOI were on the phone and Hope’s connection was poor. Vivian Drake From VA, Maggie Weber from GSA, Kathy Plowitz-Worden from NEA, Linda Anadale from DOC, Angel Saumure and Tonya James from TRES, Susanne Bolton NSF, David Cleary from NIH/HHS, and Ken Fussell as Task Force Chair were in the room.

2. Review and discuss thoughts regarding the stakeholders and constituencies identified as concerned with the structure, content, and reporting capabilities of the FACADatabase, ver. 3.

Ken began the discussion by asking if we were including everybody we should in our thinking. Ken listed the current constituencies of which he was aware and which include:
• The system was initially developed for Committee Management reporting purposes.
• The DFO role within agencies that have advisory committees was the first user identified since the DFO provides most of the system information.
• The GFO role was added since there are often agency sub-groups with responsibility for multiple committees.
• The CMO role for agencies and Committee Management roles were added. First, he CMOs had to validate the information at the end of the reporting periods, and then the CMOs and Committee Management tracked the consultation process and the committee life cycle within the system. This began from Committee Management’s perspective but has evolved with a greater inclusion of CMO needs and concerns.
• In the interest of openness and because FACA is focused on Public Participation in government we added the Public Access component.
• The White House was added as a user role when the WH Personnel Office expressed interest in 2001 and they continue to use the system.
• The Library of Congress refers inquiries to the database.
• The Congressional Research Service uses the system.
• The General Accountability Office is known to use the system as a starting point for some inquiries directed from Congress towards the activities of agencies.
• Congressional Staffers inquire and are directed to the database several times a year.
Georgia pointed out that the internal use by department officials within the agencies has increased significantly over the years, usually focused on committee membership and committee functions.
Angel reported that her agency uses the system for similar purposes and she directs people from the agency up to and including the secretary’s office to the system as a starting point when there are inquiries about creating new committees, urging the inquirers to determine if there are already committees established that are looking at similar concerns. If agency users can’t find what they need, then Angel’s office will do the research, but often still using the system as the basic tool and starting point.
Ken reported that DOI is using the current system for vacancy reports. Hope observed that the agency wants to use the system and is trying to use the system, but the leadership has no real confidence that their users at the DFO level keep the system up to date, so they ask people to produce a separate monthly report through other channels to compare to the information they have in the system. Generally they are unhappy with the result.
Linda and Georgia shared their methods for creating incentives to keep the records up to date.
Angel wondered aloud if was really appropriate that the Performance Measures should be visible to the public. This was batted around, with Angel pursuing the idea that perhaps it should be internal to the FACA community and others weighing in from various perspectives. Linda, Vivian, Georgia all commented. Ken noted that the discussion had moved away from constituencies and stakeholders but promised to return to Performances Measures and these issues in the Requirements review.
Susanne noted that we should not overlook universities and similar user groups from the public sector. At this point, since no other groups were being identified, Ken suggested that we wrap up the stakeholder discussion for now and return to it when anyone felt they had identified a new group that we had not already included.

3. Requirements Development:
Ken suggested that we continue the requirements development process by examining the current system page by page and role by role, identifying the requirements that had produced those pages and their current contents, keeping what was relevant, discarding what was not needed and adding whatever new requirements we identified.
We began with the Home page and Ken invited the task force to comment on their use of the Home Page and its links.
The group discussed briefly the contents of the Printed Reports 1972-1998 link, and noted that the link would be improved if it was more informative.
The same observation was made about the Case Digest Search.
The Up link and in truth the entire navigation system needs clarity. We need to experiment to find out what works for us as we set up the new system.
Some of the Task Force present felt that the Score 300 link was confusing in its purpose to anyone but the in crowd at the time of the ACR. Others thought the public had a right to know who was keeping the system up-to-date and current.
Logon will be changing in concept and location, since users may be able to logon from anywhere in the system when they have a need to edit data. We discussed the possibility of an automatic logon if the user hit the web site from their assigned workstation.
Ken mentioned the current aspects of the logon process that will be retained, i.e., the username/logon will be the user’s email address so that the user can be sent their password anytime they forget it, and the username/password combination is unique in the system and is linked to the user’s role and access rights.
Angel felt that when read-only data/results are presented to any users, it should be clear and obvious that it is read-only and not editable.
Kathy pointed out that the link names Search and Public Access can sort of mean the same thing to some people. The links are not clear.
Angel thought that it might help if Search was not on the Home page.
The group next discussed the Search link. Ken pointed out that in versions 1 and 2 the Search function was part of the public access concept and a user lost their rights when they selected Search, even if the committee found or selected was one that they owned. In version 3, on the other hand, the system will remember the logged in user’s rights, even when they invoked Search.
Vivian observed that simple, clean, un-cluttered pages were more visually pleasing.
Ken explained how clarifying information will be available to the users about each link and field via hidden tags on the page and how that process made the web page more use to blind users who were accessing the web pages using screen readers.
The group turned their attention to the Search Page and Ken explained the current functionality of the Search in Documents part of the page, i.e., it searches the text part of the committee documents stored online with the database. Ken differentiated the current search capability and the intended search capability in the revised system. With the current system the user searches for text, identifies the committee of interest from the text search, leaves the text search and then drills down to the agency and committee from the Explore Data link/button. With the planned system the user will search for text and will be presented with links to the relevant committees.
Kathy proposed a new search capability on the public’s behalf, a search of meetings by interest areas that would link to the committees. This could be provided either by a search with the appropriate parameters or by a set of reports about meetings that could be customized to get similar results. This generated a discussion by the group on how else the current and future database could be used if we collected data we do not currently collect, i.e., members by congressional district or political party. We will not be going that direction without a statutory requirement to do so. This also prompted discussions about how the system can be currently used to produce tables and schedules of proposed and planned meetings as well as a history of meetings held. Ken wrapped up this section by suggesting we would be coming back to Search with additional requirements as the system evolved.
The group moved on to a discussion of the Help feature, what we wanted Help to be, whether manuals were needed, how they should be named, etc., etc. Georgia thought that it would be more useful if the help displayed was controlled by rights of the logged in user and was context sensitive, so that an individual user was not overwhelmed by all the help possibilities for work they could not do and functionality they could not access. This discussion went on for quite a while.
4/20/2007 12:59:52 PM
topic: 03/14/07 Meeting Minutes

Posts 29
FACADatabase Task Force Meeting Agenda

1. Review Minutes and Contact Information.
The Task Force meeting began about 1:00 pm with the members identifying themselves on the phone and in the room. Only two members were unable to attend. Bernie Coston from the IRS added his phone information to the Membership List.
Ken Fussell asked if there were any corrections or additions to the minutes, and none were offered.

2. Review, discuss, and finalize proposed charter.
Feedback via Forum:
Ken acknowledged the task force members who had visibly utilized the online forum thus far, himself, Maggie Weber, Kathy Plowitz-Warden, Angel Saumure, David Clary and Bruce Troutman. Maggie had taken Ken’s “extended version of the task force charter” and thoroughly streamlined it. Both Angel and Kathy commented favorably on Maggie’s effort and Kathy added a few additional comments on grammar and construction. Everyone felt that the charter was pretty solid, so the group moved along to Ken’s concern that the charter required an ACR component and that a central purpose of the resulting system would be that the system support and facilitate the ACR.

ACR component:
The group clarified in discussion that its task might extend to recommending to the Director of Committee Management and the CMOs how a more flexible, less lock-step ACR be conducted. And, that, even if the group was not prepared, at the conclusion of its work, to recommend how the ACR be conducted government-wide, it remained part of the group’s charge to assure that the eventual system supported the ACR process. The ACR would have to be part of our thinking and considered for its needs and impact every step of the design and implementation process. The group moved on.

First task – Constituencies:
Ken pointed out that a component that should be included in our awareness from the very get-go was the user constituencies for the eventual system. We discussed the reality that the limited view of the constituency for the first cut of the first system imposed a constraint on the design that severely limited the eventual flexibility of the evolving system. Again, while we did not resolve what the total array of constituencies were, we did resolve to hold the issue in our awareness as we proceeded through these early months and to effectively identify an acceptable collection before we concluded the design process.

3. Review and demonstration of use of the Forum for communication and record-keeping.
Ken walked through the layout and some of the features of the Forum application.
• The RSS feature – the RSS feed works with current browsers to alert the user that a change has taken place in the application’s information. It works with IE7, which we could not demonstrate in the conference room because the computer had IE6 installed.
• Posting order – Kathy suggested that the posting order for discussion threads might be more useful if they were listed as most recent first, which reverses the order that is currently displayed. Georgia agreed. We decided to experiment with that approach.

- Requirements development
Ken explained how he envisioned the forum supporting the group in identifying the requirements. Rather than making notes about what features of the current system are useful, or what features could be discarded, or what features we should have in the new system, we could just post our ruminations to the forum. This would allow the discussions to start, develop, and perhaps even by resolved by the time we held the next meeting. We noted that David had been using the Forum for exactly that purpose during the previous week. Ken read and discussed a couple of David’s entries as examples of how the forum was going to be useful to us as a vehicle for capturing the requirements. The use of forum was for capturing the requirements was returned to many times throughout the meeting, with examples from Jim on document capture and archiving via committee website; Kathy regarding the consultation process; Maggie regarding coordination on the consultation process and regulatory development; Bruce on the use of the forum to identify the requirements and the problems, not the solutions to the problems; and Ken urging continuous use.

4. System Requirements

- Retain all the identified functionality of current system
Ken suggested that about 99% of the current system does what we want and we will be careful to avoid losing what the system currently does that we like. No objections to that opinion were voiced. The discussions used the examples already posted to elaborate on how the forum would help us. Susanne clarified how the forum permitted searching and gathering together the information and topics captured in the forum. There was some discussion dealing with the concern that the whole project was potentially so big and encompassing that it would overwhelm us unless we broke it up into manageable chunks. We discussed that and pretty much acknowledged that this was going to be a best effort based on what we already had achieved with the first version of the system and, like the first version, when we presented it to the world it would be as complete as we could make it, but there would be no reason to consider it finished and unchangeable.

- Add new requirements via Forum
As we look at the current system, when a feature we are using strikes us as important, we will note that in the forum, so that the rest of task force can interact with our observations. We will take the same approach when we notice the lack of a feature that we could use. Kathy observed that it was hard to build something without having defined what the something does or is supposed to accomplish. Ken observed that it might be more circular, we will be figuring out what we want by talking about what we want. Bruce pointed out that our development was iterative the first time around and it would be this time as well, only we will be starting with what we already have. We will put up a system and learn what else we want it to do by interacting with the system we put up, and we record our observations in the forum so we do not lose them.
Ken suggested that the process would embrace
• capturing and discussing the requirements in the forum to the extent possible and resolving some issues in meetings,
• moving the agreed upon requirements to a requirements/documentation database that would also be maintained and accessible to the task force, and
• Incorporating the requirements in the database into the continuously developing prototyped system.
The group as a whole asked for clarification on how new topics were posted to the forum and Ken demonstrated adding a new topic. We then discussed how much organization each of us has to bring to the development process. We also discussed the functionality and requirements of the RSS feed the forum has built into its design. The RSS feed can be set up to automatically alert us when new items are added to the forum. The RSS feed works automatically with the Microsoft IE 7 browser, but requires securing and installing plug ins for earlier MS browsers.

5. Demonstration of prototyping capability of new technology.
We took a look at a prototype that was built by from a revised table structure from the current system. Bruce inserted a link to the prototype into the forum. We were not suggesting that the prototype was what we wanted, but rather demonstrating how quickly something could be put together that included a lot of the functionality we were looking for. The demonstration led to further discussions of what we like in the current system and what we want in the future system. Ken and Bruce emphasized that the demo provided at this point was beyond plain vanilla; it was useless for display purposes for a specific user and was oriented to showing the new functionality we would acquire and how quickly we could produce a product.

6. Set a Time, Place, and proposed Agenda for next meeting.
We agreed that we would likely try for a meeting the week of 4/17/07.
4/6/2007 8:46:33 AM
topic: Search Capability

Posts 29
This was an email I received from an IRS user about a feature she would like to see in Search-KF.
what precipitated my request was a question by a volunteer member whose term is up this year and he was interested in other gov't advisory boards. I looked at the search feature and while that could be useful if I knew what "area" I was interested in, I like the idea of a list of the committees with a link to their charter for ease of use. It would allow visitors to browse and have their interest peaked by names of committees (at least that is how my brain works).

Thanks for the prompt reply and the opportunity to comment.

Judi L. Nicholas
Taxpayer Advocacy Panel - Program Manager
Phone/VMS - (206) 220-6099
Fax - (206) 220-5760
3/20/2007 11:13:13 AM
topic: Expanded draft of FACADatabase Charter

Posts 1
I agree with Maggie’s revisions and have only one suggestion: Purpose could be streamlined further by deleting everything after the first sentence. The background sentence is not necessary to understand the work of this committee and the last sentence is mostly a repeat of the first. If this material remains in the charter, suggest revising the last sentence to read: The Task Force will redesign the current system and develop version 2 of the FACA Database. This post was actually submitted on 2/6/07.
edited by on 3/20/2007
3/15/2007 8:58:57 AM
topic: Member Data

Posts 4
Actually, it would be nice to be able to delete a member directly from the list, rather than having to go into the individual record and then delete.

On a similar note, it would be great to be able to add more than one record without having to go back to the list each time. I seem to recall that in an earlier iteration there was an "Add Record" button on the screen when you were adding another record, so that you could save one record and then immediately add another record.
3/15/2007 8:54:59 AM
topic: Performance Measures

Posts 4
Since most of my committees are focused on grants-making, I find that I'm often putting the same information in two places, because the Performance Measures information has one general narrative section and another focused on grants. It would be great if the Performance Measures section could be designed to address this.
3/15/2007 8:50:28 AM
topic: Business Rule: New System Business Rule: Consultations:

Posts 4
Since renewal for non-discretionary committees is a little different than that for discretionary committees (no concurrance needed, for example), it might make sense to separate the two and include only those fields applicable to the specific committee types.
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