On the National EMS conference call yesterday I heard talk of Region 2 public outreach for EMS. That is a move in the right direction, as I understand the NFMA Rule. In my reading, the collaboration mandates of the 2005 Rule do not bypass any EMS we may establish. The Rule requires our EMS to include "the land management process." This reading is why I believe that forest plan evaluation and monitoring will be addressed in the EMS as well, adding a findings of significant aspects, etc. to whatever we might have otherwise envisioned E & M. We have our work cut out for us, in order to make our work meaningful and ever-better while not once-again over promising and under delivering which will keep us in court battle Hell.
I also heard talk of setting up an intranet repository for EMS documents, spreadsheets, etc. This brings up an interesting predicament. The Data Quality Act requires that our methods, data, etc. be open to inspection, suggesting internet data and information systems. Why would we have both? Sure we’ll be exposing some half-baked stuff to public spotlights, but that might help the public better understand the complex and emergent nature of our work. It might actually help us tell our story instead of hindering us, as many likely believe. I maintain that personnel records, some archeological records, etc. ought to be the stuff of our intranet and all else ought to live in an open fishbowl of public access and engagement.
Last week I was discussing our penchant for secrecy with Steve Ruddell at our EMS training. I noted that public interest groups are always suspicious of our secrecy. Collaboration practitioners often lampoon such secrecy as Jack in the Box public involvement—where a government agency holds a public meeting, plays some music prior to popping out of box to announce something, then gathers information and feedback, only to go back into the box and pop out later to repeat the process. I think that open is better. What do you think?
Minor quibble: While we are addressing inter- v. intranet, I might as well air a concern that came to mind recently. I noticed that some files now stored in team rooms are labeled “proprietary,” owned by some of our contractors but made available to government employees via special agreement. I suspect there are moral, if not legal questions associated with the keeping of so-called proprietary information on government data storage systems. I wonder how such will fare in the court of public opinion? In the court under FOIA? Maybe what we are doing on this front is fine and good, but at least we ought to talk about it. Why not have the contractors store such on their sites, and find means of allowing some restricted access?