Hillary Clinton Launches E-Suggestion Box..’The Secretary is Listening’

Feb 10, 2009 6:46pm

ABC News’ Kirit Radia reports:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has started a suggestion box on the State Department’s internal intranet site called "The Sounding Board," which appears to be a message board where ideas can be raised and commented on. Ideas can also be emailed privately to the "Secretary’s Suggestion Box."

Employees who open up the State Dept’s intranet homepage are greeted with a graphic declaring "The Sounding Board, The Secretary is Listening." A similar space is in the works for USAID.

Oddly, the site, which appears to have been launched Monday, has not yet been announced internally and it seems very few employees here know it is up and running.

"The Sounding Board is a place where I hope we can all engage in sharing creative and collaborative ideas to make our agency smarter, more efficient, and more effective," Clinton wrote yesterday in an opening post, a screen shot of which was provided to ABC News.

"Ideas will be reviewed to determine their potential and will be presented to Department management for consideration and formal response. Secretary Clinton and other senior Department officials will consider both the initial proposal and the management response to determine if additional action is necessary," the site says.

"This is your space to start this conversation. Secretary Clinton is listening and wants to hear from you," it adds.

Secretary Clinton pledged to run a department that is open to new ideas during remarks to employees when she first entered the department’s Foggy Bottom headquarters as Secretary of State, an idea that was met with whoops of approval.

Clinton hinted at the site’s creation during a Town Hall meeting with employees last week. "I want and need to hear from you, and that is not an idle invitation but an urgent request. We want to continue the dialogue we’re beginning today, and in fact, we’re creating a space on the Intranet website for you to generate your own ideas and engage in conversations with the whole Department," she told the assembled.

Employees are encouraged to submit ideas (which can be done anonymously) about how to improve the department. "The Sounding Board is designed to solicit your ideas and suggestion for Department innovations and reform. The goal is to provide clear and well-defined proposals for review and action by Department management," according to the "Guidelines" section of the site, which is maintained by the Bureau of Information and Resource Management’s Office of eDiplomacy.

What are they looking for? Ideas that have "enterprise-wide application," according to the same section. "Who will benefit? How will it improve overall performance? What savings with the Department or posts realize?"

Just before telling employees to avoid "gratuitous acronyms, jargon, and inside references" in posts to the site, it offers this clunky warning: "During this exciting time of change and innovation there are still existing challenges and obstacles. Remember — it’s good to think outside the box. But in a world composed of multiple boxes, one nestled inside another, it is important to check around and see why the box you want to bust out of is already re-taped on one side or another. This is the challenge."

"The Sounding Board is not a chat room, venting forum, or advice column," it continues. "It is a place to begin discussing solutions."

UPDATE: The State Department said on Wednesday that employees were in fact notified of The Sounding Board’s launch on Saturday and again by email on Monday. "The secretary has already received a significant number of submissions," said spokesman Richard Aker.

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