The Data.gov CONOPS provides a great deal of information regarding the governance and advisory support made available by “POCs” and “Data Stewards” and other roles engaged in populating and supporting data on the site. The CONOPS also describes how Personally-Identifiable Information (PII) is protected, both for submitters and those engaged in the governance process. As well, some existing community forums are referenced as other places to find answers, along with various other “communities” that evolve around dataset contexts.
What would be very useful, however, (and that doesn’t seem yet to be addressed) would be a means whereby direct dialogue could be established between the public and actual SMEs or communities of SMEs, associated with particular datasets. Obviously, protection of privacy and security concerns are to be considered, as are policies including those protecting the government and its citizens against undue influence during procurement processes. However, a method whereby authorized, verifiable government SMEs voluntarily participate, in a moderated, monitored and metered basis, in public dialogue…either scheduled, or on request. For example, a search on a subject yields several dataset options; yet it would be very worthwhile to have a quick, efficient and timely chat with someone intimately familiar with the information to assist in further research or utilization of the data. Likewise, instead of searching by subject or organization taxonomies, a search by expertise may yield a contact (or perhaps an anonymized background/description of expertise) and appropriate contact method for online, publically-exposed dialogue (one-time, or ongoing). In fact, a search for “expert”, “expertise”, “email” or “contacts” on the current data.gov yields no results at this time.
Many government employees (and perhaps authorized contractors) may in fact be happy to share wisdom and experience in a protected, equitable and productive manner – and perhaps some government roles would include this kind and style of participation as a basis of performance measurement (and as a basis of highlighting the great work of individuals).