I’d read Wiki Government and, by the end of the book, my head was swimming with ideas about the City of Worcester could do better in their use of the web.
I had trouble articulating exactly what I wanted to see in a more interactive city website…until I came across manorlabs.org, which is the website for a town of 6,500 (people, not employees) in Texas.
Basically, Manor Labs (pronounced MAY-ner, not “manner”) is a website (powered by Spigit) where citizens can submit ideas to improve the town. There are four stages from incubation (the idea is submitted and voted on) to validation (reviewed by a department head when the idea gets the requisite number of votes and page views) to emergence (the innovation team meets to discuss the idea in more detail — cost, pilot program, etc.) to implementation/aborted (either the idea is implemented, or the citizen is given a reason why it can’t be). You can watch the short video on their About page to see how these ideas get evaluated.
This website has a lot of the features Beth Noveck describes in Wiki Government: ideas that have digg-like votes for or against (see the View All Ideas tab for some examples); users are evaluated by the usefulness and accuracy of their comments (see the Leaderboard for ratings on both ideas and users); easy usability (see here for videos).
Take a look at this idea: someone suggested that the town employ a part-time warrant officer, and people responded with reasons why it wouldn’t work. Or an idea for automatic debiting of utility bills, which was successfully implemented.
You can read a WSJ article about the other awesome things this small town is doing and dream about a day when Worcester will have something similar.