In addition to the public engagement efforts by DOE Headquarters, the Program and Staff Offices also provide public engagement mechanisms. As examples, two of the most notable data centers, Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)/Open Energy Information (OpenEI) are discussed below, as well as the DOE agency website.
Summary Table of DOE Public Engagement
Link to Public Engagement
Department of Energy
Energy Information Administration (EIA)
Average response time of 1 business day
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
OpenEI - National Renewable Energy Lab
Generally, respond within 24-48 hours
POC: Debbie Brodt-Giles
Department of Energy (DOE) Open Data
The DOE Open Data challenge is to deliver and receive digital information and services anytime, anywhere, and on any device. In particular, several initiatives are in progress or have been implemented to provide feedback mechanisms and two-way communications to disseminate and receive information on DOE data, analyses, and products through the energy.gov website at /.
DOE Open Data two-way public engagement specifics:
DOE Feedback/Contact: DOE provides the DOE directory and email links for general inquiries at /contact-us . It also has a feedback mechanism wherein the public can select a topic and provide a specific message to access expert assistance. This feature provides the option to request or decline a reply.
Open Data Feedback: DOE provides an email link on /data/open-energy-data for Open Data general questions.
Energy Data: The Open Data page at /data/open-energy-data has a Submit Questions about Energy Data feature which provides an email link to firstname.lastname@example.org for questions specific to DOE’s data.
DOE Social Media: DOE also provides a blog at /news-blog and facebook, twitter, and email at /data/open-energy-data, and also at /data/articles/digital-strategy for interactive communications on Open Data, digital strategy, data, etc.
GitHub Issue Tracker: GitHub is a viable interim solution for improving two-way communication, and it may even be workable as a permanent solution in the long term. DOE's GitHub issue tracking is special because of its focus on collaboration.
Events: DOE provides Open Data events such as the Energy Open Data Roundtable, with The Center for Open Data Enterprise and about 60 public/private attendees, on April 29, 2015, in Washington, DC. DOE and NIST also engaged about 110 public/private stakeholders interested in Green Button energy data standards by co-hosting The Birth of the Green Button Ecosystem developers’ day on February 6, 2015, in San Diego, CA.
Energy Information Administration (EIA)
EIA is the statistical and analytical agency within DOE. EIA collects, analyzes, and disseminates independent and impartial energy information to promote sound policymaking, efficient markets, and public understanding of energy and its interaction with the economy and the environment. EIA conducts a comprehensive data collection program that covers the full spectrum of energy sources, end uses, and energy flows. EIA also prepares informative energy analyses, monthly short-term forecasts of energy market trends, and long-term U.S. and international energy outlooks. EIA disseminates its data, analyses, and other products primarily through its website, at http://www.eia.gov/.
EIA two-way public engagement specifics:
EIA Information Center: EIA responds to an average of 20,000 customer inquiries per year through its Information Center. Customers are provided with customized responses to information and data requests, assistance with explanation and interpretation of data and conversions, referrals to EIA experts for in-depth data and information requirements, and referrals to other DOE and Federal agencies, state agencies, and trade associations as appropriate. These services are available via email at InfoCtr@eia.gov, with an average response time of one business day.
Topic-Specific Expert Assistance: The EIA Contact Us page provides a listing of topics and links that put the user in direct contact with subject matter experts.
Social Media Outreach: Besides Feedback and Email links, the public can get connected via Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, and Email Updates, which are available on the EIA website.
Children’s Outreach: The EIA website also includes an Energy Kids button that links to a page which engages teachers and children.
Events: EIA offers events such as its annual EIA Energy Conference, generally held in June. This event provides a unique opportunity to meet and network with fellow energy experts and decision makers.
Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Open Energy Information (OpenEI)
The DOE EERE OpenEI platform (http://en.openei.org/) is an open knowledge sharing platform to facilitate access to energy-related data, models, tools, and information. It is collaborative, with several data-sharing platforms, including a semantic wiki, several integrated open data repositories, a community discussion and collaboration portal, and home to numerous apps built on open data. The public can engage with OpenEI in the following ways:
- OpenEI Wiki: Linked energy information on datasets, engaging the public because all stakeholders can create an account to add/edit Wiki content on energy.
- OpenEI Datasets: OpenEI is populated with DOE generated datasets, but any users with an OpenEI account can also add new datasets to share on OpenEI.
- OpenEI Community: Active discussions and collaboration on energy data initiatives and information on hundreds of topics crowdsourced from industry and government agencies.
OpenEI had over 629,000 users in 2014, with 21,096 registered users, over 41,000 wiki pages, and crowdsourcing data for dozens of projects, like: RAPID, CSC, Geothermal Areas, wind farms, and MHK projects.
OpenEI two-way public engagement specifics:
Expert assistance: Several apps on OpenEI have “ask an expert” feedback forms that provide additional communication around specific topics. These features put users in direct contact with specific domain experts and are available on a subset of OpenEI datasets.
General Feedback/Contact: Email links to OpenEI Webmaster appear on every page for general inquiries. Users often use this to ask a variety of questions on datasets or site content. These emails are typically responded to within 48 hours.
Discussion Forums: Users can host discussions, invite participants, share information, and moderate their own topics — with or without OpenEI involvement. OpenEI includes blogs, polls, and comments. Users can comment on updates and new data that are showcased.
Community Section: Users can ask questions and receive answers from OpenEI staff. Both questions and answers are visible to all users. There are over 2,000 users a month, of which there is an average of about 30 active contributors per month There are also 26 community groups, the most active of which has 53 members. OpenEI’s Question and Answer section has received over 100 questions, many of them are answered right away with several of them resulting in new functionality and new or improved datasets.
Data Upload and Download Capability: OpenEI’s datasets section is geared to enable two-way interaction with the community. The platform enables the community, as well as DOE Programs, to upload and share datasets, add relevant metadata, and license information. In addition, it enables the community to get access to these datasets for their own use. Data owner information is available to encourage connections from the community to data owners.
Wiki-based Content and Data Development: The foundation of OpenEI is built on Semantic Media Wiki, which enables crowdsourced content and data development. Energy information and data is developed on a daily basis within the platform. For example, the Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop (RAPID) Toolkit lives on OpenEI, which allows agencies, developers, and industry stakeholders to work together on renewable energy regulatory processes by using the wiki to collaborate on regulatory processes, permit guidance, regulations, contacts, and other relevant information.
Topic-Specific Communities with Public Engagement: Topic-specific resources also exist with two-way stakeholder engagement around specific disciplines/resources. For example, the DOE Geothermal Data Repository (GDR) contains data from the EERE research, development, demonstration, and deployment (RDD&D) projects. Crowdsourced data submitted from the public to the GDR are published at no cost to the data user. Metadata from submissions are searchable and discoverable in multiple data catalogs, including the GDR catalog, the data catalog on OpenEI.org, and/or data.gov.
In-Person Trainings and Events: Events are routinely held by EERE and OpenEI. For example, the Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) hosts quarterly training, provides technical assistance through a help email on the home page, and emails stakeholders of dataset status changes. The GTO also holds an Annual Peer Review where technical assistance is offered to industry attendees. Help desks are provided at technology-specific conferences. For example, help desks for the DOE Geothermal Data Repository (GDR) at the DOE Geothermal Peer Review exist for answering questions and having in-person conversations about specific datasets.