Terms of Participation

1. General

2. Moderation and Standards of Conduct

3. Privacy and Security

1. General

We encourage you to participate in the discussion and look forward to hearing your ideas. The purpose of these Terms is to explain how we handle the content you submit to this site and our standards of conduct.

On this site, you can:

● View the ideas of others and comment on them

● Submit your own ideas

● Vote for or against ideas you think are most important

● Flag posts as "off topic"

Anyone can view the ideas on the site. But you must create an account—become a registered user—before you can submit, comment on, vote on or flag ideas. Your participation in this dialog is voluntary. No payments or gifts will be made to respondents. Any content you submit is in the public domain and may be reused.

Your user name

You must register with your email address. When you register with the site, the first part of your email address before the @ symbol will be your user name. You can change your user name by accessing your profile settings. You also have the option of posting an anonymous idea. Any comments, ideas or votes you post will be associated with your user name. For example, if john.doe @ domain.com is your email address, any posts or votes you submit will be linked to john.doe. Also you will be asked to verify your email address prior to participation.

You can edit your profile at any time and choose a different 'first name', which will then be associated with content you post on this site, instead of the first part of your email address.

Moderation and Standards of conduct

Standards of Conduct

Our Terms of Participation is intended to support open discussion while ensuring a respectful exchange of ideas. We reserve the option to review your ideas against these Terms before posting publicly, which could result in a delay. Ideas or comments will be removed from the site by staff if they include any of the following:

● Threatening, slanderous or obscene language

● Personal attacks

● Discriminatory language (including hate speech) based on race, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion or disability

● Sexually explicit material and other material that would violate the law if published here

● Ideas or comments that promote services or products (non-commercial links that are relevant to this web site are OK)

● Repetitive posts (for example, if you submit the same idea multiple times)

● Embedded media, such as videos or photos (but hyperlinks to such media are OK)

● Spam or undecipherable language (gratuitous links will be viewed as spam)

● Copyright infringement

● Personally Identifiable Information (e.g., social security numbers, postal and email addresses, phone numbers)

In general, we may: approve ideas; reject ideas if they violate the terms laid out in this document; or move ideas to an off–topic community if they do not violate these terms but are considered to be off–topic (see below). However, in some rare cases, we may also choose to directly edit the text of your idea in order to redact any Personally Identifiable Information (PII) (e.g., your social security number) that you may have included in your idea. We will not use this editing capability to alter the substance of ideas submitted.

Comments posted under ideas that contain PII, as opposed to the ideas themselves, cannot be edited and will be removed.

Off–topic and duplicate posts

To ensure a focused and constructive discussion, we reserve the right to move ideas, which are "off topic" or do not address some aspect of the dialog, to the Off–Topic community. Topics that are considered off topic include but are not limited to discussions of policy issues not directly addressed by this initiative.

If you're a registered user (have an account) you can flag an idea or comment as "off topic" or inappropriate. This will alert moderators to review it.

If two or more virtually identical ideas are posted, the moderator may merge the separate submissions into a single statement of the idea—that way, comments on the idea will be kept together.


By participating in this online community, you agree that any idea or comment you submit may be rated by someone else through the use of agree or disagree voting. The rating score is displayed next to the idea. A positive rating increases the score and a negative rating decreases the score. We expect everyone to follow honest voting practices. You should respect the principle of one person, one vote (you can vote for any idea, including your own, but you cannot vote for any idea more than once.) You should not enter a vote that is coerced or paid for.

People will be able to see how many votes (the net number of votes) each idea gets.

Information collection under the Paperwork Reduction Act

The Paperwork Reduction Act (PDF, 96 KB, 23 pages, November 2004, requires Adobe Acrobat Reader) requires that agency information collections minimize duplication and burden on the public, have practical utility, and support the proper performance of the agency's mission. The collection of information for this dialog and its rating (voting) functionality were approved on February 1, 2010, by the Office of Management and Budget and assigned OMB control number 3090–0288.

Questions about these terms

These Terms of Participation may be amended or modified in the future. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.

Privacy Policy

We are committed to ensuring the privacy of our users. You can view and search ideas without logging into this site but the dialog does require you to log in to post, respond to, or vote on an idea. You can log by registering for an IdeaScale account through submission of a valid, working e–mail address. We will not display this e-mail address on the site or share it with anyone outside the government site administrators or IdeaScale. The information gathered when you edit your profile is not validated, so you can enter whatever you like. Profile information is limited to a chosen first name, last name and a zip code if you choose to provide one. This information is visible to other visitors to the site. Text entered in these publicly visible fields may be subject to post–moderation.

We gather/publish information from you on this website in the following ways.

1. Information entered by you upon registration

You do not have to give us personal information to simply browse or search our Web site.

To provide you with the opportunity to interact in this online dialog, we require registration and request information to identify you when you use the site. All that is required is a valid, working e–mail address, which will be confirmed via e–mail. You may voluntarily provide a zip code if you choose, or edit your profile to provide a first and last name. Your zip code and your chosen first/last name will be visible to other users of the site, but your e–mail address is not viewable by anyone other than the moderators of this site, nor do we share it with anyone other than IdeaScale and the government for site administration purposes. Zip codes, as available, may be analyzed to determine from which areas of the United States ideas and comments are being submitted. Zip code information will be used only for geographical-type purposes for metrics, not to track individuals or link specific comments to individuals.

Ideas and comments are displayed with the first part of an email address that the visitor provides upon registration For example, if the e–mail address you use to register is john.doe @ email.com, your username will automatically be set to "john.doe." However, you may change this once you are signed in by editing your user profile and choosing a new first/last name that will override the default setting.

We collect no other Personal Information about you, other than that which you choose to provide as part of the registration process. It is our policy not to make Personal Information available to anyone unless it is required by law or as otherwise described in this policy. We do not sell, rent, exchange or otherwise disclose any of this information about our site visitors, nor is the data regarding email addresses or first and last name, if entered, exported for any reason other than if required by law or to track down repeated abusive behavior on the site.

The information you submit is for log–in purposes only. Beyond the information you submit for registration, you should not enter any personally identifiable information when you submit ideas or comments.

This is not a privacy act system of record. Your comments and ideas will not be stored under or retrieved by your email address by IdeaScale or the U.S. government users of IdeaScale.

Please note that all information that you enter into the site is stored on servers owned and maintained by IdeaScale. Therefore, although your e-mail address may be visible to government personnel who are administering and moderating this dialog, and may be used to contact you regarding your participation in this engagement, the U.S. government does not collect, disseminate, or maintain this information.

2. Information gathered indirectly to analyze general traffic patterns

In order to analyze general traffic patterns for the purpose of making these dialogs more useful to participants, the following information is logged and temporarily stored:

● IP addresses, which are the locations of computers or networks on the Internet;

● The types of browsers and operating systems used to access the dialog tool;

● The date and time of visits to the dialog;

● The address of Web sites from which our visitors link to the dialog.

We do not gather, request, record, require, collect or track any user's Personal Information through these processes, and they are only reported in the aggregate.

3. Cookies

A persistent cookie is a piece of data stored by a user's browser that helps a Web site or service such as this dialog tool to recognize that user's unique computer, and thus to "remember" you on return visits. You can remove or block cookies by changing the settings of your browser.

● IdeaScale uses an optional persistent cookies in this tool to recognize returning participants so they do not have to log in each time they visit the site.

● IdeaScale uses persistent cookies to save user login information (the user's login ID) between sessions. The user is given a choice (an "opt in" approach) to check a box to stay signed in. This is an optional convenience to you if you do not want to have to remember your login information each time you visit the site.

No personal information is saved in either of these two cookies set by IdeaScale, nor can these cookies be used to track user activities across other websites.

For purposes of encouraging participation in these dialogs and convenience of the public, the General Services Administration has requested a specific waiver of the federal policy prohibiting the use of persistent cookies. This waiver can be viewed in PDF on HowTo.gov.

Children's privacy

Because we care about the safety and privacy of children online, we comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA). COPPA and its accompanying FTC regulation establish United States federal law that protects the privacy of children using the Internet. We do not knowingly contact or collect personal information from children under 13. Our site is not intended to solicit information of any kind from children under 13.

Internet security

For site security purposes and to ensure that this service remains available to all users, this web application employs a number of generally accepted security programs to protect the security of the infrastructure, to monitor network traffic, and to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information, or otherwise cause damage.

Changes to this policy

We will also revise or update this policy if our practices change, or as we develop better ways to keep you informed about them. You should refer back to this page often for the latest information and the effective date of any changes. If we decide to change this policy, we will post a new policy on our site and change the date at the bottom. Changes to the policy shall not apply retroactively.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Privacy Policy. We encourage your participation in the discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.