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Product framing

Ryan Johnson edited this page May 24, 2019 · 15 revisions

Teams from 18F and the Office of Natural Resources Revenue drafted this new product framing document during January and February, 2018.

Problem statement

The American people collectively own federal lands, waters, and the minerals beneath them. Transparency about how these resources are managed is crucial to public discourse and government accountability. However, data about public resources is underutilized because it often lacks contextual information or is presented in ways that aren't readily accessible or understandable to users.

Given that federal land-use data and policy declarations often assume in-depth background knowledge and can be confusing for people who don't work in a related industry, the public relies on intermediaries, such as NGOs, journalists, and elected representatives to contextualize, interpret, and communicate the implications of land-use data. It’s critical these intermediaries are well-informed with reliable and properly contextualized data.

Our vision

We are informing policy debates and raising public awareness by building the definitive source of timely and useful data about how the government manages federal energy and mineral resources, revenue, and disbursements.

Key scenarios

For more about what we know about our users from user research see our user types.

Priority works this way: 1 = mission critical, 2 = valuable, 3 = nice to have

User scenarios Product goals
Priority Scenario Priority Product goals
1 A congressional staffer needs specific, accurate data on energy production and disbursements because they need to provide support for a proposed bill. They’re able to quickly and easily find data about how much energy was produced in their state and how much revenue their state got from energy production on federal land. 1 I can find a specific number.
1 The data is accurate.
1 Production data is available.
1 I can find out how much my state gets in disbursements from production on federal land.
1 I know the site exists and can find it.
1 Once I find a number, the scope and source of that number is apparent.
1 ONRR staff don’t have to pull numbers that are available on the site.
1 I can pull numbers without having to download data sets.
1 Bob from Intergovernmental Affairs in the Office of the Secretary routinely pulls data to inform his interactions with Interior Stakeholders. He only has one week to generate a GoMESA disbursements data trend analysis to present to Gulf state elected officials. He’s able to find detailed, up-to-date GoMESA raw data to use as the basis of his analysis. 1 I can understand how revenue generated is being used.
1 Detailed disbursements data is available.
1 I can identify which disbursements are a result of GoMESA.
1 I can find disbursements data for one region.
1 I can identify when the data was last updated.
1 I have a point of contact to verify the data.
1 ONRR staff don’t have to pull numbers that are available on the site.
1 Data downloads allow me to manipulate the data myself.
1 Data documentation helps me use the data correctly.
2 Data on the site represents the latest data ONRR can provide.
2 I can spot and understand trends in the data.
1 A journalist at a major regional news outlet is writing a story about policy claims about energy production on public land. They’re able to find data about production trends both at the national and regional/state level, which helps them back up their story with accurate numbers that haven’t been influenced by personal or political objectives. 1 I trust that the data is unbiased and accurate.
1 I understand the source of the data.
1 I understand the context in order to use the data accurately.
1 I trust that the data isn’t political in its presentation.
1 Production data is available.
1 I can reference my source directly by linking to the data/fact from my article.
1 National all-lands and federal production data by state are available on the site.
2 I can spot and understand trends in the data.
2 I can tell where extraction is happening on federal land.
3 I can tell how much land is allocated for extractive activities.
1 Joe is an external liaison for ONRR. He frequently fields questions from the public and congress for questions that could be answered on the site. He looks in his databases for the answer to question first, but uses the site to verify the answer or for things he knows he can find more quickly on the site. 1 I can find a specific number.
1 The data is accurate.
1 Once I find a number, the scope and source of that number is apparent.
1 I don’t have to pull numbers that are available on the site.
1 I have an easy way to share the numbers I find with the question asker.
2 Henry is among the leadership of a tribal nation. He is concerned about the layers of bureaucracy involved in tribal land governance and is working with the federal government to simplify the process for land-use authorization. Henry is able to find information on the tribal leasing process to inform his efforts. 2 I can find an overview of how extraction on tribal land is governed.
2 It is clear how each DOI bureau is involved in leasing tribal land.
2 There are links to deeper information about sub-processes owned by other bureaus.
2 Martha is a new county commissioner in a western state with significant oil and gas production on federal land. Martha ran for county commission largely on a platform of government transparency and accountability, and she wants to know how extractive revenues from federal land are disbursed at the state and county level. Using the site, she’s able to find out how much was disbursed to her county and state each month, which allows her to hold the state accountable, advocate for her constituents, and inform public debate about extractive industry in her county. 2 The site includes state- and county-level disbursements data.
2 The site includes monthly disbursements data.
2 I can quickly find the data for my county in one place.
3 I can find jobs data for extractive industries in my county.
3 Laura works for an NGO. She’s concerned about increasing volumes of oil being transported by train through her state following a recent derailment. She wants to determine if oil production on federal lands has recently increased to help her interpret transportation-related risks to her state. She can easily find data that she trusts for oil production on federal lands. She can use that along with state production and export volumes, from other sources, to complete her analysis. 3 I can find out how much oil and gas are exported from my state.
3 I can find out how much is produced in my state, and in nearby states.
3 Sidney is a professor of public policy at a major university, and is writing an academic article focusing on how public land management balances recreation, energy production, and conservation priorities. Sidney is able to locate federal production volumes and locations on the NRRD site, and is able to use that data to inform their points in the article about federal government land-use policy. 3 I can determine the role of natural resources extraction compared to other land use.

What we are not trying to do

We won’t try to... Because...
Tell people what’s important about it, e.g.:
  • Argue for specific policy
  • Show data in ways that tell stories supporting specific policy goals
It’s our job to present the data in such a way as to inform public debate and policy decisions, not to define them. The data and context should be an accurate accounting of activities, not priorities.
We won’t provide data that could expose PII (Personally Identifiable Information) or violate trade secrets or trust responsibilities, e.g.:
  • Granular price data
  • All data for one lease
  • Payment details
  • Detailed tribal disbursements
Our work needs to comply with federal law in every way. Exposing data that could be used to personally identify individuals, expose trade secrets, or undermine trust responsibility may violate federal law and risks the integrity of the product and the DOI as a whole.
Explain how to go through the leasing and reporting process to companies. Our product reports production and revenue data for extractive activity on federal land, but it is not meant to be a guidebook for navigating the process of bidding and leasing federal land for the purpose of production. Other agencies (viz. BLM and BOEM) manage the bidding and leasing process for extractive activity on federal lands and waters and are in a better position to describe and support that process for interested parties.
Go beyond energy and minerals revenue (e.g. grazing revenue; Forest Service revenue) It is risky to dilute the focus of the NRRD site beyond extractives because:
  • It becomes increasingly difficult for users to understand and navigate the content
  • We have limited or no access to data outside of ONRR


1 = most critical; 5 = least critical

Description How we might mitigate Criticality (1-5*) Status
Could be challenging for users to discern the scope of the site and what data they can find.
  • Make sure everything on the site contributes toward the product vision
  • Be willing to add and remove content as needed to ensure the site accomplishes the product vision
1 Largely resolved
Project stakeholders treating output as a success measure, rather than outcomes (which leads to content bloat and work against sustainability).
  • Proactively tell the story of the product vision and consistently communicate project successes and the value of our approach
  • Identify an archive strategy for older content that will no longer be maintained
  • Make sure our work is responsive to observed user needs
  • Set clear metrics of success and measuring our progress towards them to tell the story of success
2 Continuing challenge
Lack of IT support for in-house technology expertise, open source development, and agile/iterative processes.
  • Make sure our team is involved in other IT projects that affect our work (e.g. data governance)
  • Continue building alliances and relationships across silos
  • Continue to seek creative compromises with IT
1 Largely resolved
ONRR team being pulled in several directions/having a lot of other responsibilities beyond NRRD.
  • One of the product lead's other responsibilities will be coming to an end soon, which should free up more of her time.
  • We’ll be backfilling two FTE roles on the team, which should relieve another team member of some of his other responsibilities.
2 Largely resolved
Silos at ONRR make collaboration challenging, and could reduce support for the project.
  • Find small, low-risk opportunities to collaborate and build trust, and build upon those (e.g. trainings/brown bags, joint user research, etc)
  • Advocate to leadership for more collaboration opportunities across parts of the org
2 Continuing challenge
Difficulties obtaining data from other parts of DOI or outside DOI. This will become more of a challenge as we shift towards being a single data portal for DOI.
  • Identify what outside data we rely on now, and are likely to in the future, and where we get that data, to assess risk and decide how we strengthen those sources
  • Prioritize what external data we need to achieve our vision in the first place
  • If the DOI data integration effort comes to fruition, that may help
  • Build alliances with other Bureaus
4 Largely resolved
A significant portion of the technical team members are term-limited, and the prospect of hiring new permanent team members is unlikely.
  • Continue to train and pair with permanent ONRR team members to build their technical skills and confidence
  • Create alliances with other technical groups within DOI to explore resource-sharing and collaboration
  • Devise a long-term plan for ad-hoc technical support (contractors, etc)
  • Keep the scope of the site small but high-value, to minimize maintenance needs while demonstrating value to the org.
  • Continue to drive home the value of NRRD to help build support for funding and staff.
3 Continuing challenge
The site already has technical debt - if that continues to grow, the site could become another outdated legacy system.
  • Explicitly identify high-risk dependencies and debt, and prioritize mitigation accordingly
  • Reduce complexity wherever possible
  • Upgrade our hardware and software within ONRR more generally so we have a more modern environment to work with
  • Stay up to date on current technologies
  • Invest a substantial amount of development time mitigating technical debt
3 Major challenge
Our work on NRRD relies heavily on fundamental support from the specific individuals currently in leadership positions at ONRR. If that leadership were to change, it’s unclear if that support will remain.
  • Continue evangelizing the value of what we’re doing to the OLT
  • Identify new opportunities to share successes within the org
  • Show how this work is part of ONRR’s core mission
1 Continuing challenge
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