President Obama announced Monday a new name and a new mission for the White House office charged with dealing most closely with the American people. The Office of Public Liaison is now the Office of Public Engagement. OPE, along with the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, will serve as the front door to the White House through which ordinary Americans can participate in and inform the work of the President.
The current leadership will remain to carry out the new mission and includes Valerie Jarrett, Senior Adviser to the President, Christina M. Tchen, Director of OPE; and Michael Strautmanis Chief of Staff to the Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Relations and Public Engagement. Additional staff and issue areas can be viewed at the OPE website at www.whitehouse.gov/ope.
In a video announcement about OPE, President Obama said, "This office will seek to engage as many Americans as possible in the difficult work of changing this country, through meetings and conversations with groups and individuals held in Washington and across the country."
OPE will help build relationships with Americans by increasing their meaningful engagement with the federal government. Serving as the front door to the White House, OPE will allow ordinary Americans to offer their stories and ideas regarding issues that concern them and share their views on important topics such as health care, energy and education.
In addition to its traditional White House operations, OPE will now also focus on getting information from the American people outside the Washington beltway through special public events as well as activities on the web site. The office will have a strong on-line presence, including blog postings from OPE staff and other interactive elements.
Since the beginning of the Administration, OPE has served a large role in developing White House outreach efforts whether it is a meeting with national innovators in the White House, a community health forum in Michigan or a town hall meeting in California.
The President also announced the release of the Citizens' Briefing Book - the culmination of a project begun during the transition, and an example of the innovative ways the office will execute its new mission. In January, everyday Americans submitted their best ideas for dealing with some of the nation's toughest issues. Visitors to the transition website ranked each idea and also had the opportunity to provide comments. The results can be viewed at www.whitehouse.gov/ope.