Archive for February 2009
If you want to meet the press in the government market, you have an opportunity Tuesday morning at the Tower Club in Tysons Corner, VA.
Welz & Weisel Communications is sponsoring a government media networking reception Feb. 24 — and there will be all sorts of people there. You can get the complete rundown after the break… but I’ll be there along with John Meyer, Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s manager of sales and operations. But there will also be folks there from the 1105 Government Information Group … Government Executive and NextGov … AFCEA’s Signal magazine…
Most read items DorobekInsider.com items for the third week of February 2009:
- FCW’s 2009 Federal 100 Awards
- WhiteHouse.gov begins testing out comments
- 02.12.2009 Obama CTO reader: Will we ever see appointments?
- Tracking recovery.gov — many questions from agencies … and Virginia’s stimulus Web portal garners 1,861 suggestions
- GSA administrator — a nominee just around the corner? Or will Prouty stay around?
- Lessons learned from the National Academy’s National Dialogue — a way to tap into the power of us? ( I should note that you can hear Lena Trudeau of the National Academy of Public Administration talk about the report from Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris . Hear that conversation here .)
- HHS’s PandemicFlu.gov: Asking for help
- HHS’s PandemicFlu.gov asks for help — and gets more than 100 responses
- Learning about more the 2009 Fed 100 winners: EPA’s O’Neill and McCaffery win
- Another White House score: GSA’s Bev Godwin… and insights on why there is an announcement backlog
- FCW’s Fed 100 Awards: Recognizing the good work done by people… nominations open for the annual award program
- Another Fed 100 name: Microsoft Federal’s Teresa Carlson
- The Kundra appointment: What does it mean
- Welcome to 44 — President Barack Obama… and a new White House blog!
- HUD CIO Lisa Schlosser to join to EPA
- Fed 100 winners are notified, list posted soon
- DorobekInsider’s Public CIO magazine column: Obama Administration May Speed Up Federal Use of Web 2.0
- CQ for sale… if the price is right
- Fed 100 winner: Scott Burns
- VA brings transparency to stimulus requests — and we hear from a Obama CTO candidate?
- More changes at 1105 GovInfo — Group publisher Evillee Ebb exits
- More buzz around the new acting GSA administrator
- WhiteHouse.gov litmus test… and the White House tries out live blogging
- EPA’s remarkable Marcus Peacock “On Change”
- Godspeed John Gioia Nov. 11, 1932-Dec. 26, 2008
- Hear the Navy CIO talk about the Navy’s 2.0 policy
- Happy birthday to… Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Amy Morris
- The next Federal News Radio Book Club selection: What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis
- ConnellyWorks’ A.J. Guenther scores AFCEA recognition
- NAPA’s Collaboration Project helps with government 2.0 policy and legal issues — highlighting the problems and starting the work on solutions
- Most read DorobekInsider.com items for t
- No CTO, but Team Obama a ‘director of citizen participation’
- Navy out with one of the first Web 2.0 policy memos
We told you earlier that the Department of Health and Human Service’s PandemicFlu.gov Web site posted a very simple question on its Web site — HHS is looking to rework the site and asked for help. And so HHS asked the simple question: “Tell Us What You Think: We are reviewing this site. What would you most like to change or fix?”
A very simple — but very powerful way of tapping into the wisdom of us.
HHS has received more than 100 responses. But HHS has even taken it to the next step — posting the suggestions online so people can see the questions that have been asked. I’ve always thought that is a very powerful step because it spurs other people — it gets other people thinking about areas that they may not have noticed or may not have paid attention to. Again, this is a demonstration of Web 2.0 — these tools that tap into the theory that all of us are smarter then each of us individually. And they allow agencies to collaborate — they tap into the concept that information is power, but, more importantly, information is more powerful when it is shared.
You can see see the list of suggestions here… and they are wide ranging.
Here is one example:
Don’t sugar coat the stats. Tell it like it is, currently 68% mortality rate. The American people are tired of being lied to and just want the truth. Get the word out with radio/TV spots. Get ALL the medical community on board. Streamline the layout of this page and update the information to tell people to stock up with several weeks of food/water at a minimum in case our wonderful “Just in time” systems crash (which you know they will). We have several states that really have no clue whats going on. If this event happens and is half as bad as what I expect, lots of our local and state .gov people wont have a clue and guess who pays for this situation, we the local people. Secretary Leavitt is correct in that this would be like 10000 Katrina’s happening at the same time all over the US, Don’t expect help your on your own.
The only think that I might add is some feature where people could suggest how valuable other people think they are, but… it takes a certain element humility to put people’s critiques out there for everybody to see, but it seems that it is a simple and powerful step to sharing information.
There are very contradictory buzz around the General Services Administration about the administrator job. Of course, it was just a few weeks ago that the Obama administration named Paul Prouty as GSA’s acting administrator.
Most people believed that Prouty, who most recently was the assistant regional administration for GSA’s Public Building Service’s Rocky Mountain Region, could be around for a year or more. But we’re now hearing that there could be a GSA administrator nominee in the coming weeks — maybe even days.
The name that continues to come up is Martha Johnson, who, as we told you earlier, was the GSA chief of staff under the wildly popular — and wildly successful — GSA Administrator David Baram, who served during the Clinton administration. Johnson was on the Obama transition “parachute” team for GSA. I’ve reposted some Johnson bio details from her LinkedIn profile… after the break.
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DorobekInsider’s Public CIO magazine column: Obama Administration May Speed Up Federal Use of Web 2.0
Here is how they bill it:
Opinion: Obama Administration May Speed Up Federal Use of Web 2.0
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Navy are leaders in Government 2.0
There are real opportunities to make great strides for government and governing. It requires that agencies try something new, but there are opportunities to rebuild the public’s trust in government. This could lead to more transparency — and better management. In the end, the potential opportunities far outweigh the risks.
Tracking recovery.gov — many questions from agencies … and Virginia’s stimulus Web portal garners 1,861 suggestions
UPDATE 11a on 02.19.2009: OMB has posted its guidance, Initial Implementing Guidance for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. I have posted the OMB guidance after the break. OMB also has the PDF posted here.
Many people have been watching recovery.gov Web site — the Web site where one can track how the money under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — the stimulus bill — is spent. But there are a ton o’ questions from agencies about how this will actually work. Remember — this has never been done before.
The President seemed to acknowledge that and recognize that this isn’t necessarily easy. From the White House Web site:
“What I am signing is a balanced plan with a mix of tax cuts and investments. It is a plan that’s been put together without earmarks or the usual pork barrel spending. And it is a plan that will be implemented with an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability,” President Obama said before signing the bill into law. “And we expect you, the American people, to hold us accountable for the results. That is why we have created Recovery.gov – so every American can go online and see how their money is being spent.”
That site, Recovery.gov, is now live. You can go there to see projections — based on language in the legislation — of where your money will go, broken down state-by-state. And over the coming weeks and months, as the funds start to go out, you’ll be able to see far more detailed information.
It’s just the beginning of a long process, of course — on Air Force One today, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called it “a strong start towards economic viability.”
The Office of Management and Budget has sent out draft implementation guidance — initial guidance about how agencies actually have data in a consistent form so it can appear on the recovery.gov Web site. And there is a telephone conference call today with the Office of Management and Budget further detailing those questions. And, as I say, there are a whole lot of questions.
Just to reiterate — this has never been done before. And from what I understand most agencies simply don’t have information in a form where it can just be posted.
I have reached out to OMB and told them that Federal News Radio 1500 AM would love to help them get this information out to agencies. I’m also reaching out to some people I know that deal with transparency and making data public. If you know somebody who can help agencies, let me know. We’d love to talk to them. And did I mention there are a ton o’ questions out there about how to actually do this. Also, if you post some of those questions, I’ll make sure we get answers.
Meanwhile, the recovery.gov site is getting a whole lot of attention. In fact, I’d love to get traffic numbers. I’d bet that it is getting much more traffic then USASpending.gov gets — USASpending.gov is the Web site that was required by the law passed by then Sen. Obama and Sen. Coburn that is supposed to be the “Google of government spending.” Unfortunately
USASpending.gov has never really garnered all that much attention. And the site has been frustrating to some because it doesn’t really make the core data available so people can crunch it for themselves. That being said, it is an interesting an innovative start — and it was launched very quickly. And — it wasn’t easy.
That being said, according to Compete.com , which taps into page views, recovery.gov has had 236,268 compared to USASpending.gov which has 20,291. No, this isn’t a totally fair comparison because recovery.gov is brand new — and it is getting a lot of attention. We’ll check back.
Two other items…
Others are working on this too. Arstechnica.com blogger Julian Sanchez notes that there are a number of unofficial online efforts working to monitor the stimulus legislation. One is StimulusWatch.org — and earlier this month on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we spoke with the person who created the site, Jerry Brito. You can hear that conversation here.
And remember that I told you about Virginia’s stimulus.virginia.gov portal where people can go look at projects — and suggest their own or rate others. In about a week, they have already had 1,861 suggestions.
Finally, Nancy Scola over at the Personal Democracy Forum’s techPresident.org has a list of what on Recovery.gov — and what’s not.
Some of her recommendations for what should be on the site:
A Responsible Party. The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board which will oversee Recovery.gov, hasn’t been formed yet. So, email away! But know that there isn’t really yet anyone on the receiving end.
Data. Data. Data. Of course, with the act three hours old, there just isn’t much yet. That said, whether Recovery.gov will give open-government advocates the raw data that they’re hungering for is still an open question. The site is, thus far, populated by the shiny consumer-end charts. A that’s good start, but no replacement, advocates say, for raw XML data then can then use for mash-ups and number crunching.
Again, if you know anybody who can help agencies — and the White House — flesh out these issues, let me know. We’d love to chat with them on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris .
Read OMB’s Initial Implementing Guidance for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009… after the break.
UPDATE: We spoke to Lena Trudeau of the National Academy on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris about the report. You can hear that here.
Back in October, we looked at a interesting attempt to use a power-of-us initiative around a specific topic — in this case, they called it the National Dialogue on Health Information Technology and Privacy. It was was conducted by the Office of Management and Budget partnered with the National Academy of Public Administration, which has been way in front helping provide government with ways to implement collaboration with their Collaboration Project. In fact, I was fascinated enough by it that I nominated NAPA’s Lena Trudeau for Federal Computer Week’s Federal 100 award . She didn’t win, but…
Back then, I said that my hope was that there would be lessons learned. After all, not many organizations have tried this — particularly federal agencies. The EPA conducted it’s own national dialogue … so this is really only the second real case.
On Tuesday, NAPA released its report on the dialogue. You can read the full report for yourself after the break — and it is definitely worth reading.
There are recommendations specifically in health IT and privacy — one of the big issues for the Obama administration and which gets a big boost in the stimulus package signed into law on Tuesday.
But I was particularly fascinated if NAPA would provide lessons learned from the tool itself — and, thankfully, they did.
Here are their lessons:
People Are Willing (Even Eager) To Engage — perhaps the most important lesson to be learned from the National Dialogue pilot is that, when asked and presented with a clear value exchange, citizens and stakeholders are eager to engage in the process of governance. The Dialogue had a very meager advertising budget (<$10,000) and took place the week before a major national election. Despite this, the Dialogue garnered 4,413 visits from 2,835 unique visitors, with 420 of those—nearly 15%—going on to create an account on the Dialogue site. The Dialogue produced not only a substantial number of ideas, but also fostered discussions of those ideas in which participants responded directly to each others’ arguments. This demonstrates persuasively the potential value of bringing together a wide range of participants and allowing them not only to respond to a single point of contact, i.e. directly to leaders in government, but to interact with and respond to each other.
Civic Engagement Is a Starting Point — using this type of citizen feedback to effectively guide policy requires a clear-eyed view of what purposes such public engagements do and do not serve. While tools like the National Dialogue are useful for generating innovative ideas and uncovering insights into the concerns and priorities of participants, they are not representative of “the people” as a whole. The Panel believes strongly that this National Dialogue did uncover important insight into the shape of debate on health IT and privacy. The Panel also believes that building on this initiative would continue to provide policymakers with valuable insights and interested citizens with a needed forum to express and debate their views. However, no civic engagement used in isolation, online or otherwise, can deduce consensus where none existed previously. Ultimately, initiatives like the National Dialogue must mark the beginning, rather than the end, of public debate on any given issue.
Timing Is Important — the timing of the National Dialogue presented a unique challenge that, in the view of the Panel, kept this effort from reaching its full potential. In order to better demonstrate the ability of leaders to quickly solicit and analyze large amounts of feedback, and to prove the viability of such methods in advance of a presidential transition, the National Academy and its partners built and ran the National Dialogue pilot, from start to finish, in a time span of about six weeks, and conducted the Dialogue itself over the course of one week. While this quick turnaround limited the extent of the participation, it also demonstrated that even efforts as brief as the pilot can create real value that could not be achieved without the use of the online dialogue method.
The use of this type of method should, although valuable, be distinguished from more scientific surveys of public opinion. It is too soon, in the judgment of the Panel, to claim that the views of the public or any significant subset of it can be ascertained reliably using this method. That possibility would need to be tested in subsequent projects that would include breadth of participation as a primary objective.
It’s this last graph — emphasis added by me — that I’m particularly pondering. I’m not sure these tools are comparable to surveys, but…
I’m reading the rest of the report now… and we’re going to talk to Trudeau Wednesday on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris about some of the lessons learned… and the recommendations.
Again, more on this after I’ve read the full report.
Meanwhile, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the NAPA report. You can read it after the break.
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My definition of Web 2.0 is that these are tools that tap into the theory that all of us are smarter then each of us individually. And they allow agencies to collaborate — they tap into the concept that information is power, but, more importantly, information is more powerful when it is shared. Some of the uses of that are simple — but very powerful. And one comes from the Department of Health and Human Service’s PandemicFlu.gov.
If you visit the site, you will find a very simple box at the top of the page — and they ask a very simple question: “Tell Us What You Think: We are reviewing this site. What would you most like to change or fix?”
The folks at HHS posted this on the Web site late last week, and in just a few days, as of COB Monday, HHS officials have received 70 responses.
Even more powerful — they are going to post the responses that they have received — potentially spurring additional thoughts and responses.
Simple, yet very powerful — and an acknowledgment that we don’t have all the answers.
Kudos to HHS… and particularly to HHS’s Andrew Wilson, a member of the agency’s social media team. (Do most agencies have social media teams and I just don’t know it?) I have been “following” Wilson on Twitter and it is clear that he is on a quest to find new and innovative ways of reaching out, and willing to innovate. We all recognize that success is rarely the result of one person’s work. Real success depends on people working together, so I’d also give credit to HHS leadership. That being said, people like that in government deserve recognition.
And visit PandemicFlu.gov and offer your insights about the site.
WhiteHouse.gov, which has been criticized for not jumping into the deep end of the government 2.0 pool, is taking its first steps to accepting comments — specifically in connection to the The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The White House posted the bill on WhiteHouse.gov. But Personal Democracy Forum’s techPresident.com’s Micah L. Sifry noticed on Friday that the comment space originally gave people only 500 characters to make their comment. “That’s absurd,” Sifry said on Twitter. A few days later, the White House increased the comment count restrictions to 5,000 characters — “Much better,” Sifry said.
Though it’s still a far cry from a meaningful use of the web to engage the public in monitoring and improving the legislative process. But I guess you have to take baby steps before you can walk.
Now you can enter the full text of a Maureen Dowd column and still have 500 characters left over for a few Ana Marie Cox tweets…
It’s a big step — and a signal that the White House new media team is working to come up with new ways of reaching out.
Congratulations to NASA for getting a Shorty award — these are awards for the best producers of short content on Twitter during the past year.
This was the announcement from @NASA:
From NASA’s release :
NASA’s activities in social networking media will be recognized Wednesday in New York, when the agency receives an award for its presence on the popular Web site Twitter.
Known as the Shorty Award, it was created to honor the best producers of short content on Twitter during 2008. Updates on NASA’s Mars Phoenix Lander mission received the most votes in the science category from users of the site.
The Mars Phoenix Twitter delivered more than 600 updates during the 152 days the lander was operating in the north polar region of Mars. By the end of the lander’s mission in early November, more than 38,000 people were following its reports, called “tweets.” The account is still used to provide updates on the mission’s science results and has more than 41,000 followers.
“We created the account, known as Mars Phoenix, last May with the goal of providing the public with near real-time updates on the mission,” said Veronica McGregor, manager of the news office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and originator of the updates. “The response was incredible. Very quickly it became a way not only to deliver news of the mission, but to interact with the public and respond to their questions about space exploration.”
You can follow McGregor on Twitter at @VeronicaMcG.
Hat tip to Federal Computer Week. We’re working to get McGregor on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris. As we say in radio… stay tuned.