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DorobekInsider: State of the Union history

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President Obama gives his first State of the Union address tonight just days after his first year in office and days befire the administration issues its first full budget. And this White House is doing something like State of the Union 2.0 taking question on YouTube among other things.

There are some interesting highlights on the history of this speech, which is generally a big deal here in Washington.

The Congressional Research Service has actually published a FAQ on the State of the Union [PDF or Flash version] — which I have also posted below.

According to the Clerk of the House:

The formal basis for the State of the Union address is from the U.S. Constitution:

  • The President “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information on the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” Article II, Section 3, Clause 1.

The constitutionally mandated presidential address has gone through a few name changes:

  • It was formally known as the Annual Message from 1790 to 1934.
  • It began to be informally called the State of the Union address from 1942 to 1946.
  • Since 1947 it has generally been known as the State of the Union address.

According to the State:

On January 27, 2010, President Barack Obama will fulfill his constitutional duty to “give to the Congress Information on the State of the Union” (Article II, Section3). Presidents George Washington and John Adams delivered their messages in person, but in 1801 Thomas Jefferson chose to send his in writing. That precedent held until Woodrow Wilson decided to deliver his message in person in 1913, a tradition that continues today. Franklin Roosevelt referred to it as the “State of the Union Address,” a title that became official during the Harry Truman administration. The first radio broadcast of the message occurred in 1923, and the 1947 address was the first televised. View a list of speakers before joint sessions of Congress. Read a report from the Congressional Research Service. See a list of opposition responses to the annual address. Each year, one member of the President’s cabinet is absent from the address, to maintain the line of succession in case of an emergency.

The BBC has a great primer on the State of the Union Address.

And you can read State of the Union addresses through history from the Government Printing Office.

We’ll see what the President has to say tonight.

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Written by cdorobek

January 27, 2010 at 3:27 PM

DorobekInsider: On DC’s NewsChannel 8 tonight talking transparency – the liner notes

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I’ll be on DC’s NewsChannel 8 in the 7:30p ET half-hour — their Federal News Tonight program — and I’ll be talking about (what else) transparency. They stream the show live… and I’ll post the video when they post it.

For those looking for more information, here are the liner notes:

* The DorobekInsider transparency, openness and data.gov reader: Just last week, I pulled together The DorobekInsider transparency, openness and data.gov reader, which has many of the links related to the Obama administration’s openness and transparency initiative.

* Open Government Dialogue: This is the site established where, through Thursday, the administration is seeking your ideas on transparency and openness. Today on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we spoke to John John Kamensky is Senior Fellow and Associate Partner at the IBM Center for The Business of Government, spoke to us about the process so far. Hear that conversation here.

Thanks for Federal News Radio Internet Editor Dorothy Ramienski, pulled together some notes from that conversation.

* 12,000 visits so far on the Open Government Dialogue site as of this afternoon;
* 42,000 page views
* 600 total unique ideas/posts so far
* 6,000 votes for the different ideas
* participation from every state, as well as visits from over 90 different countries

Kamensky also notes that the most voted on item is one recommended from Republican Minority Leader John Boehner recommendation that there be a 72-hour mandatory waiting period to allow public comment on all spending bills.

* DorobekInsider column in Signal magazine on transparency: Find a link to the Signal magazine column on transparency here… or read the column here.

* Whitehouse.gov/open: This is the Obama administration’s main transparency and openness site

* Data.gov: This is federal CIO Vivek Kundra’s baby, and it is similar to one he created when he was the DC CTO. The site will be a place where public, machine readable data is posted.

* Apps for Democracy 2: Similar to DC’s Apps for America that Kundra led while the DC CTO, the Sunlight Foundation is sponsoring Apps for America 2, which is offering real prize money — up to $25,000 — for the best application developed using Data.gov data. Find all the information about the Apps for Democracy 2 contest here.

DorobekInsider.com: Another Obama weekend address, and news on government reform

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Last weekend, President Obama used his weekend address to announce the chief performance officer and the Obama chief technology officer. This week, he was talking government reform. (BTW, reporters just love it when they find out news is breaking over the weekend.) Read the AP story here.

The president offered up a few ideas that impact feds and how they will do their job.

One is cutting programs. The president says that the administration is looking to cut spending and that they will “identify more than 100 programs that will be cut or eliminated.”

Two… we’ll create new incentives to reduce wasteful spending and to invest in what works.

Three… the administration is going to create a process where front-line workers can offer up ideas. (I would recommend the administration look at TSA’s Idea Factory, a Digg-like system that allows front line TSA workers to offer up ideas — and allows others to vote on the best ideas.)

After all, Americans across the country know that the best ideas often come from workers – not just management. That’s why we’ll establish a process through which every government worker can submit their ideas for how their agency can save money and perform better. We’ll put the suggestions that work into practice. And later this year, I will meet with those who come up with the best ideas to hear firsthand about how they would make your government more efficient and effective.

Four… the administration is reaching out to industry.

We will reach beyond the halls of government. Many businesses have innovative ways of using technology to save money, and many experts have new ideas to make government work more efficiently. Government can – and must – learn from them. So later this year, we will host a forum on reforming government for the 21st century, so that we’re also guided by voices that come from outside of Washington.

The transcript can be found here … or below:

Good morning. Over the last three months, my Administration has taken aggressive action to confront an historic economic crisis. As we do everything that we can to create jobs and get our economy moving, we’re also building a new foundation for lasting prosperity – a foundation that invests in quality education, lowers health care costs, and develops new sources of energy powered by new jobs and industries.

One of the pillars of that foundation must be fiscal discipline. We came into office facing a budget deficit of $1.3 trillion for this year alone, and the cost of confronting our economic crisis is high. But we cannot settle for a future of rising deficits and debts that our children cannot pay.

All across America, families are tightening their belts and making hard choices. Now, Washington must show that same sense of responsibility. That is why we have identified two trillion dollars in deficit-reductions over the next decade, while taking on the special interest spending that doesn’t advance the peoples’ interests.

But we must also recognize that we cannot meet the challenges of today with old habits and stale thinking. So much of our government was built to deal with different challenges from a different era. Too often, the result is wasteful spending, bloated programs, and inefficient results.

It’s time to fundamentally change the way that we do business in Washington. To help build a new foundation for the 21st century, we need to reform our government so that it is more efficient, more transparent, and more creative. That will demand new thinking and a new sense of responsibility for every dollar that is spent.

Earlier this week, I held my first Cabinet meeting and sent a clear message: cut what doesn’t work. Already, we’ve identified substantial savings. And in the days and weeks ahead, we will continue going through the budget line by line, and we’ll identify more than 100 programs that will be cut or eliminated.

But we can’t stop there. We need to go further, and we need an all-hands-on-deck approach to reforming government. That’s why I’m announcing several steps that my Administration will take in the weeks ahead to restore fiscal discipline while making our government work better.

First, we need to adhere to the basic principle that new tax or entitlement policies should be paid for. This principle – known as PAYGO – helped transform large deficits into surpluses in the 1990s. Now, we must restore that sense of fiscal discipline. That’s why I’m calling on Congress to pass PAYGO legislation like a bill that will be introduced by Congressman Baron Hill, so that government acts the same way any responsible family does in setting its budget.

Second, we’ll create new incentives to reduce wasteful spending and to invest in what works. We don’t want agencies to protect bloated budgets – we want them to promote effective programs. So the idea is simple: agencies that identify savings will get to keep a portion of those savings to invest in programs that work. The result will be a smaller budget, and a more effective government.

Third, we’ll look for ideas from the bottom up. After all, Americans across the country know that the best ideas often come from workers – not just management. That’s why we’ll establish a process through which every government worker can submit their ideas for how their agency can save money and perform better. We’ll put the suggestions that work into practice. And later this year, I will meet with those who come up with the best ideas to hear firsthand about how they would make your government more efficient and effective.

And finally, we will reach beyond the halls of government. Many businesses have innovative ways of using technology to save money, and many experts have new ideas to make government work more efficiently. Government can – and must – learn from them. So later this year, we will host a forum on reforming government for the 21st century, so that we’re also guided by voices that come from outside of Washington.

We cannot sustain deficits that mortgage our children’s future, nor tolerate wasteful inefficiency. Government has a responsibility to spend the peoples’ money wisely, and to serve the people effectively. I will work every single day that I am President to live up to that responsibility, and to transform our government so that is held to a higher standard of performance on behalf of the American people.

Thank you.

Written by cdorobek

April 25, 2009 at 11:31 AM

Government 2.0 challenges — and some solutions

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This afternoon, I was at the New America Foundation’s Wiki White House forum held at Google’s DC offices. It was a fascinating session featuring Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, Mindy Finn, director of e-strategy for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, Ellen Miller, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, and Sascha Meinrath, research director for the New America Foundation’s wireless future program. I’ll flesh out my thoughts for a full post this weekend, but… you can read my very rough notes here… and you can also search Twitter for people who used #WWH on their posts.

One document that is getting a lot of attention is the one below, Social Media and the Federal Government: Perceived and Real Barriers and Potential Solutions. Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Jason Miller spoke to GSA’s Bev Godwin about this document. That will air on the Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris on Tuesday… and it will be posted on WFED’s Tracking the Transition page.

But… read it for yourself.

View this document on Scribd

Written by cdorobek

January 9, 2009 at 2:07 PM

DorobekInsider.com poll: What do you think of Team Obama’s team?

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Another day — more names… but we’re starting to get a sense of what the Obama administration is going to look like. The WSJ’s Gerald Seib has a fascinating piece in the paper this morning headlined Obama Team takes two shapes.

Here is how Slate.com’s Today’s Paper summed up the story:

The WSJ‘s Gerald Seib says Obama is “giving the country two administrations for the price of one.” While Obama’s first round of high-profile appointments were heavy on Washington veterans who are seen as largely moderate, the second wave include “the kind of folks who look like the fabled ‘agents of change’ promised in the campaign.” These newer faces are concentrated in areas of energy and the environment, signaling that’s where Obama wants to implement changes, while he stuck with known commodities in the economics and national security fields to signal continuity in a time of war and an economic crisis.

So… what’s your sense of the team of rivals so far?

Written by cdorobek

December 19, 2008 at 7:35 AM

Posted in poll, Presidency, Transition

What would you ask Team Obama — change.gov is now ‘open for questions’

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20081211-questionsMany of us are watching the Obama transition Web site change.gov for indications about how the new administration might tap into the Web 2.0 as a tool for governing. And we’re getting a very interesting peek with the newest feature on the Change.gov Web site — “open for questions.”

The Obama-Biden Transition wants to hear from you. The transition team, using the Google Moderator application, lets people post their questions for the transition team — but, more importantly, it lets you go in and grade those questions — yes, you would like to get this questions answered, no you wouldn’t, or “flag as inappropriate.”

Here is the Change.gov blog post about ‘open for questions’:

With so many Americans involved in the political process for the first time, there’s a great deal of interest in what’s happening inside the Transition right now — and what happens next.

Today, we’re rolling out a new feature that lets you ask the Transition team any questions you have about the issues that are important to you.

You can also browse through questions other folks have and check off the ones you think are the most interesting.

The Change.gov community has jumped into a true two-way dialogue with our Transition team members. So far, we’ve asked you questions about major issues in our discussion forums, and you’ve flooded this site with your comments (see here or here).

Check out our new “Open for Questions” feature, and keep the conversation going.

There are many interesting issues here — some of them the government questions. So the transition team posts the following disclaimer:

Have feedback on this system or want to suggest a better way to do this? Let us know. Before asking a question, please review our comment policy.

Disclaimer: This tool is powered by Google Moderator, a third party service. Here is their privacy policy and terms of service.

Does that mean that they don’t have to follow the Privacy Act — the site requires that you sign in, but… how does that relate to privacy laws? Did they compete this application? And there are already questions about whether uncomfortable questions are disappearing by being flagged an inappropriate. Really?

Getting away from those more bureaucratic questions, I absolutely adore the idea. In the end, it is similar to the popular Digg site… and similar to the ObamaCTO.org Web site, which has grown into something of a portal of various issue areas — including what kind of dog the Obamas should get. (More on ObamaCTO.org here… and hear our conversation with the creator of ObamaCTO.org on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris.) By the way, ObamaCTO.org is powered by an applicated called UserVoice.

And… then there are the actual questions.

According to the site, these are among the leaders:

  • “What will you do to establish transparency and safeguards against waste with the rest of the Wall Street bailout money?”
  • “What will you do as President to restore the Constitutional protections that have been subverted by the Bush Administration and how will you ensure that our system of checks and balances is renewed?”
  • “Will you lift the ban on Stem Cell research in your first 100 days in office?”
  • “What will you do to end the use of mercenary forces (ie Blackwater) by our military?”

Read others… after the break…
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

December 11, 2008 at 8:39 AM

Obama CTO frenzy: More names in the mix

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So there almost seems to be a frenzy around who might be named the Obama CTO.

The Industry Standard has its selections of 10 contenders (and one real long shot) for Obama’s CTO.

Frankly their list seems like mostly long-shots. Their list includes Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Google’s Eric Schmidt, and Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos — my good friend — kidding.

Most of these seem like long shots to me. First off, most of them would have to give us some of the best jobs in the world — and some of the highest paying jobs in the world. And most of them are used to being able to do what they want — they create the bureaucracy. Are they really going to have to work within the confines of government — even an Obamaized government? Finally, are those people going to be willing to fill out the Obama team’s job application form, which is seven pages long and has more than 60 questions? (The NYT has a copy of the application here. PDF)

The Industry Standard’s actual long-shot is Yahoo’s Jerry Yang, who just announced that he is stepping down from his post.

The list has some more likely names — Julius Genachowski makes their list. As the DorobekInsider told you, he part of the Obama transition leadership and is one of Obama’s former colleagues from the Harvard Law Review. Genachowski seems one of the more likely. The other candidates in their list is Sonal Shah.

Shah is one of the few rumored contenders to have actually worked in government. She currently heads global development initiatives at Google, but prior to that worked at Goldman Sachs, the Center for American Progress, and the U.S. Treasury Department. She’s also advising Obama’s transition team on the CTO search.

They also have Donald Gips

Gips is the vice president of corporate strategy and development for Level 3 Communications, and served Al Gore. Although Gips didn’t help the former vice president invent the Internet, he was Gore’s chief domestic policy advisor and has a deep understanding of technology and communication policies. He too is advisingObama’s transition team.

The Silicon Alley Insider also has a list of CTO candidates.

And Forbes.com’s list, which has been the buzz around town, includes some government IT luminaries:

  • Cisco’s Alan Balutis, who served as the Commerce Department’s chief information officer
  • Bob Gourley, the former CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency and now chief technology officer at advisory firm CrucialPoint.
  • Dawn Meyerriecks, a consultant in Washington, D.C., formerly CTO of the Defense Information Systems Agency.
  • Harry Raduege Jr., who was director of DISA and now chairs the Deloitte Center for Network Innovation.

More than the person — we’ll get that when we get it — I’m interested in what role the CTO will play. To that end, this afternoon on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we’re going to talk to CJD-fav Andrew McAfee, an associate professor at the Harvard Business School and the person credited with the term ‘enterprise 2.0.’ He recently post an item on his blog headlined What This Country Needs is a Chief Technology Officer .

Written by cdorobek

November 18, 2008 at 7:36 AM