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I just watched the webcast of Open the Door hosted by Openthegovernment.org. The panelists were:

  • Dan Chenok, a member of President Obama’s “Technology, Innovation and Government Reform” transition team, former branch chief for information policy and technology in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and currently senior vice president and general manager of Pragmatics;
  • Vivek Kundra, newly-appointed federal Chief Information Officer (CIO);
  • Katherine McFate, a Program Officer for Government Performance and Accountability in the Ford Foundation’s Governance Unit; and
  • Beth Noveck, a professor of law and director of the Institute for Information Law and Policy at New York Law School and author of Wiki Government (Brookings 2009).

This was the Sunshine Week 2009 National Dialogue sponsore by the American Association of Law Libraries, American Library Association, Association of Research Libraries, Center for American Progress, League of Women Voters,National Freedom of Information Coalition, OpenTheGovernment.org, Public Citizen, Special Libraries Association, Sunshine Week, and the Sunlight Foundation.

As far as I know, there were no hashtags and I didn’t know if anyone else was twittering, but I posted my share and now I’ve been asked to re-post them for my non-twittering friends, so here they are along with additional notes I took. No offense to host Patrice McDermott, director of OpenTheGovernment.org who did a fabulous job moderating, but I posted a tiny tweetplaint (OMG, now I’m making up tweet words) about her chewing gum.

My Chicken Scratch:
More important than ever to get data into hands because of huge expenses going out the door for recovery and stimulus.
Have to look at this as an ecosystem. When data is democratized, we can hold officials  and ourselves accountable.

Vivek (Obama CIO) pointed to two examples of how transparency and open source have been effective tools for the federal government:

1) The NIH Human Genome project. They opened up the data to anyone, led to massive explosion in the number of people working on the Genome project. For a quick history and to see some of the amazing results of this open source research, check out this two-page fact sheet from the NIH: www.nih.gov/about/researchresultsforthepublic/HumanGenomeProject.pdf
2) DOD and satellites when they released coordinates, led to geospatial data.

But we have to remember that it is not just technology for technology’s sake. We have to be focused on what the technology will enable us to do.

Connect people to services rather than to government agencies. Each agency has a separate web site. The services are organized according to the bureaucracy not according to the services that people need and not in a way that can be easily accessed.

Technology is just one element of transparency. It’s not the solution. It has to be embedded in the C.I.O.’s DNA. They have to come to favor solutions that make it easier for citizens to access and understand how their government works.

Driven by three values outlined in Obama’s memorandum

  • Transparency
  • Participation
  • Collaboration

When people understand the basis for a decision and are able to participate in the decision-making process they are more ready to live with the decision even if they don’t agree.
Accountable Recovery Resources:

What can you do to monitor the Recovery money? Do it at your state level.
Look at what states and localities are doing. Do they have web sites? What is on them? Is it helpful? If they aren’t good, tell them, write op-eds. Check out resources at http://accountablerecovery.net/ and tell accountable Recovery if you find good things that are working!

This is a special moment to reshape the way democracy works. We have a president committed to hearing what people have to say.
This is our moment to change the structures so that everyone can be engaged. This is about reinvigorating democracy.

Models from other countries: Singapore has a very open electronic gov’t platform. UK has a government gateway that they run transactions through. There is a huge e-government movement internationally.

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