Focusing on six words: Helping government do its job better

Tonight on DC’s NewsChannel 8: Government 2.0 — evolution or revolution

with 2 comments

I am on NewsChannel 8 tonight in the 7:30p ET half-hour on the station’s Federal News Today program.

If you watched over there, here is some additional background… We are/were talking about government 2.0 and whether it is a revolution or an evolution.

As I have mentioned before, there are these two groups of people out there — government people interested in Web 2.0 collaboration tools, and then Web 2.0 people who are interested in applying these tools to government. And you can tell which group is which by how they reacted to the evolution of the change of the Obama transition Web site,, to the Obama administration’s White House Web site,

Back on inauguration day, January 20 , I praised the White House Web site for actually launching a blog. It was a first for the White House Web site. Many feds saw that as an enormous step — it made it difficult for other agencies to say that they can’t have a blog if the White House has one. And remember it was just about one year ago — last January — that NavyCIO Robert Carey was the first government CIO to post to a public blog. (Read Carey’s blog here.) So government has come a long way in a year.

The Web 2.0 proponents, however, ask why is this going so slow? The blog, for example, doesn’t even allow comments. The transition Web site,, was seen as very innovative, but in the end wasn’t a government Web site. When it transformed into, suddenly they have to follow the laws of the land. For example, how do you deal with privacy?

So there are some issues that have to be overcome. One is laws in and of themselves. Some of the laws, which were written to promote public participation, were written years ago — in most cases well before the Internet was widely known let alone widely used. They require that, for example, federal rules and regulations be posted to the federal register and then people can send in their comments. That doesn’t permit a broader dialogue — how many of us really read the federal register, after all. Earlier on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris , we spoke to then EPA Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock about an initiative that EPA was undertaking to try new ways of reaching out to people about a specific rule. You can hear that conversation here.

How will all this ferret out? It remains to be seen, but many of the “goverati” — a phrase coined by Dr. Mark Drapeau, the government 2.0 guru — many of the goverati believe there is a real opportunity to change the government’s relationship with citizens.

There are issues to resolve, but they are probably issues that need resolving.

Written by cdorobek

February 3, 2009 at 6:31 PM

2 Responses

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  1. Good stuff. Let’s hope there’s enough geeks out there to keep the show’s ratings up! Many have commented on this– just read a blog by Steve Ressler so I’ll credit him– the fact is that technology change is coming despite regulations/privacy laws/etc. By resisting this change, you run the risk of losing citizen faith in government (yes it can get worse). You also pass up an opportunity to build upon the faith that the Obama Administration has brought to Washington(a la “Yes We Can”). I agree that the new is a step in the right direction but I also agree with those who question the slow progress… regardless, it promises to be interesting.

    Brent Bushey

    February 4, 2009 at 4:48 PM

  2. […] in a way, the site is almost a litmus test to how well people view change in government — is Government 2.0 an evolution or a revolution. In many ways, a persons view of the Web site will tell you how they view that […]

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