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03.07.2012 DorobekINSIDER: Leading the Recovery Board; our information diet; and bosses trading places

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Today on GovLoop INsights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • There is a new chief watchdog at the Recovery, Accountability and Transparency Board. It’s a visible job. She takes over from Earl Devaney. And she has a tough task leading an organization that could sunset is a little over a year. We’ll introduce you to Kathleen Tighe later in the program.
  • You watch what you eat, but do you watch what you read? and watch? and listen to, for that matter? and click on? We’ll talk about OUR role in defining the meadia culture out there… we’re going to talk to Clay Johnson, author of the book The Information Diet.
  • And have you seen the TV show Undercover Boss? We’ll talk to a professor about the advantages of walking in somebody else’s shoes.

After the break… the stories that impact your life for Wednesday March 7th, 2012… your government world in 120-seconds…

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Written by cdorobek

March 7, 2012 at 1:27 PM

DorobekINSIDER: Crowdsourcing Gulf Coast oil spill info

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Government as a platform — in the Gulf Coast oil spill.

NASA photo

We have covered a lot of the cases of people coming together to help in crisis situations — many of them around so-called Crisis Camps, but we’ve also seen Random Hacks of Kindless, and even post-Haiti, there were remarkable efforts of people coming together to use available tools to share vital information.

While NOAA is tracking the spill — and there are even NASA satellites tracking the slick — but the Louisiana Bucket Brigade is banding together to track the slick on their own.

A band of people calling themselves the Louisiana Bucket Brigade that are using those tools to track the massive oil spill — called the Oil Spill Crisis Map.

As the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster drifts toward land, residents of the Gulf Coast can report sightings of fishermen out or work, endangered wildlife, oil on shore, oil sheens, health impacts and other problems using a new tool known as the Oil Spill Crisis Map. The reports, submitted via text message, the web or email will appear on a web based map of the Gulf Coast, alerting officials and the public alike of the extent of the damage.

“The Oil Spill Crisis Map compiles and maps eyewitness accounts of the oil’s effects in real time,” said Anne Rolfes of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. “This is a tool for all of us to understand the extent of the damage.”

Reports can be made and viewed at

How does it work?

Mobile phone users can text reports to (504) 27 27 OIL
Reports can also be sent to
Twitter with the hashtag: #BPspillmap.

Eyewitness reports for the map require a description, and location information such as address, city and state, zip‐code or coordinates. Citizen reporters can remain anonymous or disclose their contact information. Photos and video can be uploaded via the web.

Written by cdorobek

May 5, 2010 at 4:12 PM The Obama CTO reader

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The Obama administration’s announcement late Friday — and officially made on Saturday — of the OMB deputy director of management/chief performance officer as well as the much discussed Obama chief technology officer has been the talk of weekend water-coolers, such as they are. For those who are just catching up, more here… the President announced new chief performance officer and OMB deputy director of management, Jeffrey Zients, and also the much discussed Obama CTO, Aneesh Chopra, who has served as the Virginia Secretary of Technology.

In general, the CTO announcement wasn’t a total shock. Back on Feb. 12, we had Chopra on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris talking about Virginia’s innovative, you get a sense that Chopra has at least thought about the job. In fact, at that time, we promised Chopra we wouldn’t focus on the ObamaCTO job, but… I said that at the end of our conversation. Unfortunately it got chopped off. I’ll see if I can hunt it down today. Regardless, you can hear that conversation here.

Also if you want to get insight into the new Obama CTO, here is a video for you…

Hat tip to Read-Write-Web, where they said, “We’ve embedded a video of the keynote Aneesh Chopra gave at this year’s State of the Net Conference earlier this year to give you an insight into the thoughts of our new CTO. In this 50 minute talk, Chopra discusses health IT, broadband policy and open education among other things.”

I thought it would be good to pull together some readings on what people are sying about Chopra and the Obama CTO post. Some of the Dorobek Insider’s writings can be found here.

Other writings about the CTO:

* OMB Director Peter Orszag’s blog post about the Zients, under the delicious headline Move Over R2, CPO is Here (I’ll get more on Zients later, but… this was interseting):

The President decided to make the Deputy Director for Management the government’s first Chief Performance Officer because the goal is not just good management or solid operations, but generating good results for the American people. Through this performance lens, government operations become a way to drive better results, not an end in and of itself. Specifically, Jeff will lead the President’s efforts on contracting and procurement reform, improve government productivity by helping to root out error and waste, build a performance agenda across government, and enhance the transparency of the government’s finances so that citizens are empowered to hold us all accountable for improved stewardship and performance. He will work closely with the also just-announced Chief Technology Officer,Aneesh Chopra, and the Federal Chief Information Officer, Vivek Kundra.

*’s Micah L. Sifry: Obama Names Aneesh Chopra US’s First CTO

Great analysis from Sifry… as always. (And no — not just because he mentions me!)

First, it looks like very good news for the transparency movement, as well as those of us looking for an open-minded leader willing to experiment with new forms of collaborative governance. For example, back in early 2007, under Chopra’s leadership, Virginia was one of the first states to move, with Google’s help, to make its state websites more searchable and thus more accessible to ordinary citizens. The state has also been in the forefront of efforts to create robust web services tracking the giant government stimulus spending package enacted by Obama, and as fed-watcher Christopher Dorobek points out, Chopra is well aware of and supportive of citizen-led watchdog efforts like Jerry Brito’s (Give points to Dorobek for also noting Chopra’s potential as CTO.)

Under Chopra (and it must be mentioned, his boss Governor Tim Kaine), the state also launched a highly interactive website that collected more than 9000 suggestions from residents on how the stimulus monies might be spent. “Relative to calls and letters, it’s fairly safe to say this is probably a tenfold increase in civic participation by allowing people to click on a button, submit their ideas and engage with their governor,” Chopra told a local paper back in March. Finally, like his soon-to-again-be-colleague Vivek Kundra, Obama’s Chief Information Officer, who also came out of Virginia before serving as DC’s CTO, Chopra is willing to try new ways to innovate government processes, inspired by the open and lateral networking development culture of the internet.

Read the full post here.

* O’Reilly Media’s Tim O’Reilly (the guy who invented the term Web 2.0): Why Aneesh Chopra is a Great Choice for Federal CTO

Some in Silicon Valley have hoped for one of their own, a CTO with a deep technology pedigree and ties to the technology industry. For example, the Techcrunch coverage leads with the title Obama Spurns Silicon Valley. This is a narrow view. I’ve been working for much of the past year to understand what many have been calling Government 2.0, and in that process, Chopra has been one of those who have taught me the most about how we can build a better government with the help of technology.

Chopra has been focused for the past three years on the specific technology challenges of government.

And O’Reilly goes on to list nine reasons why Chopra is good for the job. This post bullet points them :

  • The role of the CTO is to provide visionary leadership, to help a company (or in this case, a government) explore the transformative potential of new technology.
  • Chopra demonstrates a deep understanding of the idea that the government is an enabler, not the ultimate solution provider.
  • Chopra understands that government technologists need to act more like their counterparts in Silicon Valley.
  • Chopra is a practical innovator.
  • Chopra has a real focus on measurement, and on figuring out what really works.
  • Chopra has specific expertise in Health Care IT.
  • Chopra is incredibly charismatic.

But read O’Reilly’s full post here. (O’Reilly will be on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris this afternoon in our Meet the Innovator series talking about government 2.0.)

* WSJ’s Digits blog: Tech Industry Cheers as Obama Taps Aneesh Chopra for CTO

Silicon Valley execs and tech bloggers sounded genuinely excited about Obama’s choice Saturday morning and tech industry lobbying groups TechNet and the Business Software Alliance quickly released statements of support, as did several tech heavyweights.

I actually hear that many Valley techies were consulted — and gave an early thumb up for Chopra.

Much more to come… and we’re trying to get information on the chief performance officer, Jeffrey Zients. Yes, we know there is a new chief performance officer nominee — and a CTO

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The White House issued a release earlier today — under embargo until 6a ET Saturday morning — about two senior White House posts.

A number of organizations decided to reject the embargo, including, somewhat shockingly, an un-bylined story in Federal Computer Week. ( has the best analysis so far.) I won’t do that. No, the stories are not hard to find out there. (Frankly, why the White House would issue an embargoed press release is somewhat inexplicable, but why would a new organization post the story? So you broke an embargo to post a story that everybody will have in a few hours? Um… congratulations! And yes, I got the release too. See — it’s right here!)

My late night causticness aside… we’ll reserve our thoughts for the actual release. All I’ll say is that the CTO isn’t totally unknown (and more here ), but we’ll have to see what we will all be Googling the chief performance officer.

So… we’ll just have to wait a few hours and then we can ponder.

Written by cdorobek

April 18, 2009 at 12:22 AM

VA brings transparency to stimulus requests — and we hear from a Obama CTO candidate?

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Aneesh Chopra

Aneesh Chopra

I mentioned about Virginia’s initiative to bring some transparency to who gets any stimulus money that may come to the state. Earlier this week, VA Gov. Tim Kaine launched — a Web portal that lets people see proposed spending for the stimulus package.

On Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we got to talk to Virginia’s Secretary of Technology Aneesh Chopra about the site, about transparency, and about why it matters. Hear that conversation here.

The site is worth checking out — relatively simple. But also built at no cost. And it provides transparency… it provides real, ongoing accountability. And the state is making data available so people can them mash it up in various ways. Chopra even mentioned, created by Jerry Brito, a senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center. That site to look at stimulus “shovel ready” projects and help vhett them. Brito was on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris earlier this month. Hear that conversation here. Brito and his team at StimulusWatch are looking at mashing up the Virginia stimulus data that makes it more clear.

Meanwhile, we noticeably did not ask Chopra about reports that he is on the Obama CTO short list. (Actually, when we concluded our interview, I joked that we specifically wouldn’t mention it.) But I think if you listen to our conversation, you get a sense that Chopra has at least thought about the job. Interestingly, if selected, it would reunite Chopra and Vivek Kundra, who has been selected but not officially announced as the OMB administrator of e-government and IT. In fact, it is a growing list of people who have been appointed but not announced.

After the break, read the FAQ on the Virginia stimulus Web portal… and Chopra’s bio…

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Written by cdorobek

February 13, 2009 at 6:45 AM

Apps for Democracy… and my recommendation for Obama’s CTO

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I have been remiss about pointing to Washington, D.C.’s simply remarkable Apps For Democracy program — but it also brings me to the person who would be my recommendation for the new chief technology officer in the Obama administration –DC’s CTO Vivek Kundra.

As regular readers know, I’m a huge fan of Virtual Alabama, the marvelous program developed by the Alabama Department of Homeland Security… and one part of this amazing program is the power of data — Virtual Alabama is able to take data that already exists and make it available to first responders. It gives them the right information at the right time in the right form — making data usable.

Why not do that for citizens?

Well, that is exactly what Kundra is doing — and he is doing it by making public data transparent and available. Kundra has had a program of making public data available. You can find the District’s data sets at Having done that, Kundra worked with iStrategy Labs to create the Apps For Democracy contest where the District offered up prize money for the best applications that was developed using that public data.

We spoke with Peter Corbett of iStrategy Labs on Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris on Wednesday about the program. The results are remarkable.

For example, how would you like to develop a tour of historic Washington on a Google Map that taps into photos from Flickr photo feeds, Wikipedia entries, and government data? Click over to and check it out.

Or maybe you are more practical and you want to find out if there is street parking available someplace in downtown DC? Then check out Park It DC at The application lets you check a specific area in DC for parking information.

Or maybe you go out on a Saturday night and… well, you have too much fun. There is an application called StumbleSafely that lets you find the safest way to walk home that incorporates crime data — again, using public data.

It is a fantastic idea — and a great way to make public information widely available.

To that end, Kundra is one of the best and the brightest out there. He has been doing absolutely innovative things at DC’s CTO — as we reported when I was at Federal Computer Week, Kundra has been very innovative — perhaps one of the most innovative in the country — at actually implementing these Web 2.0 programs in effective ways. From FCW’s March story:

The District of Columbia’s 33-year-old chief technology officer, Vivek Kundra, wants to bring government procurement into the world of wikis and YouTube videos.

The test case is fairly straightforward. The city needs a vendor to build a 100,000- square-foot evidence warehouse for the police department, so as always, it issued a request for bids. But then it gets more interesting.

The city also created a wiki to host the solicitation documents. Along with the request for bids, the wiki has an interactive question-and-answer section and a link to complete video coverage of apresolicitation conference for potential bidders. The video link takes bidders to social-networking Web site YouTube.

The city has never handled a major procurement in such a manner. But Mayor Adrian Fenty and the city’s CTO aren’t afraid to try new approaches to the most basic government processes.

“The value that these Web 2.0 technologies demonstrate surpasses the old command- and-control model of application development,” Kundra said. “It’s basically like a movie being played in front of the world.

Continue reading about the collaboration gurus here.

With all the names floated out there for the Obama CTO post, Government Technology is reporting — and I’ve heard it too — Kundra would somebody who could provide strategy — and could help make things happen. And Kundra would be additive to the government — allowing agency CIOs to do their jobs better.

Read more about Kundra on the CTO Vision blog.

Written by cdorobek

November 20, 2008 at 6:39 PM

State CIOs name Pam Walker to head government affairs

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The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) has named Pam Walker as director of government affairs. She will be responsible for directing the associations government affairs activities of the organization and ensuring that the views of state CIOs are heard in Washington, DC.

Here is the full release:

Walker Named NASCIO Director of Government Affairs

(Lexington, KY) – The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) is pleased to announce the appointment of Pam Walker as Director of Government Affairs. In this newly created position, Pam will be responsible for developing and directing the association’s government affairs activities and advocacy to advance NASCIO’s strategic policy agenda. This role will include ensuring the perspectives of state CIO’s views are represented in the shaping of federal legislation and policies, working with state and federal lawmakers on key state IT issues and continued alliance building with strategic partners.

“This important announcement is the outcome of many months of serious deliberation by NASCIO’s leadership and we are very excited to welcome Pam Walker as the Director of Government Affairs”, said Gopal Khanna, Minnesota CIO and NASCIO President. “She brings a great deal of experience to the association and to the new DC office. Pam will work closely with Doug Robinson, NASCIO’s Executive Director, to develop and direct our advocacy agenda.”

Because of her knowledge of state government, Pam is well qualified to serve NASCIO and its members. Her experience includes over twelve years in high-profile government affairs positions including most recently as Senior Director of Government Affairs for the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) and Legislative Researcher with Billtrack, Congressional Quarterly. Pam has a M.A. in International Transactions and a B.A. in International Studies from George Mason University.

“Moving from part time to full time representation in Washington was a key goal established by the officers. Adding Pam as our full time representative in Washington will improve our visibility and effectiveness on issues of importance to state chief information officers. Pam is a great addition to our team and I look forward to her contributions.” said John Gillispie Iowa CIO and NASCIO past President.

Pam will be located in NASCIO’s new Washington DC office at the Hall of States, 444 North Capitol Ave, NW Suite 642, Washington, DC 20001. She can be reached at

Written by cdorobek

October 31, 2008 at 9:24 AM

What are the big issues for state and local CIOs??? (And what isn’t!)

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What are the big issues for CIOs at state and local governments? Well, NASCIO asked ’em and here is their list [PDF]:

1. Consolidation: centralizing, consolidating services, operations, resources, infrastructure
2. Shared Services: business models, sharing resources, services, infrastructure
3. Budget and Cost Control: managing budget reduction, strategies for savings, reducing or
avoiding costs, activity based costing
4. Security: security safeguards, enterprise policies, data protection, insider threat
5. Electronic Records Management/Digital Preservation/E-discovery: strategies, policies, legal
issues, opportunities for shared services, emergency preparedness
6. ERP Strategy: acquisition, implementation, expansion, upgrade
7. Green IT: policies, energy efficiency, power management, green procurement, e-waste
8. Transparency: open government, performance measures and data, accountability
9. Health Information Technology: assessment, partnering, implementation
10. Governance: improving IT governance, data governance

I’m really surprised budget isn’t number one, to be honest. But I’m also surprised by something that is missing: government 2.0 didn’t seem to even make the list? (Transparency, maybe?)

Hat tip: Government Technology’s Public CIO

Written by cdorobek

October 29, 2008 at 7:18 PM

Posted in CIOs, State and local, strategy, Technology

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