Gov 2.0 Week in Review

Closing the IT gap, looking back at PDF, considering cloud computing and looking ahead to DC Week.

As usual, there’s no shortage of news in the government 2.0 world. There has been one watershed event since our last Gov 2.0 Week in Review, however: the early results of the decision to open up community health data. Here come the healthcare apps. Will the Department of Health and Human Services make community health information as useful as weather data? Will the innovation and associated business value match that unlocked by GPS and NOAA weather data?

it-dashboard.jpgAn even more pressing question is whether information technology can help close the yawning gap in federal and state government budgets. “Budget director Peter Orszag’s speech, Closing the IT Gap, explains what we’re about with Gov 2.0 Events,” tweeted Tim O’Reilly earlier this week. Peter R. Orszag, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, spoke at length at the Center for American Progress on a “significant IT gap” that has developed between the public and private sector. Orzag cited this IT gap as a big part of the productivity divide between the two.

“Closing this IT gap is key to boost efficiency and make government more open and responsive to the wants and needs of the public,” wrote Orzag at WhiteHouse.gov, where he linked to budget guidance for agencies and a memo that instructs them to identify “their bottom 5 percent performing programs.”

One of the ways that the federal government plans to save some taxpayer dollars will be through data center consolidation. Another will be through bread and butter IT, like the green data center in the House of Representatives that I reported on last year. A third will likely be cloud computing, given the millions that Los Angeles saved in IT costs or estimated $750,000 saved though moving Recovery.gov to Amazon’s cloud, though serious questions will persist about what government sites or services can be moved to public clouds. A new European Union project on economic effects of open government data may shed light upon whether that approach offers cost savings as well.

More on the past week, including cloud computing, cybersecurity, the 2010 Personal Democracy Forum and Twitter in government, after the jump.


Cloud computing costs, claims and future

If you missed it, Federal CIO Vivek Kundra delivered a keynote at the Cloud Computing Forum and Workshop last month, embedded below. In the speech, Kundra called for the use of cloud computing to narrow a gap between consumers and government while maintaining security, data portability and interoperability.

A new Pew Internet report on the future of cloud computing offered many more perspectives on the topic. A solid majority of respondents agreed with the contention that by 2020, “most people will access software applications online and share and access information through the use of remote server networks, rather than depending primarily on tools and information housed on their individual, personal computers.”

O’Reilly Radar’s own Andy Oram contributed to Pew Internet report on cloud computing. He’s quoted in the findings, recommending that “cloud application providers recognize the value of grassroots innovation – following Eric von Hippel’s findings – and solicit changes in their services from their visitors. Make their code open source – but even more than that, set up test environments where visitors can hack on the code without having to download much software. Then anyone with a comfortable keyboard can become part of the development team. We’ll know that software services are on a firm foundation for future success when each one offers a ‘Develop and share your plug-in here.”‘

Reflecting the internationalization of the trend, where NASA and Japan announced a cloud computing collaboration that will explore interoperability opportunities between NASA’s Nebula Cloud Computing Platform and Japan’s NII Cloud Computing Platform. “By demonstrating how cloud interoperability can facilitate international collaboration and seamless global access to public data, NASA hopes to accelerate the development of cloud standards and the adoption of cloud infrastructure services by the scientific community,” said Chris C. Kemp, NASA’s Chief Technology Officer for Information Technology.

Kemp spoke with me about his role at NASA and Nebula at the Gov 2.0 Expo last month:

As Carl Brooks reported at SearchCloudComputing.com, the first comprehensive, vendor-neutral cloud computing benchmarks are in the wild at CloudHarmony.com.

Looking back at Personal Democracy Forum 2010

Can the Internet fix politics? The answer to that question may not be clear for years. After the Personal Democracy Forum’s annual conference, it’s clear that the Internet has significantly disrupted the ways that candidates campaign, officials govern and agencies form policy. Highlights of Personal Democracy Forum included some fascinating applications, including TransparencyData.com, SeeClickFix and Meetup Everywhere.

As Nick Judd reported that mainstream media is a part of the solution for fixing government. Change agents inside of government and engaged citizens are also crucial. All three parties could benefit from publishing public data online, as the FTC highlighted in its discussion draft on the future of journalism.

Federal CTO Aneesh Chopra spoke at length about rethinking government, which he later blogged about at the Huffington Post in empowering Americans through open government. Chopra highlighted the Community Health Data Forum, “Apps for Healthy Kids” and IT dashboards for spending, among other initiatives.

As his wont, Clay Shirky delivered a thoughtful talk on the Internet, citizenship and lessons for government agencies that are looking for feedback online. Hint: use taxonomies to aggregate ideas instead of a single list.

Can technology forge a new relationship between government and the public? Arianna Huffington considers the possibility after PDF 2010, where she participated in the closing panel. That discussion, which also included Tim O’Reilly, Saul Anuzis, Nick Bilton, Andrew Rasiej. and Newark mayor Cory Booker, is embedded below:

And in a huge win for Jen Pahlka’s big idea, the Omidyar Network announced a $250,000 grant to Code For America, which is now recruiting fellows. “Ask not what your country can code for you – Ask what you can code for your country.”

Twitter looks for a government liaison

Why is Twitter hiring a government liason? Twitter VP Sean Garrett offered up some insight on a new opening for a government liaison, which he said will serve as “a point person that can help verify government IDs, someone that can be down the street to meet with officials in their office, or serve as an overall point person for government outside the Beltway.” The Department of Human Services’ new media guru, Andrew P. Wilson, offered up a thoughtful Top 10 Requests for the New Government Liaison at Twitter.

Internet Freedom and U.S. Foreign Policy

As clashes and protests are reported in Iran on the one year anniversary of the historic protests there, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. stepped up tech support for Iranian dissidents. Should the U.S. support Internet freedom through technology? As I reported in my interview with Secretary of State Clinton’s senior innovation advisor, Alec J. Ross, technology for Internet freedom and innovation is supported by the State Department.

Using the Internet to communicate about the oil spill

USCG commander Thad Allen and White House press secretary Robert Gibbs held a live briefing on the Obama administration’s response to the Deepwater oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that was streamed through WhiteHouse.gov/live. Affected parties are urged to submit claims to BP using DisasterAssistance.gov. Carol Browner, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, also took questions on the oil spill in a live Web chat using Facebook and WhiteHouse.gov. The archived video is embedded below:

Digital Capitol Week

dcweek-logo.jpg

Here in the District of Columbia, Digital Capitol Week is now underway. While many of the workshops, clinics, festivals and parties are well worth the time of the thousands of registered attendees, look for the Gov 2.0 and Org 2.0 Day to be particularly notable for this space, along with the DC 140 Conference, where I’ll be speaking with NPR’s Andy Carvin about “Emergency Response 2.0.” For more, iStrategy Labs has helpfully published “the one post you’ll need to read” about Digital Capitol Week.

Government 2.0 Bits and Bytes

Elsewhere on the Web, David Eaves offered some thoughtful advice to governments on how to engage with social media and suggested that cities should fork the Kuali Foundation to save millions of dollars.

I posted video of how intelligence agencies are connecting the dots with Intellipedia.

The clever developers at the Guardian created coins.guardian.co.uk for easy browsing of government spending.

The new Texas.gov features an open data section and the first state use of Get Satisfaction. If you missed it last month, there’s also a newly-redesigned CA.gov, including a refreshed data repository and an Apps for California contest.

For more on such endeavors, make sure to read Mark Headd’s “A ‘Glass Half Full’ View of Government App Contests and Government “Apps” Move from Cool to Useful in Governing.

Germany’s President resigned last week, due in part to the power of social media, which played a role in Köhler’s departure and replacement.

Military intelligence is tapping social networking skills, enabling a distributed force to conduct swarm warfare via chatrooms. As a guest post on Boing Boing revealed, the military has improved its language education through innovative use of brochures and virtual education.

The State Department launched a mobile website at m.state.gov.

bloomberg-ipad.jpg

Mike Bloomberg has earned some plaudit as an “iPad Mayor.” As Javier Hernandez reported for the New York Times, while Bloomberg is still mastering the device, his deputy mayor for operations, Stephen Goldsmith, is apparently interested in using his iPad to monitor city data and take notes at meetings. “This is the future of public service — digital data pushed to workers who use better information to make smart decisions,” he wrote to Hernandez.

Finally, Mike Kujawski posted a series of great links and takeaways from the Gov 2.0 Expo, proving that’s it’s never too late to post your impressions.

What else is happening in Gov 2.0?

Inevitably, we’re going to miss some links, so make sure to read Nancy Scola at techPresident and follow my Gov 2.0 list on Twitter, embedded below. And as always, if you have tips or suggestions, please email them to alex@oreilly.com or leave links in the comments.

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  • David

    I’m all for “closing the IT gap” unless it costs more than the umpteen BILLIONS they’re already spending.