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The TIGR Team

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The video above – from change.gov – highlights members of the Obama Administration’s TIGR (Technology, Innovation and Government Reform) Team.  The team includes Beth Noveck, Dan Chenok, Blair Levin, Vivek Kundra and Andrew McLaughlin.

The team is attempting to make the Government more effective, efficient and transparent in its operations and how it communicates and converses with the public. Some of their comments and suggestions are outlined below.

Process trumps outcome

Vivek Kundra outlines a major issue:

One of the biggest problems in the Federal Government is that process has trumped outcome. The biggest reason for that is that everyone is focused on compliance and nobody is thinking about innovation and how to drive change within the Government.

The focus on compliance is often a result of the various regulations and barriers under which web managers must operate. The Federal Web Managers Council recently released a white paper on these issues suggesting solutions to obstacles of implementing Social Media in Government and putting citizens first. One of TIGR’s tasks will be to analyze these barriers and solutions, and implement any changes to enable Agencies to better communicate and interact with the public.

Dan Chenok suggests Technology allows for openness in the delivery and performance of services.

Technology can help make the delivery of services much more effective and efficient…in terms of providing transparency to the public about the performance of programs.

Services such as Peer to Patent allow for the public to use technology to make the work of the US Patent Office more efficient. These types of services which enable ideas and issues to be crowdsourced, have the potential to decrease the operational costs of Government agencies, while simultaneously increasing their efficiency.

Openness

The video talks about the citizens briefing book and how this will be used to bring ideas and comments from the people straight to Agency heads and to the President himself. It will be interesting to see if such interaction directly effects legislation, or the opinions of elected officials. Nevertheless, this allows for a more open and transparent exchange of ideas and views on public policy. This forum should hopefully allow some ideas to gain a traction of their own, and potentially flourish outside of a direct Government realm.

Andrew McLaughlin explains how the Government can make itself more open by putting its data – paid for by the taxpayer – on the web for others to manipulate and innovate using mashups. These can help citizens understand their world better and drive economic activity.

Vivek Kundra is an enthusiastic proponent of mashups and providing raw Government data to the public. As CTO for the District of Columbia he established the Apps for Democracy competition, which resulted in 47 Applications being built in 30 days, and an estimated 4,000% return on investment.

The success of this means he could become the Obama Administration’s CTO on Wednesday. Such a choice could usher in an exciting new age of innovation and openness in how Government data is exploited for public benefit.

Vivek Kundra finishes on the note below.

Why is it we [Federal Government] can’t innovate and find better ways of bring services, lowering the cost of Government operations and driving transparency? Those of the things you’re going to see in this Administration.

Given the Federal Government spends $70 billion each year on IT – representing 20% of the tech economy – it’s imperative it uses this more effectively to achieve the goals and objectives of a more open and participatory democracy.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • W. David StephensonNo Gravatar 19/01/2009, 7:13 pm

    Even though my own idea for the “Citizens Briefing Book” quickly sank to the bottom of the voting list (gotta sharpen my pitch!), The TIGR Team is great: I’m co-authoring a book with Vivek, and believe me, if he gets the job you’ll see innovative uses of data within agencies, externally to encourage transparency needed to rebuild public faith in government, and to spark creativity along the lines of the “Apps for Democracy” competition.

  • faheyrNo Gravatar 20/01/2009, 1:48 am

    I’m looking forward to reading the book when it comes out.

    I’m hopeful that Vivek with be announced as CTO tomorrow, and that he’ll embed his approach to data and transparency across the Federal Government and associated agencies. Before this happens though some regulatory barriers will need to be removed and also the cultural inertia within Government towards transparency and openness needs to change. Some of the points outlined at http://www.newamerica.net/events/2008/wiki_white_house will need to be evaluated, but I’m hoping – like Ellen Miller (Sunlight Foundation) – to see some kind of executive order mandating authorities to sharing and open up data as default, rather than as a required under FOI etc.

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