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New E-Gov Administrator?

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The White House is reportedly close to naming a new Office of Management and Budget E-government and Information Technology Administrator.

Vivek Kundra, the chief technology officer of Washington, D.C., is expected to be nominated to replace Karen Evans, according to Federal News Radio.

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IT advice from the CIO Council

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Last week, I wrote about a nonprofit group’s recommendations for a successful electronic government. This week, the Chief Information Officers Council is weighing it with its recommendations in a newly released report the council has shared with the Obama transition team.

Here are the some of the key recommendations from the CIO Council on how to make e-government successful:

  • Government must tap the power of collaboration both within its own ranks and with citizens. By letting citizens and employees “take what they need” and “share what they know” government can improve effectiveness and efficiency by creating an environment where the most up-to-date and relevant information is available.
  • Leaders must ensure the government is adequately staffed to handle the challenge. Embracing collaborative technologies, such as wikis, blogs and social networking, internally can help agencies do that by attracting the “net generation,” who are accustomed to creating their own content and sharing it instantaneously with such tools.
  • Appropriate information sharing between agencies, trusted partners, industry and the public is important for eliminating redundancies, adopting best practices and engaging the public. Although the challenge of sharing sensitive information securely remains, the benefits of sharing sensitive information among government agencies is clear- shared information creates more informed decision makers and fosters innovation.

The report notes that agencies are already taking steps in all these areas, but says the next administration needs to make sure agencies continue on their current path.

A couple of other reports on e-government were also released today. They can be found here and here.

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IT advice from across the pond

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Barack Obama is expected to name the person he wants as his chief technology officer pretty soon. Obama has said the CTO is supposed to ensure agencies have the right infrastructure, policies and services for the 21st century.

Coincidentally, mySociety, a British non-profit group that advocates for and facilitates open, electronic government, has posted a blog this week about how the government of “any reasonably developed country” should use the Internet.

Here is what mySociety has to say:

The most scary thing about the Internet for your government is not pedophiles, terrorists or viruses, whatever you may have read in the papers. It is the danger of your administration being silently obsoleted by the lightening pace at which the Internet changes expectations.

Here, in part, is what it suggests government does:

Hire yourself some staff who know what the Internet really means for government, and fund a university to start training more who really understand both worlds… There just aren’t enough employed in any government anywhere yet to save you from being hopelessly outstripped by external progress. The citizen discontent resulting from massive shifts in expectation could wash your entire government away without you ever having anyone skilled enough to tell you why everyone was so pissed off. Your chances of truly reinventing what your government is are basically zero without such staff.

Commission the world’s first system capable of large scale deliberation, and hold a couple of nation wide sessions on policy areas that you genuinely haven’t made your minds up on yet.

When people use your electronic systems to do anything, renew a fishing license, register a pregnancy, apply for planning permission, given them the option to collaborate with other people going through or affected by the same process. They will feel less alone, and will help your services to reform from the bottom up.

Seems that Obama has thought of a couple of these things already. His campaign literature talks about opening up government regulation to more citizen collaboration and opening up legislation to public comment. I haven’t seen much discussion about staffing the government yet.

What do you think? How should your agency use the Internet? What skills does your agency need to make e-government work better for citizens?

Hat Tip: Kathryn Corrick

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