03 March 2009

US - Web-Savvy Obama Team Hits Unexpected Bumps

(Washington Post)
The team that ran the most technologically advanced presidential campaign in modern history is finding it difficult to adapt that model to government. WhiteHouse.gov, envisioned as the primary vehicle for President Obama to communicate with the online masses, has been overwhelmed by challenges that staffers did not foresee and technological problems they have yet to solve. Obama, for example, would like to send out mass e-mail updates on presidential initiatives, but the White House does not have the technology in place to do so. The same goes for text messaging, another campaign staple. see also Too Early to Criticize Obama's Tech Policy? (Wired) by Nicholas Thompson. The most legitimate complaint so far is that Obama has yet to appoint a CTO. Not only that, but the position appears to have been demoted. One big question right now is what happens with Obama's plans for an Open Government Directive in the first 120 days? This is supposed to be the master document that lays out all the ways that federal government can use transparency to improve democracy. The CTO is supposed to lead one of the three teams drafting this thing. The answer I'm hearing is yes: people at OMB (namely Vivek Kundra), the General Services Administration, and possibly OSTP (namely Beth Noveck) are picking up the slack. So we will get something.