With a single subpoena to one of the most admired public servants in America, Congressman Darrell Issa has managed to rankle the ire of open government leaders and alienate a key constituency in a movement he co-founded his own organization around.
The subpoena is in response to the White House’s refusal to allow U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park to testify before the House Oversight Committee related to technical issues that continue to plague a reliable launch of healthcare.gov.
A group of Park supporters have rallied behind him and created a website, “Let Todd Work,” where citizens can pledge their support.
“Mr. Park is a fantastic civil servant, who cares about making government more effective and accountable, just like Mr. Issa,” states the petition. “We hope that they can work together on solving the policies that enabled healthcare.gov to fail in the first place, by working with the Senate for passage of Issa’s own bill, the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act.”
FITARA is Issa’s bill to reform federal technology management and procurement, an issue many see as the fundamental breakdown to the healthcare.gov implementation and a general symptom of the government’s inability to deliver IT projects on time and on budget.
“If the people in government technology were made up of characters in the marvel universe, Todd Park would most assuredly be Captain America — someone who selflessly serves, has a strong moral compass, and has an uncanny ability to always be optimistic and see the best in everyone,” writes Former White House Presidential Innovation Fellow Clay Johnson on Google+. Johnson is one of the supporters leading the petition effort.
Issa’s own open government organization, OpenGov Foundation, that he co-founded and serves as chairman, is focused on solving many of the same issues Park has become a key champion for, including open, accessible public data.
“Information and technology are disruptive,” the organization states on its website. “But data-driven disruption is what will ultimately break down the barriers of closed, inaccessible, unaccountable government … We’ll bring the sledgehammers.”
Given the open government community’s focus on collaboration over political conflict, it will be interesting to see how the fallout will impact long-term sentiments towards his own organization’s efforts.
It appears many think Issa should focus his energy, and hammer, on an issue beyond Park’s superpowers.