Best of GovFreshTV in 2009

GovFreshTV interviewed many of the leading figures in the open government, Gov 2.0 movement in 2009. It’s an incredible list of thinkers shaping the future of government.

I’m honored to have met and talked with each of them about the work they’re doing.

Here’s a review.

San Francisco’s DataSF launch

Here’s video from the August 2009 news conference announcing the launch of DataSF.org, San Francisco’s open data site, which provides “structured, raw and machine-readable government data to the public in an easily downloadable format.”

The press conference is attended by SF officials and technology entrepreneurs, including SF Mayor Gavin Newsom, SF CIO Chris Vein, SF Dept of Public Works head Ed Riskin, SF Director of Innovation Jay Nath, Tim O’Reilly and WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg. There’s a general Q&A that includes examples of how citizens and entrepreneurs are leveraging the newly-opened data.

No one cares about your crappy (Gov 2.0) app

As I read Gov 2.0 retrospectives and predictions, I can’t help but think of iStrategyLabs CEO Peter Corbett’s ‘No One Cares About Your Crappy Web App’ Ignite talk from July, and what it means for 2010.

In 2010, the Gov 2.0 community needs to think harder about how this movement will bridge economic disparity. Open data, open source, social media, transparency and collaboration are great, but look around the room at the people it serves and ask yourself, ‘how is this bridging the digital divide?’

Gigglegate: What was so funny?

John Stewart’s Daily Show coverage of the White House Open Government Directive hones in on what everyone’s asking:

‘What was so funny?’

Quotable:

Huge event yesterday. ‘Open for Questions,’ a new experiment in open government debuted on the whitehouse.gov Website, hosted by Kevin Smith, Mike D, and Indian George Clooney. It was, as you can imagine, HIGH-larious.

In the spirit of open government, we’d like an official response from the White House.

Guesses on Gigglegate?

OpenNASA takes one giant leap for transparency

OpenNASA, an employee-established public blog, is a “collaborative experiment in open, transparent and direct communication about your space program.” Team openNASA shares lessons learned, and what others can learn from them.

New GovFresh White House Open Government site

You can now follow the latest news related to the White House Open Government Initiate (OGI) on GovFresh at whitehouse.govfresh.com.

The new site includes:

  • Latest OGI GovFresh posts.
  • Links to OGI Twitter and official RSS feed.
  • OGI ‘Chatter’ from Twitter, the White House blog and elsewhere on the Web.

Gov 2.0 Hero: Anil Dash

Anil Dash, tech entrepreneur and former Vice President and Chief Evangelist at Six Apart (makers of TypePad and Movable Type), recently opened Expert Labs, a “new independent initiative to help policy makers in our government take advantage of the expertise of their fellow citizens.” (See Entrepreneur, blogger Anil Dash announces venture to connect tech, government experts)

Dash shares thoughts on his new role and civic venture.

White House announces ‘Open Government Directive’

The White House today announced its Open Government Directive, instructing agencies to open their operations to the public and providing a framework for doing so. The directive was accompanied by a Open Government Progress Report to the American People.

From the White House:

The three principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration are at the heart of this directive. Transparency promotes accountability. Participation allows members of the public to contribute ideas and expertise to government initiatives. Collaboration improves the effectiveness of government by encouraging partnerships and cooperation within the federal government, across levels of government, and between the government and private institutions.

Full text of White House ‘Open Government Progress Report to the American People’

From the White House’s new ‘Open Government Progress Report to the American People:’

For too long, the American people have experienced a culture of secrecy in Washington, where information is locked up, taxpayer dollars disappear without a trace, and lobbyists wield undue influence For Americans, business as usual in Washington has reinforced the belief that government benefits the special interests and the well connected at the expense of the American people.

This progress report offers the American people a snapshot of the progress to date, highlights of the Administration’s new open government policy framework—the Open Government Directive —together with a road map for what’s to come.

Immigration detention by the numbers

The American prison system is thriving in our shrinking economy. By 2010 immigration detention is expected to cost taxpayers over $1.7 billion. Some people believe we helped create this situation, relying on immigrant labor to fill low-wage, low-skill jobs. Now it appears that we want to criminalize the people who helped fuel the U.S. economy.

It may come as a surprise that the U.S. lacks effective screening tools to identify serious criminals when making an alien arrest. After an alien is arrested, both criminals and non-criminals are all held in the same county, state and federal facilities. As conditions become more crowded, inmates are moved without regard to where their lawyers and warrants are located. This leads to inefficiencies in managing cases and identifying the criminals. The time aliens languish in the already overburdened system increases.

Army launches My.Army.Mil

The U.S. Army is set to launch My.Army.Mil. The site is Army’s “official user-customized homepage featuring Army news, information and media from around the globe.”

From the press release:

After visitors sign-in and authenticate with Google Friend Connect (AIM, Google, Yahoo and OpenID) or AKO (Army Knowledge Online), they will be prompted to add and arrange a series of widgets to suit their specific information needs. Powering these widgets are open source technologies such as JQuery, PHP, MySQL and API integration.

Featured widgets include:

  • An All Services widget with feeds from the Army, Air Force, Marines and Navy
  • Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube widgets that sync with many Army organizations
  • My Army News widget with customized feeds from Commands, Corps, Divisions, Installations, and traditional news sections
  • A Features widget highlighting stories of Valor, Army events, history and heritage
  • AKO (Army Knowledge Online) widget to log-in to AKO
  • Video widget with official Army videos, newscasts and raw footage
  • RSS widget that can pull multiple feeds from external sites

4-Star Tweets

When I saw this article by Air Force General Craig McKinley (@ChiefNGB) about why he tweets, it got me thinking about military transparency. They are, after all, a huge part of the government — I should know, I grew up military, with a dad who’s still serving.

While I was visiting my parents over Thanksgiving, he was excited to show me a new recruiting video featuring some of his people, in a real-life scenario where they stop a piece of debris from colliding with a satellite. My dad doesn’t tweet, but the fact that he was excited about a video showing the real inner-workings of what we monitor in outer space suggested to me something beyond pride in his team. It dovetails with one of the reasons General McKinley gave for his tweeting habit.

What’s Gov 2.0’s return on investment?

I work in online marketing and social media for my “day job,” and we are endlessly consumed with how to measure returns on investment (ROI) in the Web 2.0 space.

There are similar issues with measuring Gov 2.0 ROI. You can involve yourself in all sorts of efforts — publicizing data, engaging in social media, utilizing email campaigns, encouraging questions, fostering transparancy. And all these things are great, but (just like with our marketing clients) someone’s got to answer for the bottom line. With governments tightening their belts and funding being cut, showing that investment in government transparency pays off is crucial.