U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

HHS seeks entrepreneurs for year-long fellowships

Applications for the Department of Health & Human Services HHS Entrepreneurs program are now open to innovators interested in working for a year-long stint alongside federal government employees on “high-risk, high-reward projects.”

Federal Communications Commission

Seven habits of a highly effective FCC

Federal Communications Commission Chief Information Officer David Bray has outlined a new technology modernization strategy that includes teleworking, cloud-based collaborations, access to open data, an “open source by default” policy and more transparency into agency operations.

GitHub

GitHub and the C-suite social

Much like we pooh-poohed Twitter in those early days, GitHub, in its early crawl, is today dismissed simply as a tool for the diehard developer. However, as with any tool with great potential, innovators find new ways to leverage emerging technology to communicate, and government chief information and technology officers can effectively do this with GitHub.

Photo: U.S. Health & Human Services

The politics of physics (and healthcare.gov)

Since last October the U.S. media, in full orgasmic throng, has been barking madly over the fate of the Healthcare.gov rollout. There has been overwhelming and obdurate polarization around positions on issues that would, in other arenas, be viewed through the objective lens of what most agree are facts.

U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park with President Obama (Photo: White House)

An API strategy for the U.S. government

I was asked to provides some thoughts on what is next for the U.S. government’s application programming interface strategy. I’ve put a lot of thought into it during my work and travels over the last couple months since I’ve left Washington, D.C., and I keep coming back to one thought: strengthen what we have.

Federal Communications Commission

New FCC CIO launches blog, joins Twitter

Federal Communications Commission Chief Information Officer David Bray announced Tuesday a new blog, Twitter handle and hashtag in an effort to open up communications on the agency’s technology strategy and operations.

Chicago’s effort to grow our own talent

In recent months, we’ve highlighted several efforts to teach young people how to code and about technology. These efforts have included Englewood Codes, Civic Summer and Adler Planetarium’s Youth Hackathon.

Voter ID and Civic Innovation

Since 2008, there has been a wave of voting law changes that impose barriers to the ballot box. Georgia Rep. John Lewis, a veteran of “Bloody Sunday,” called the new laws “the most concerted effort to restrict the right to vote since before the Voting Rights Act.”

The right to vote is being chiseled away by voter ID laws that require voters to show government-issued photo ID in order to vote.

Cost of Freedom Project Logo

In December, the Department of Justice blocked South Carolina’s voter ID law on the grounds it would make it harder for minorities to vote in violation of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Mississippi and Texas voting ID laws also must be pre-cleared but Texas is not waiting. The Lone Star State filed a federal lawsuit in an effort to speed up a decision.

Strict photo ID requirements will be in place in at least five states – Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Tennessee and Wisconsin — In November. With Election Day less than nine months away, voters without an official photo ID cannot wait for the challenges to play out at the Justice Department and in the courts.

In Wisconsin, for instance, voters must navigate “The 4 Proofs.”

I am a founding member of the Election Protection Coalition. Still, looking at the infographic makes my head hurt. More worrisome, it discourages voters from completing the application process. So I presented the problem of TMI (read: disenfranchisement by design) at Random Hacks of Kindness and the Hackathon for Social Good. Citizen programmers developed solutions to quickly provide voters with information on how to get a voter ID.

During Social Week Washington, DC, I gave a demo of the Cost of Freedom web-based app developed by Kin Lane, API Evangelist for CityGrid.

Users in Wisconsin can forget about “The 4 Proofs.” Instead, in four clicks or less, they will be able to access information about the state’s voter ID requirements, how to obtain a certified copy of their birth certificate (the document that’s typically produced to establish one’s identity), and the location, hours and directions to the Office of Vital Records using public transit.

I also gave a live demo of the Cost of Freedom text-based app developed by Jack Aboutboul, Twilio’s API Evangelist. Twilio is making an in-contribution of text message services to promote voter education.

To commemorate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we plan to launch the Cost of Freedom App on April 4, 2012.

I will post regular updates about the Cost of Freedom Project and other initiatives that are using civic innovation to protect the right to vote. The conversation about voter ID also gives us an opportunity to raise awareness about disruptive technologies in the public sector beyond election administration.

For more information, please visit us at Facebook.com/CostofFreedom. You can sign up to receive notice when the Cost of Freedom App is launched. Continue reading

photo by freephotouk

USDOT in the social media slow lane

The U.S. Department of Transportation is officially nowhere to be found in social media circles, but DOT Secretary Ray LaHood is everywhere, including Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.

Challenge.gov brings citizens, government together for civic solutions

The General Services Administration has launched Challenge.gov as part of an effort to help “government and the public work together to find solutions.” Citizens can vote to support a challenge, contribute to a discussion board and federal agencies can post their own challenges to the site. According to the Challenge.gov Website, “this platform is the latest milestone in the Administration’s commitment to use prizes and challenges to promote innovation.”

Government, citizen developers join forces to build new Federal Register 2.0 Website

The Federal Register has launched a re-design of its Website, federalregister.gov. The new site is XML-based and was developed using open source code (now available on GitHub).

“The Daily Journal of the United States,” the FR is managed by the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) and serves as “the legal newspaper of the U.S. government and contains rules, proposed rules, and public notices of federal agencies, as well Presidential documents.”

FedSpace wants your ideas

The General Services Administration is now soliciting ideas for FedSpace, the intranet for federal government employees. As they did during the Open Government Directive, they’re using the crowdsourcing platform IdeaScale to manage submissions.

HITECH Act and government access to private health records

When the Electronic Freedom of Information Act was passed into law, ordinary citizens were allowed access to previously secret government data. With the new Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (the HITECH Act) the government is now attempting to view and organize our country’s private health records. It’s quite a project.

FedSpace answers, more questions, recommendations

The General Services Administration recently announced it will create FedSpace, a ‘new social intranet for federal employees and contractors.’ The project will be managed by the agency’s Office of Citizen Services and the initial version is expected to launch late summer.

GSA not ‘awesome’ when it comes to implied endorsement

I’m all for public-private collaboration.

GSA’s Office of Citizen Services is one of my favorite ideas for a government agency and inter-agency service. The work it does is fantastic, and its leadership is exceptional.

I’m also a big fan of GovLoop and have a great relationship with founder Steve Ressler. Steve has been gracious enough to feature me as a ‘GovLoop Member of the Week,’ and I regularly try to post updates on what’s happening over there.

Having said that, I’m wary of GSA’s implied endorsement of GovLoop, notably on it’s Resources page (Figure A) and in its recent ‘Government by Collaboration’ newsletter (Figure B) that includes an article by GovLoop with the headline ‘GovLoop’s “Extraordinary Collection of Talent.”‘

You go gURL: GSA turns on URL shortener Go.USA.gov

GSA announced it has officially opened up its URL shortener Go.USA.gov to anyone with a .mil, .gov, .fed.us or .si.edu email address. The site lets users create trustworthy short .gov URLs on Twitter and other online services with character restrictions and was developed by the team behind USA.gov along with members of the Drupal community.

Should government outsource long-term or crisis-related social media?

Just noticed this contract solicitation submitted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a ‘professional media services company with experience and reliability in the deployment and delivery of professional broadcast transmission equipment and crews to various locations … used during pre- and post-declared federal disasters to support the OEA in its mission to prepare and disseminate information to the public.’

Having an outside contractor be heavily responsible for this role detaches the agency from its mission-critical work. I can understand services related to training and establishing processes that can then be left for agency employees to execute, but on-call assistance? Long-term or crisis-related social media and outreach should be the agency’s core focus.

What do you think?

GovRx: Prescription for immigrant healthcare

Regardless of nationality, people from all over the world are treated in American hospitals. You don’t have to be a U.S. citizen to purchase private health insurance in the U.S. nor do you have to be a citizen to pay to see a doctor. The U.S. has a private healthcare system that is open to everybody, who pays.

How open was Obama’s YouTube interview?

Earlier this week, President Obama took questions from YouTube via CitizenTube. The event was part of an effort to crowdsource citizen questions to the president after his State of the Union speech. According to YouTube, 772,350 votes were cast on 14,456 questions from 64,969 people.

5 government sites using Drupal effectively for open government initiatives

By now, most people in the Gov 2.0 community have heard of Drupal, the popular open source social publishing system powering close to 500,000 websites ranging from big government to Britney Spears. Drupal has seen steady growth from its inception as a Belgian grad student’s experiment in 2001 to one of the most heavily used open source content management systems in the world, downloaded by a quarter million people per month. A growing trend the Drupal community is following closely this year is government interest in the platform to further open government initiatives and broaden adoption across government.