Mark Drapeau, a fellow at the Center for Technology and National Security Policy, writing for PBS' MediaShift blog:
Behind every press release, web page, and social networking account is a person. But when people "hide" behind organizational brands, it reduces the authenticity and transparency that people -- citizens, customers, fans -- have become accustomed to seeing in the Web 2.0 world. New social tools and niche communications can empower people to connect with their audiences on a more personal level through what has been termed "ambient awareness" or ambient intimacy.
Courtney Holliday from the First Amendment Center reports that the Environmental Protection Agency is halting its library closures plan "in response to heavy criticism from lawmakers and advocacy groups":
"Under pressure from members of Congress and groups such as the ALA, the EPA announced in January that it would not close additional libraries until more public outreach was done, according to the Library Journal."
So it's not over yet, per se.
The GAO released a report today on FOIA entitled "Processing Trends Show Importance of Improvement Plans." [PDF] From the "Highlights" page:
The improvement plans submitted by the 25 agencies mostly included goals and timetables addressing the four areas of improvement emphasized by the Executive Order: eliminating or reducing any backlog of FOIA requests; increasing reliance on dissemination of records that can be made available to the public without the need for a FOIA request, such as through posting on Web sites; improving communications with requesters about the status of their requests; and increasing public awareness of FOIA processing. Most of the plans (20 of 25) provided goals and timetables in all four areas; some agencies omitted goals in areas where they considered they were already strong. Although details of a few plans could be improved, all the plans focus on making measurable improvements and form a reasonable basis for carrying out the goals of the Executive Order.
New data from the University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index shows that e-government websites rate 73.4 points out of 100 in customer satisfaction. Stephen Barr noted in today's "Federal Diary" column in the Washington Post, "Comparable private-sector scores were higher, ranging from 76.5 to 80."
Barr discussed the survey with Larry Freed, CEO of the website consulting company ForeSee Results. Freed said while government sites are under budgetary and legislative constraints, they should strive to make the information on their sites easier for the public to locate.
"It is important to understand that scientists don't know for sure what climate change will bring. Some changes brought about by climate change will be good. If you live in a very cool climate, warmer temperatures might be welcome. Days and nights could be more comfortable and people in the area may be able to grow different and better crops than they could before. But it is also true that changes in some places will not be very good at all."
One of my classmates pointed this gem out.
Politico reporter John Bresnahan noted a brief item currently on the front page of CQ's PoliticalMoneyLine about the "minor changes" the Federal Election Commission wants to make to its System of Records.
"In a bland Federal Register Notice requesting public comment on a System of Records, the Federal Election Commission seeks to restrict access to the reports of the agencyâ€™s Inspector General unless the requestor has the permission of the individual involved."
Bresnahan explains that a former FEC official is being investigated for misappropriation of funds that were used to settle a sexual harassment complaint. According to PoliticalMoneyLine:
"For the FEC this means the Inspector Generalâ€™s report on the activities of the last Staff Director and his supervision, or lack of supervision, by the Commissioners could not be made available to the White House or Congress unless the former staff director and other individuals involved granted approval."
The FEC is accepting public comments on the requested revisions until the end of the business day tomorrow. Here's how to submit a comment, from the Federal Register notice:
Comments should be addressed in writing to Thomasenia P. Duncan, Privacy Act Officer, Federal Election Commission, 999 E Street, NW., Washington, DC 20463, and must be received by close of business on February 23, 2007. Comments also may be sent via electronic mail to Privacy@fec.gov.
"The website is intended to provide a searchable database of federal grants, contracts, loans, and other spending. This initial version fulfills a requirement in the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (PL 109-282), known as FFATA."
The site is sparse right now, but it does have a PDF copy of the FFATA and its implementation schedule.
The latter site is geared towards federal employees and aims to show how well government agencies are performing in relation to the President's Management Agenda. It's kind of a strange site, though. One of the boxes on the front page is entitled, "Don't You Agree? Apply to You?" This reminds me of a subject heading from a Nigerian scam email for some reason.
I find the rating system for the Executive Branch Management Scorecard a bit silly:
- Green for success,
- Yellow for mixed results, and
- Red for unsatisfactory.
The ratings are given for each agency at its highest level. This is understandable, but a classmate of mine pointed out that you're not seeing how divisions of the agencies are performing. If you work for the IRS, you're only seeing how the Treasury Department is doing on the whole. If you work for the USCIS, you're only seeing how Homeland Security is performing. (Or not performing, if you look at the PDF of the December 2006 scorecard.)
I don't know how much guidance each division receives on how to improve or maintain their scores, though. If you have any insights on this, please feel free to comment.