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Technology and the Obama Administration

Here is a good overview of some of the technology issues and opportunities that the Obama administration will be dealing with soon.

Mentioned as a key contender for the position as the first-ever chief technology officer (CTO) for the federal government is Vivek Kundra, Washington D.C.’s CTO, where he has demonstrated the possibility of using technology to truly enhance government information.

The article notes that the relationship between the federal CTO and the current position of administrator of e-government and information technology at OMB will need to be defined and that the CTO “will have to convince department heads to dedicate enough resources to overhaul the way they generate information.”

For example, instead of static Web pages and disparate formats, such as PDF files and other kinds of database-generated files that each department comes up with when presenting public information, each department may have to start standardizing the formats of their streams of information so that those seeking access will find it more useable and ready to analyze.

One example of this idea already underway is at the SEC, which has required since Jan. 1 that all public corporations and mutual funds file their financial reports in a specific Web format known as eXtensible Business Reporting Language. The idea is that the information would become more accessible on the Web, and to the public at large. The information would be available in a format that Web applications and spiders could more easily interpret than a simple text of PDF file. As a result, it would become more accessible to the public in a more timely fashion — rather than being buried and obscured in a database.

In a 2007 interview at Google with YouTube’s News and Politics Editor Steve Grove, Obama said

“If we can apply technology to some of the biggest issues we face, [such as ] health care, energy, or education, then we can leap over some of the problems that have been plaguing us for a very, very long time. And one of the things that I’ve seen is that technology gets pushed aside as something separate, when in fact, it’s really an opportunity to make progress that we haven’t seen in a long time.”

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