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Tag Archives: Information-Technology

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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

The Best Government Tech of the Bush Years

Wired has a list of “smart ways different federal agencies started using technology during the last eight years. It’s not mind-blowing, but it’s not terrible.”

Examples of Agencies Using Online Content and Technology to Achieve Mission and Goals (UNOFFICIAL DRAFT, November 26, 2008. Sent to Wired Magazine.)

The Best Government Tech of the Bush Years, By Nicholas Thompson, Wired, January 23, 2009.

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.”

Buzzword Glossary: Cloud Computing, Virtualization, BitTorrent

Have you been puzzled by these three terms? Do you understand them, but need to explain them to non-technical colleagues? Here is a nice article that explains cloud computing, virtualization, and Torrents in easy to understand language. The article describes these as “Profound movements in computer and Internet use.”

Trends for 2009: Cloud Computing, Virtualization and BitTorrent, by Jack Dunning, ComputorEdge Online, (12/26/08).

I particularly like the illustration of how BitTorrent works from Wikipedia.

The Transition: Information, Technology, and Information-Technology

There is a lot going on during the current transition to a new Administration with regard to information policy, technology policy, and information-technology (IT) policy. Sometimes these overlap, but not always. I wanted to take this opportunity to bring together some resources relevant to government information and technology policies during this transition period.

John Shuler has begun some comments here on FGI, which I hope will spark comments and discussion.

The Environmental Protection Agency has had an ongoing National Dialogue on Access to Environmental Information since April, and they have issued a draft report:

The Government Accountability Office has a website for it to provide “insight into, and recommendations for addressing, the nation’s major issues, risks and challenges” and information technology is mentioned there in relation to everything from the Agriculture, to Census, to Veterans.

As mentioned here earlier, the Obama-Biden Transition Project (a 501c(4) organization) has set up a .gov website, Change.gov, which they call the Office of the President-Elect. It has a blog, position papers, agendas, and includes a page on technology:

Over at the Sunlight foundation, Gabriela Schneider, the Communications Director, interviewed several Sunlight staff members to get their opinions on how the next administration can be more open and transparent.

And John Wonderlich at Sunlight has a posting that, though not specifically about IT policy, is very interesting in terms of the transition. He has tracked down a number of most relevant CRS reports on Members of Congress in transition and the mechanisms of congressional authority, how Members are assigned to committees, to chairmanships, to status as ranking members; how leadership positions are determined, and so forth:

I will certainly be following John Shuler’s comments here closely and invite everyone to add their comments here at FGI about the issues and opportunities that will affect access to government information.

FEMA struggles to upgrade information technology

FEMA plays catch-up on IT infrastructure