Posts Tagged ‘government’

On the Forum on Modernizing Government

January 19th, 2010

Here’s a YouTube playlist of videos published by The White House, which includes the complete forum sessions that followed the President’s opening remarks.1

The forum is a series of round table panel discussions, featuring executives from the private sector (CEOs, CTOs, etc), as well as government officials brainstorming, sharing their experiences, and making recommendations.

One of my favorite parts comes at 0:56:25:

If the inefficiency isn’t captured and measured, and staring you in the face, it isn’t gonna be tackled as a project in the first place… If the government takes on a culture of streamlining, and attacking inefficiency, and looking for resource maximization, you’re going to start looking introspectively and measuring things that will — for the first time — put a line of sight on the inefficiency.

Watching all of these isn’t exactly an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride, to be sure, but think about how many times you or I have even had the opportunity to be a “fly on the wall” during official government discourse. The very idea that this forum was live-streamed and published for free public access is a fantastic example of the sorts of operational practices that I deeply hope to see continue growing in practice, particularly even after the present Administration has completed its term in Washington.


  1. Start from video 2 in the playlist if you’ve already seen the President’s remarks, and just want to skip to the round table discussion.

Government 2.0 , ,

Yours and Mine: the NYC Data Mine

October 10th, 2009

Thursday was a happy day1 for me. I was quite proud to learn yesterday that NYC has finally publicly demonstrated some evidence of tangible commitment to participating in the “open government” movement.

On 8 October 2009, NYC published a collection of open datasets in various machine-readable formats, from RSS feeds, spreadsheets, and more. These datasets are available at the NYC Data Mine. The NYC Data Mine is presently divided into two general types of datasets: the Geo Data Catalog, which offers “administrative and political boundaries, facilities and structures, and various imagery and base maps”; and the Raw Data Catalog, which offers all sorts of other types of data in the form of spreadsheets, RSS feeds, and various XML document formats.

Having browsed at what’s presently published in the NYC Data Mine, I must admit that – in its present state – I find the breadth of the offered data to be lacking. If this is the final state of things, it’d be lame compared – for example – to the data that the state of Utah has published.

That said, I’m willing to give NYC the benefit of the doubt here. Every effort has to start somewhere.

Moving forward, however, I’d still like to see the following:

  • A complete itemization of the City’s expenditures, down to the dime, including staff and office-holder payrolls.

  • NYC public school data, from student performance metrics to faculty information and budgetary expenditures to nutritional reports outlining what foods are served (and the serving volume) by each school.

  • Geo data showing property and business taxes collected by the City, perhaps down to the block level (I can anticipate concerns over privacy issues arising at any greater granularity).

  • Public heath care data, including frequency of reported ailments, injury, etc at each hospital, school, and other institution.

Note that, in all cases, data collection should err on the side of preserving anonymity, whenever there is reasonable concern that the data can be traced back to specific private citizens (especially with respect to specific individuals’ health and educational situations).

But the announcement of NYC’s Data Mine is only part of the story.

The City also launched NYC BigApps, a competition intended to raise awareness of this new open dataset, and to promote its use to create new tools to serve New Yorker City residents, businesses, and visitors.

From Mayor Bloomberg’s introductory post on the competition site’s blog:

NYC BigApps provides a competitive outlet for developers and encourages the general public to get involved as well. We welcome public comment on the process – indicate your support for the competition, share app ideas, and inform contestants on what type of app you’d like to see.

Ultimately it’s great to finally see NYC – my city – step up to the plate on the open government scene. There’s yet a long (long) way to go, but yesterday’s announcements do give me a glimmer of hope.

So — anyone up for a hackathon weekend… or three?


  1. I couldn’t resist.

Government 2.0 ,

Tim O’Reilly: “Government as a Platform”

July 28th, 2009

Tim O’Reilly, of O’Reilly Media, Inc., discussing the idea of government as a platform vs. government as a vending machine at OSCON 2009 (20 mins):

Tim’s thoughts here echo, add flesh around, and enhance some concepts that will be discussed in the piece that I’d been writing throughout parts of my recent vacation to Greece.

A more concise summary of these ideas is also available for those with time constraints (4 mins):

Check it out, Government 2.0 , , , Launches

May 21st, 2009

I’m so excited about this, I couldn’t wait to post about it before diving in. I present proudly to you

From the site’s home page:

The purpose of is to increase public access to high value, machine readable datasets generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government. Although the initial launch of provides a limited portion of the rich variety of Federal datasets presently available, we invite you to actively participate in shaping the future of by suggesting additional datasets and site enhancements to provide seamless access and use of your Federal data. Visit today with us, but come back often.

Thank you, Obama Administration, for sincerely treating federal data as belonging to the People.

Check it out, Linking Out , , , ,

Mesopotamia 2.0

April 21st, 2009

A bunch of Silicon Valley execs are in Iraq, apparently “explore new opportunities to support Iraqi government and non-government stakeholders in Iraq’s emerging new media industry.”

From the press release:

The delegation [...] will provide conceptual input as well as ideas on how new technologies can be used to build local capacity, foster greater transparency and accountability, build upon anti-corruption efforts, promote critical thinking in the classroom, scale-up civil society, and further empower local entities and individuals by providing the tools for network building.

I can’t decide whether this is pure genius or utter madness. [Via TechCrunch]

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