Tag Archives: gov 2.0

Model Open Government Directive

In December, Kevin Curry, Alissa Black, Scott Primeau, and I began working on a model open government directive while at Citycamp Colorado.  After a flurry of work over the last month, we, with the help of a few dozen additional open government advocates, are able to bring you the model directive for local government.  This directive will help municipalities and state governments bring about open government in their communities.

As we state in the comments to the directive’s introduction:

The model Local Open Government Directive is intended to be an executive initiated order or directive to the local government under the executive’s legal authority.  An executive leader, such as a mayor, should use this model to adopt a directive for the city to help institutionalize open government principles within the city government.  This model may be tailored to meet the needs of the particular locality.

We modified, tailored, and improved the Federal open government directive for local government.  I encourage you to share this model directive with leaders in your communities and to lend support to our global open government efforts.  In partnership with OpenPlans, we are hosting the directive at opengovernmentinitative.org. In the next couple of days, you will find multiple versions of the directive to fit your needs for sharing the directive with others.

In addition, our friends at the Sunlight Foundation have created a site where you can sign up to show your support for this effort.  Please sign up at http://publicequalsonline.com/localopengovdirective/.

Finally, over the next few weeks and months, we intend to continue to create supporting materials and to draft model open government legislation to help institutionalize open government at all levels.  Together we can make transparency, participation, and collaboration possible in our governments.  If you are interested in getting more involved, please join the Open Government Initiative group.

In addition to Kevin, Alissa, and Scott, I’d like to particularly thank Philip Ashlock, Nicole Aro, and Sean Hudson.  I am forgetting a number of people, but thanks to everyone that participated in the Open Government Initiative group.

This post is a cross post from http://citycamp.govfresh.com/model-local-open-government-directive/.


From Design Thinking: Checks and balances

The following post is by Tim Brown, author of Change by Design and CEO and President of IDEO. Brown is Mr. Design Thinking. The introduction of design thinking and other methods of design into the public policy realm would have a significantly positive impact on the world. The issue raised by Brown in this post is also addressed by Eggers and O’Leary in there book “If We Can Put a Man on The Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government”.
Checks and balances via Design Thinking by Tim Brown on 11/29/10

What do words mean?

What is government 2.0/gov 2.0?  How do we define it?  Is it the same as open government?  Is it about technology? Is it about culture?  Is it a buzzword or marketing hook?  Is it a word people throw around to seem smart and hip?  

Well, I am not sure what the answer is to any of these and for the most part I don’t care.  But I have talked to a few non-govies lately and they look at me blankly when I have used Gov 2.0  in conversations.  So I found myself trying to explain it.  So here is a thought on the definition of gov 2.0.  How about democracy?  How about what government is supposed to be?

My point here is not to define gov 2.0 or any other term we throw around.  It is rather about how we talk and address the topic of gov 2.0 to the non-in coward.  The people not on Govloop.  People who don’t listen to Gov 2.0 Radio.  People who do not subscribe to any gov 2.0 related list serves or forums.

My contracts professor in Law School once asked my classmates and I, what do words mean?  A few my colleagues struggled in the law school tradition for a suitable answer.  In the end, my professor looked at us wisely and said in his dry midwestern style, “what we say they mean”.  It was a funny yet very true moment. If you don’t belief me, ask a lawyer to define consideration for you.  (or click here).  

Words matter, but understanding is more important.  If we confuse our audience with jargon and buzzwords, then we fail.  So perhaps, we should use plain and direct language to talk about our movement.  If you have to use jargon, make your definition clear.  But in the end, do not used jargon.  A Colorado Supreme Court Justice once told me and a group of others, relying on jargon is lazy.  So don’t be lazy when talking to people or when you write about our movement.  Its to important.  If it is hard. . . well all I can say is tough.      

If you really insist on using all of the in terms and talk, well then go talk and share your ideas with someone else.  Because the rest of us are busy doing and getting stuff done.  

In the end, we all have good ideas we want to talk about, but innovation requires us to do something with those ideas.  And right now our country and communities need us to execute on our good ideas.  

So lets get to work and get stuff done.  I’ll let you define stuff because you know the definition better than I do.

Rocky Mountain Gov 2.0 Camp

Today I am happy to announce that the first Rocky Mountain Gov 2.0 Camp in June 2010.  Government 2.0 Camp is a participant driven and group organized unconference about government’s use of social media tools and Web 2.0 technologies.  This camp will bring together government leaders, policy makers, scholars, students, contractors, and government employees to discuss and work collaboratively on improving government through technology.   

The goal of the camp is to share information about Government 2.0 initiatives that are already in process and to collaborate about how to leverage social media tools and Web 2.0 technologies to create a more collaborative, efficient, and effective government at the local, state, and federal levels.  Additional information about the event is available at http://barcamp.org/rmgov20camp (or the shorten link: http://bit.ly/5P14mc) and the Government 2.0 Camp Rocky Mountains group, http://groups.google.com/group/RMgov20camp?pli=1 (or the shorten link http://bit.ly/5QttB2).

The camp is tentatively scheduled for a Saturday in Mid-June.  The location is to be determined, but it will be in Metro-Denver-Boulder area.

This event is open to anyone interested in improving government.  We plan to provide free attendance for the event.  The Eventbrite registration site will be available soon. 

If you would like to take a more active role in organizing the event, please go to http://barcamp.org/rmgov20camp and contact the planners.  Some of ways you can help are by designing the event logo, arranging for camp t-shirts, meals, and helping with administration of the event.  Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.  As a barcamp style event, the participation of everyone will make the event a success. 

From RWW: Obama, Kids, & All Tomorrow’s Web Apps: President Focuses on Tech Education

Heres to teaching our kids about Science and Technology.




via ReadWriteWeb by Jolie O’Dell on 11/23/09

At the White House today, President Obama talked robots, hung out with the guys from MythBusters, and launched a campaign designed to create smarter, techier American kids.


“Reaffirming and strengthening America’s role as the world’s engine of scientific discovery and technological innovation is essential to meeting the challenges of this century,” said Obama.” That’s why I am committed to making the improvement of STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] education over the next decade a national priority.”



The campaign involves key partnerships with organizations from Sesame Street to Sony (whose PlayStation 3 console will be used for strengthening young minds through game design competitions), and it also features help from individuals such as Sally Ride (the first female astronaut) and a handful of digitally focused CEOs.


The Geek-In-Chief is also starting an annual science fair at the White House to inspire and promote young geeks who are doing great things in hardware, software, technology, science and robotics. We need, he said, to teach children to “be makers, not consumers.


“If you win the NCAA champtionships, you get to come to the White House… We’re going to show young people how cool science can be.”


And why do American kids need this level of convincing? Brace yourselves for bad news, patriots: Kids in the U.S. rank in the mid-twenties when scored against 30 other nations for math and science literacy. We are being drastically outperformed in these areas; in a time when technological innovation is the foundation and impetus for a lot of other cultural and economic factors, can we afford to not develop competencies in tech and science?


The President doesn’t think so, and he’s directing funds accordingly. He further announced that the $4.35 billion Race to the Top school grant program will give preference to states that commit to improving STEM education.


Obama hopes the campaign will increase STEM literacy for students, improve the quality of teaching in these areas, and promote better education and work opportunities for underrepresented groups – such as women and minorities – in tech.


In the recent past, we’ve told you about Obama’s financial and moral support for startups, his masterful use of the social web – both as a candidate for the office and as President – and the change, recovery, data, and health care reform initiatives he’s conducted online. He may not personally use Twitter (yet), but he does use a Creative Commons license for his Flickr photos. It seems fairly clear to us that Obama cares about where the country is going technologically, and we hope this focus on STEM education will help us all in the long term.


Check out the President’s 18-minute address, which outlines his plan to use the $260 million-valued campaign to bring struggling American students into world domination:



Check out some of the implementations of the partnerships Obama references above on the Digital Media and Learning Competition website, and look out for Discovery Channel’s commercial-free block of science programming for kids launching next year.


And for those of you with an inclination to volunteer, check out this National Lab Day website matching classroom needs to volunteer expertise. American kids apparently need to learn about phone app programming, entrepreneurialism and plain old hardware just as much as they need to focus on engineering robots – a favorite topic of teachers, students and the President, as well.


“I believe that robotics can inspire students,” he said while introducing a student project designed to collect and throw moon rocks. “I also want to keep an eye on those robots in case they try anything.” We officially love you, Mr. President. And yes, let’s get those kids into labs and in front of glowing screens – for the right reasons this time. Discuss

Transparency – when a good thing goes bad!

In an October 9th article in the New Republic, Lawrence Lessig authored an important critique of the transparency movement. Primarily asking the questions – transparency is all fine and good, but what is the end?

Lessig’s article and a related article by Jill Lepore, which takes a critical look at the history of scientific management, in The New Yorker point out that what seems to be a good idea at one time may not be in the long run, especially if not examined.  As the saying goes “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”  Thus, without careful review the rush to transparency may lead to unintended consequence that we do not want and may jeopardizes the good that could have been achieved by opening up government data.

In fact, Lessig points out the non-contextual nature of raw data.   Without context, data can saying anything.  An example that comes to mind is the Denver Post’s effort to publish the salaries of all Colorado state government workers in the Post’s data center (the information is no longer available).  As a pure transparency matter, such publication is not a bad idea.  However, this data cannot speak the whole story alone.  The data that was release simply stated the name of the employee, the employee’s agency or department, the employee’s state classification, and salary.  The data did not say if the employee worked for a full year or not.  The data did not say if the employee was promoted or demoted during the year.  The data did not say what the employee’s job was.  The data was without context.  So yes a few department of transportation drivers appear to have huge salaries.  Why?  They drive snow plows and work lots of over time.  Was the information useful?  Yes.  But without the context it does not tell the whole story. 

Neither Lessig’s article nor this post on O’Reilly Radar, which highlights both Lessig and Lepore articles, condemn open government data/transparency, rather they point to the need for goals and to ask the important question of “what is the end?”  I support transparency fully and think government does need to open up more information.  But we do need to think about what will be the benefits and the costs.  And if we are republishing, redisturbing, or mashuping any of the data for use as a policy tool, we must provide context and avoid bias whenever possible.

Legislink.org – legislative links made readable

Finding legislative materials is often have the battle of staying informed on what law makers are doing.   Sites like opencongress.org and govtrack.us are aimed at making congressional information more accessible and do a good job at achieving this goal.  A new project, legislink.org, recently started with the same aim of making legislative and statutory information more accessible.  Legislink goes about this task differently by creating human readable URL that direct the user to the legislative information found on the government’s site. 

Legislink is not necessarily a better product.  Just a different way of getting to important information.  (I should disclose that I have contributed to the legislink project on bring it to the state level in Colorado).   What I think legislink does extremely well is get the user to the source of the information, the government.   Now republishing the legislative material on a new site like Opencongress or govtrack is fine, but why not go to the source of the information first.

Legislink does this by creating URL that can be cited much more easily than the official URLs provide by legislative sites. 

For instance,  the official Colorado legislative URL for House Bill 08-1266 (a bill I also worked on) is http://www.leg.state.co.us/clics/clics2008a/csl.nsf/fsbillcont3/A254528A18722054872573D1006E26DA?Open&file=1266_enr.pdf.  The legislink URL is http://legislink.org/us-co?HB-08-1266.   I think that is easier, but you be the judge.  In addition, legislink allows users to go directly to  a specific section of the piece of legislation, such as section 8 of HB08-1266, http://legislink.org/us-co?HB-08-1266-8.  If a bill of interest is long or if you are looking for a specific section of a bill, this feature is extremely helpful.

As a I state above, legislink is not necessarily the answer.  Just as opencongress and govtrack are not the answer.   But these sites are a step in the right direction to making government information more accessible.  

So in the spirit of Chris Brogan, I must applaud Joe Cramel, a retired IT manager for the US Congress, for getting it right by creating the legislink project.   I am also encouraging others to participate in building and expanding legisllink by joining the conversation and contributing to the effort on the project wiki.