1-2-3-4 Open Up The Government’s Doors

1-2-3-4 Open up the government’s doors


     5-6-7-8 Let our nation operate


1-2-3-4 Open up the government’s doors


     5-6-7-8 Fix our broken directorate



1-2-3-4 Open up the government’s Doors


    5-6-7-8 Better for us to negotiate



1-2-3-4 Open up the government’s doors


    5-6-7-8 Get things done for Goodness sake



1-2-3-4 Open up the government’s doors


    5-6-7-8 We have no more time to cogitate



1-2-3-4 Open up the government’s doors


    5-6-7-8 Get the employees back to progress the state



1-2-3-4 Open up the government’s doors


    5-6-7-8 Blaming each other only exasperate


1-2-3-4 Open up the government’s doors


    5-6-7-8 Democracy means we must work it out



1-2-3-4 Open up the government’s doors


    5-6-7-8 Polarized politics destroys our clout



1-2-3-4 Open up the government’s doors

   

    5-6-7-8 The people are sick and tired of this useless way



1-2-3-4 Open up the government’s doors


    5-6-7-8 Terms limits are needed to sway



1-2-3-4 Open up the government’s doors


    5-6-7-8 Dysfunctional government can’t continue unabate



1-2-3-4 Open up the government’s doors


   5-6-7-8 We’re sick and tired of ignoring realpolitik



1-2-3-4 Open up the government’s doors

   5-6-7-8 Grow up and show some unifying leadership



1-2-3-4 Open up the government’s doors


    5-6-7-8 Finally put people’s needs first



1-2-3-4 Open up the government’s doors


    5-6-7-8 Stop playing with our country’s fate



1-2-3-4 Open up the government’s doors


    5-6-7-8 National security and our economy depend on it



1-2-3-4 Open up the government’s doors


    5-6-7-8 It’s time to get things done and not wait



1-2-3-4 Open up the government’s doors


    5-6-7-8 Serve the people and cut out the hate


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Records Manager Appreciation Day!

Records Management is not about 45s, 33s, or 8-track music collections, but managing key document and electronic records.

It’s critically important for an organization to be able to archive and access needed information for managing their business, and enabling transparency and accountability.

Managing records saves us time and money in the long run

Moreover, as information workers in an information economy, information is power! And we need to be able to get to information, whenever and wherever we need it.

While records may not be sexy unless you’re Lady Gaga or Madonna, information is the lifeblood of the 21st century, so say thank you to your records management and information access professionals today! 😉

What If They Can Read Our Redactions?

What If They Can Read Our Redactions?

The New Yorker has a fascinating article about technology advances being made to un-redact classified text from government documents.

Typically, classified material is redacted from disclosed documents with black bars that are technologically “burnt” into the document.

With the black bars, you are not supposed to be able to see/read what is behind it because of the sensitivity of it.

But what if our adversaries have the technology to un-redact or un-burn and autocomplete the words behind those black lines and see what it actually says underneath?

Our secrets would be exposed! Our sensitive assets put at jeopardy!

Already a Columbia University professor is working on a Declassification Engine that uses machine learning and natural language processing to determine semantic patterns that could give the ability “to predict content of redacted text” based on the words and context around them.

In the case, declassified information in the document is used in aggregate to “piece together” or uncover the material that is blacked out.

In another case prior, a doctoral candidate at Dublin City University in 2004, used “document-analysis technologies” to decrypt critical information related to 9/11.

This was done by also using syntax or structure and estimating the size of the word blacked out and then using automation to run through dictionary words to see if it would fit along with another “dictionary-reading program” to filter the result set to the likely missing word(s).

The point here is that with the right technology redacted text can be un-redacted.

Will our adversaries (or even allies) soon be able to do this, or perhaps, someone out there has already cracked this nut and our secrets are revealed?

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Newspaper Club)

FOIA Making Us Stronger

To commemorate 46 years since the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was passed on July 4, 1966, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) came out with a infographic showing the significant progress that has been made in government transparency and areas they still see for possible improvement.

Similarly, Government Executive Magazine ran an feature article in June 2012 called “The Truth Behind Transparency,” calling progress with open government as “tough to gauge.”

The basic idea of FOIA as the website for Sunshine Week put it is: “the public’s right to know about its government.”

Obviously, as GovExec points out, one of the main questions over the years with FOIA is “how quickly and fully do agencies respond to FOIA requests?”

To much and too soon, and do you perhaps put at risk various sensitive information, jeopardizing elements of the functioning of government itself?

Too little and too late, and then is the opportunity for mismanagement, waste, fraud, and abuse simply an after fact?

As Beth Novek, former deputy chief technology officer for open government, described it, open government is a “shorthand for open innovation or the idea that working in a transparent, participatory, and collaborative fashion helps improve performance, inform decision-making, encourage entrepreneurship and solve problems more effectively.”

Transparency can aid in accountability by shedding a light on leadership and its performance management. It can also be a great opportunity to bring new ideas and opinions to the fold, perhaps leading to better decisions and results, at the end of the day, for all.

The challenge for government is to guard against any information risks to the safety and security of our nation.

An informed nation, is a stronger nation–to me, it is a foundation of a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Government and the people working together, duly informed, to confront our toughest challenges and solve our greatest problems.

Have Your Voice Heard

There is a new application from the White House called “We The People” for crowdsourcing public opinion and getting your voice heard on policy issues.
This is an easy way to let the administration know your opinions and get others to sign on as well.
It’s simple to set up an account–just input your name, email, and zip code and verify your account.
Then you can sign existing petitions or create your own and share the link with others via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Here’s how to create a petition in 10 easy steps:
1) Sign on to your White House.gov account
2) Create an action statement (i.e. petition headline)
3) Select up to 3 issue categories
4) Review existing petitions on the same subjects
5) Sign the other petitions and/or create your own
6) Describe your petition in 800 words or less
7) Add key words (tags).
8) Preview and edit
9) Publish
10) Share
According to the site, the current threshold for getting an official response is 5,000 signatures within 30 days.
So petition away and let your voice be heard on important issues to you–this is your hotline to the President and his staff.
I can’t think of a better use of social media than this.
(I work for the government, but am not representing them here…all opinions my own.)

Misappropriating Twitter

By now we are all familiar with the news story regarding a prominent lawmaker, recently married, who admitted to a longstanding pattern of inappropriate sexual exploits via Twitter.

 

As The Wall Street Journal (9 June 2011) notes, the individual got caught when he “mistakenly sent the photo to tens of thousands of Twitter followers,” rather than as a private message.

 

As a public servant who is a proponent of social media technology used appropriately, I was very concerned when I saw this in the news (note: all opinions my own).

 

The government needs social media tools like Twitter. It is an important tool for sharing information and alerts. It is obviously not for “sexting” your followers, especially with a Twitter handle that is apparently coming from someone in the government.

 

Twitter is an important means of engaging the public in important ways, moving this great country forward on policy issues and a vision that is noble, righteous, and for the betterment of our world. What a shame when these tools are misappropriated!

 

So while I cannot say “with certitude” what exactly this person was thinking, I am certain that we need social media in government and that there are numerous positive ways for it to be applied.  With the caveat that the basis for social media by anyone in government has to be truth, transparency and genuine outreach on issues of importance to the people.

 

A lot of government people and agencies are doing a good job with Twitter and other social media tools. Let’s go back to focusing on the positive work that we can do with them, even as we note with caution how badly they can be misused. 

 

>A Winning App Is Not Only an App Winner

>

In the government, just getting an “app winner” doesn’t necessarily mean you have a “winning app.” But that’s not stopping us “govies” from making progress!

As we all know, the Apple iStore has become hugely successful, with over 225,000 apps and the Android Market with almost 90,000 apps.

These marketplaces have grown fast and furiously because there is a simple and direct road from building the app to commercializing it. In the case of Apple, for example, I understand that the developer walks away with 70% of the revenue, Apple gets 30%, and the consumer can simply download the apps and start using it. Presto!

The government has attempted to capitalize on this apps development strategy by putting government data out there (i.e. data.gov) and letting the developers do their thing (i.e. create apps that are supposed to be useful to citizens).

In distinction to the private sector, the government doesn’t have a marketplace where developers simply make their apps “available” for use. While in the Apple store, any developer can post an app for use, in the government there is no open store like that.

To spur apps development, a number of government agencies have been hosting contests for best applications, but despite the fanfare, many do not get past the initial stage.

Government Technology Magazine (July 2010) in an article titled “Life After Apps” quotes Chris Vein, the CIO of San Francisco, who states that “just because it [an app] wins doesn’t mean the jurisdiction actually gets to use it.

Jay Nath, the innovation manager of San Francisco explains that “because applications submitted in the competitions don’t go through normal procurement channels, cities cannot use them as ‘official’ apps.”

Whether this changes at some point down the road, I do not know, but it seems like something for government procurement specialists to look at, because there may be an opportunity here to save money and serve taxpayers more effectively.

Even Washington, D.C., which became famous for its 2008 apps contest, is rethinking the “apps craze.” The city has discontinued its annual Apps for Democracy competition due to concerns over “sustainability and value of apps produced.” The District wants to look again at how to engage entrepreneurs to “solve core government problems.”

Nevertheless, there are signs that government interest in developing apps through contests remains strong. For example, “Apps for Army,” a contest for Army personnel, launched on March 1.

In a similar vein, the General Services Administration recently announced that they are using “ChallengePost” to announce contests and have the public suggest, discuss, and rate ideas. This is now being used for AppsForHealthyKids.com, a competition sponsored by First Lady Michelle Obama as part of her important campaign to end childhood obesity.

Overall, there is a lot of innovation out there in government, and a strong desire to collaborate with the public. DC and San Francisco and other major cities as well as the federal government are taking the conversation about apps development to the next level in terms of governance best practices for getting value from them and ultimately bringing the apps to the users who need them.