Friday, January 30, 2009

Oh My Gosh…They’re Getting It Right!

I’m literally doing a happy dance (and no, that’s not something you’d want to see)! I just read in Nancy Scola’s blog piece on TechPresident that Google's Katie Jacobs Stanton will be joining the White House as the new Director of Citizen Participation. Now that, in itself, is very good news…that the Obama administration values citizen participation is huge. That he made such an excellent choice for that post is terrific. But what’s really got me excited was this: “Stanton, sources say, will be part of the White House New Media Team headed up by Macon Phillips -- putting ‘citizen participation’ under the White House communications umbrella, it seems.” Oh my gosh…they’re getting it right!

Do you realize how powerful this could be for those of us who champion providing good citizen service via the web? To look at citizen participation and new media as part of government communications, at the highest level…well, that is exactly what needs to be done to make major improvements in government web management. I was optimistic about the changes these folks might bring about for our community, but this is the first hard proof that it’s happening. Sorry – but I just have to do this: Woo Hoo!!!

I’d started working on a very different blog piece…about some things that have been worrying me. I’m concerned about seeing new government websites spring up that seem to duplicate existing sites… (mandated by Congress – which is a whole other problem) sounds very similar to, for example. The new seems to replicate – at least in part – Are people just putting up new websites rather than fixing the old ones? Are we so worried about having clever URLs to promote that we lose sight of the fact that we’re possibly/probably creating yet more duplication?

Then there are the brainstorming “camps” that seem to be springing up everywhere. Don’t get me wrong – I think bringing feds and advocates and experts and citizens together to brainstorm is terrific. Long overdue. But do we really need 3 different workshops that will/should talk about the same problems/issues/solutions? How will the results be synthesized? Who will have the authority and resources to implement anything that comes out of these “camps?”

Well, maybe we have an answer for my concerns. Maybe it’s this new team at the White House.

Now if the Web Managers Council – and, by extension, the Government Web Managers Forum - can just get plugged into this White House team (and I suspect they will!), then maybe – together - they can address those threshold issues and make the changes that are needed to make U.S. government websites the citizen service and engagement centers they should be.

You go, Katie and Macon!

Related posts
What’s missing from e-gov? A mandate to communicate
Are we ready for e-democracy?
We need a communications czar shines the light on a big problem: redundancy

Related link
Putting Citizens First: Transforming Online Government

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