Monday, February 09, 2009

Great News, Web Managers…You Have a Place at the Table!

I’ve wanted to write a blog piece about Bev Godwin for a long time. But now, I have a terrific excuse. Bev just announced that she’s gone over to the White House, on a detail, as the Director of Online Resources and Interagency Development on the New Media Team. This is unbelievably good news, not only for my dear and deserving friend, Bev, but also for the government web manager community. Why? Because – finally – you have one of your own sitting at the policy table.

I met Bev about 13 years ago when she was chairing an interagency group tasked to create a website that would help state and local governments work with the federal government. Bev was on the Vice President’s Reinventing Government task force at that time, and this was one of the first efforts to develop an interagency website. As you can imagine – there were a lot of opinions and a good deal of stumbling. But finally, we got the job done, thanks to Bev’s leadership abilities and political finesse. When Bev got the assignment to create (thankfully renamed “”) as THE federal government’s online “front door,” I knew she’d do a terrific job and that agency web managers could count on her to include them in the process. That’s just the way Bev works.

In late 2003, Bev called to ask me to work with her on a new assignment: recommending policies to OMB for implementing the E-Gov Act of 2002, Section 207. Well, you know how that turned out (and if you don’t, just take a look at the report). Once again, Bev used her leadership skills, her political acumen and her plain ol’ smarts to guide an effort that resulted in creation of interagency web governance (the federal Web Managers Council), the first training institution for government web managers (Web Manager University), and the first website targeting government web managers ( Powerful achievements.

And now our Bev is at the White House, working with Macon Phillips and others to lead change in the way government serves citizens via the web.

It’s fun to watch the organizational and personnel decisions the Obama administration is making and to imagine how they’ll impact government web management. In addition to the New Media Team at the White House, we anticipate the new E-Gov Director at OMB (TechPresident and others are speculating that DC CTO Vivek Kundra will be named to that job. Vivek has been a superstar in using technology to inform citizens in DC, so this surely would be good news). And though I’m still not exactly sure what the Chief Performance Officer will tackle, an office that’s looking at improving efficiency and effectiveness in government surely will want to extend those efficiencies through web applications and content (maybe an advocate for “top tasks?”). So that’s three high-level operations that could – and probably will - play a part in setting the agenda for government web management in the next few years. It will take good coordination to head off the “too many bosses” syndrome.

But now you’ve got one of your own at the policy table, web managers. Bev knows the web manager community and its challenges; and she will be in a position to raise those issues when it counts – as decisions are being made. And if I know Bev, she’ll make sure that your ideas and concerns are considered in the discussion phase, rather than after the fact. You couldn’t have a better, more savvy and more capable advocate. This is great news.

Congrats, Bev! We’re all cheering for you!

Related link
Defining Key Roles, Reducing Confusion

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Start With the Problem - Not the Solution

I was quite taken with a recent interview with Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google, about what the new Chief Technology Officer might be asked to do. Instead of just being a super CIO, Cerf sees the CTO as a strategist, offering technology solutions to the range of government problems and challenges that the President has defined. It’s not technology for the sake of technology. It’s not solutions in search of problems. Just start with understanding the most critical management problems – the priorities - and then look at possible solutions, which probably will include technology in concert with other actions.

I’m a Facebook junky, a Twitter lurker, and – after all – I’m writing this for my blog. It’s very tempting to start looking around for management problems to solve with all the cool new things we can do with technology. But Vint Cerf has it right. We’ve got to keep the horse in front of the cart. Be strategic. Start with the management priorities. Then figure out the best solutions.

Related link
Ondotgov – Gwynne Kostin’s blog (Gwynne gets it! Read her purpose statement)