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White House Open Gov Initiative Launches Final Phase


The Open Government Team, in the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House has announce the opening of Phase 3 to accept draft recommendations.  The final phase of the initiative was launched yesterday and runs through this Sunday, June 28.  Phase 1, Brainstorming, encouraged the sharing of idea recommendations on how to make government more open. Citizens could vote on proposed ideas or their own.  The next phase, Discussion,  encouraged participants to dig deeper on the ideas and challenges identified during the Brainstorm phase.  The goal of Phase 3, Draft, is to encourage collaboration on crafting constructive proposals to address challenges from the Discussion phase.  This is your chance to participate in drafting policies that will promote greater transparency, participation, and collaboration across government.   Federal employees as well as the general public are highly encouraged to participate in this final phase.  An informational teleconference will be held today, June 23rd,  at noon eastern to explain more about the drafting phase.

Call-in #: (800) 553-0272
Call Name: "Open Government Call"

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Dear All,

Today the Drafting Phase (Phase III) of the Open Government public consultation process begins at www.whitehouse.gov/open (click on Participate). This Drafting Phase invites you to collaborate on creating recommendations for open government policy using a web-based wiki tool. You are invited to a teleconference on Tuesday, June 23rd at noon eastern to learn more about the Drafting Phase and how it will work.

The first phase invited you to brainstorm topics for the Open Government recommendations and the second phase explored those topics in greater depth through on-line discussion. This third phase is intended to translate good ideas into specific, concrete, actionable policy. We are asking you to craft recommendations on each of the topics you identified as being of greatest importance.

The Drafting Phase begins today and runs through Sunday June 28th (at midnight). We suggest that you review the submissions from the earlier phases of this process, such as the Discussion blog, the public brainstorm, the government employee brainstorm, and From the Inbox. Incorporating earlier input, you can write your own draft recommendations, or combine and edit those of others to create a new recommendations. You can then vote on the best draft under each topic through June 30th.

We encourage you to contribute early, so other participants can build on your proposed text. Complete directions and a video tour are available on the wiki website.

Also – don’t forget to add any final comments to the weblog, where new postings on collaboration have recently gone up.

  • Collaborative Problem Solving and Alternative Dispute Resolution (Coming soon!)

Many thanks in advance for sharing your time and thoughts with us.  Your participation is critical to this effort’s success.

The Open Government Team

www.whitehouse.gov/open

For questions, please contact Robynn Sturm at:  Robynn_K._Sturm@ostp.eop.gov

USA.gov Adds Three New Web 2.0 Tools to Government's Arsenal


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With a long history of providing electronic access to government information through the Web, USA.gov is delivering on a commitment to use Web 2.0 tools to keep access to official government information on the cutting edge.

GSA announced the availability of three new Web 2.0 tools to better serve the public:
• a government-wide news feed service;
• a gadget gallery of online applications; and
• a word cloud depicting the most popular government online content.

USA.gov, managed by GSA’s Office of Citizen Services, implemented these interactive tools to improve on what has already been declared the most effective federal web site in 2007 and 2008 by the Brookings Institution.

“Using these Web 2.0 tools is a huge opportunity for government to be transparent and save valuable tax dollars, said Beverly Godwin, Director of USA.gov and Web Best Practices.  “Tools such as RSS feeds and gadgets allow the public to directly access content from the original source, no matter which website they’re on.  It reduces duplication across government because an agency creates content once and makes it available for reuse by others.”

The first and most robust tool is the Government News Aggregator, which allows citizens to receive consolidated news and information from across the federal government, delivered via RSS feeds or really simple syndication.  The service (http://news.usa.gov/) lets anyone subscribe to news feeds on USA.gov, and receive fast-breaking news updates in industry standard feed readers. With this tool, the public no longer has to scour a vast array of government websites to follow news that’s relevant to them.  Visitors who don’t use RSS can also bookmark the Breaking Government News page in their web browser.

Citizens can subscribe to news feeds on virtually every topic: agriculture, business, economics, consumer news and recalls, defense, foreign affairs, education, jobs, general government and reference, environment, energy, family, home and community, health and nutrition, public safety and law, science, and technology. To provide the service USA.gov is partnering with NewsGator and using a leading enterprise RSS software tool, behind some of the world’s most popular RSS readers for Windows, Web and the Mac.

Behind the scenes, USA.gov content managers select the best government news articles for distribution. This human element ensures that only the most relevant content is being delivered through the feeds, which ultimately means a better experience for the public.

The second tool is a Government Gadget Gallery with a collection of gadgets or widgets organized by topic and created by subject matter experts across government. The government gadgets or widgets are online tools developed by one agency and shared. Anyone can embed these gadgets in personalized home pages, blogs, and other sites. Examples of gadgets include the drug finder hosted by the Food and Drug Administration which will allow you to search a medication by name and get specific information, the environmental tip of the day or the FBI’s predators and missing persons. Once added, the gadget requires no technical maintenance for the user because the original information source will update the content.

The third tool is a USA.gov Word Cloud that is a visual representation of the top 75 most popular search terms on USA.gov, with the most frequently used words given greater prominence or larger font. The word cloud was an idea inspired by change.gov. This graphic depiction allows a person to see at a glance which key words are searched the most according to site traffic.

Launching these initiatives is part of a larger effort of GSA’s Office of Citizen Services to provide leadership to the government web manager community.  These efforts include sponsoring the Federal Web Managers Council; supporting the Web Managers Forum, a grassroots community of 1,500 federal, state, and local web managers across the country; managing Web Manager University; and sharing web best practices via WebContent.gov.

GSA is changing the relationship citizens have with their government by making official government information accessible to the public through multiple channels, including, telephone, email, television, radio, traditional web content, print publications and now Web 2.0.

Health and Safety Widgets From The CDC


The Center for Disease Control is, in my opinion, one of the leading government agencies making use of web 2.0 tools and services.  They are actively working to provides citizens reliable, up-to-date information on health and safety concerns like the peanut butter recall and flu activity.  As part of their social media efforts, the CDC has available a number of widgets to add to your blog or home page.  Currently, 10 widgets are available for both healthcdcwidgets consumers and providers.  The newest widgets include the Flu Updates, Emergency Text Messages and the CDC Data and Statistics Widget.  Adding one of these widgets to your site is as easy as copy/paste or, if you’re an iGoogle user, you can simply click on the ‘Add to Google’ button next to each widget.

You can view all of the available widgets here and the full range of the CDC’s social media efforts here.