“We want to disrupt the U.S. Government and we want your help,” declared an ever-animated Todd Park, the chief technology officer for the federal government at a New York technology start-up event today.
“We’re looking for some bad-ass innovators to work on some game changing projects,” said Park, walking back and forth on a stage set inside a cavernous building on one of New York City’s Hudson River piers.
CTO Park and federal CIO Steve VanRoekel, speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt, used the event to announce a series of new federal initiatives to promote the smarter use of technology in government and to invite start up firms to consider donating time to help the federal government unlock the value of its vast reservoirs of data. (TechCrunch is a subsidiary of AOL.)
Among those initiatives, announced VanRoekel, is a new government IT roadmap called “Building a Future-Ready Digital Government”. The digital strategy has in been in the works for months, and was formally released earlier Wednesday morning by the White House Office of Management and Budget along with a White House memorandum.
The new digital strategy lays out a framework and a set of action plans over the next 12 months for moving information safely and securely to the right stakeholders while using fewer resources, VanRoekel said.
He highlighted five areas that will now drive the government’s IT priorities internally and with the public at large:
1. Open data will be the new default
2. Anyway, anytime on any device
3/ Everything should be an API
4. Make government data social
5. Change the meaning of social participation.
But Park and VanRoekel also announced five other initiatives to engage the public, with Park saying, “We want the government to embrace the power of (information technology) for the people by the people,”
Those initiatives included:
MyGov – “We want to end the end era of finding hundreds of government websites,” said Park, and create a prototype of a citizen centric system relevant to individuals and that can provide feedback to agencies.
20% campaign – An effort move from making cash payments to contractors overseas to a system of mobile electronic payments, in an effort to sidestep the siphoning of funds as they move through different peoples’ hands.
RFP-EX – An effort to help companies with smart ideas get easier access to government, and for government to “get easier access to the best solutions,” said Park.
Blue Button for America – An effort to build upon the success of the Veterans Administration’s work developing a simplified way for patients to access their health records.
Open data initiatives – An effort to engage technology companies and entrepreneurs in helping the government “liberate data” in the areas of health, education, energy, and personal finance.
As part of that effort, Park and VanRoekel also announced plans to launch a Digital Services Innovation Center that would attempt to consolidate a multitude of independent innovation initiatives taking place across agencies throughout the federal government, and which would engage the private sector in helping those ideas gain traction.
VanRoekel and Park also announced a White House sponsored innovation fellows program. The program is designed to encourage entrepreneurs to work for federal agencies for six month bursts to bring their talents and ideas to help solve a variety of data-related challenges. Details are available at wh.gov/innovationfellows.
Park praised the caliber of talent he has found in federal agencies. “If you can figure out a way to release their mojo, they can do amazing things,” he said.
Van Roekel is expected to describe the new digital government strategy in greater detail at an event being held by the ACT-IAC and AFFIRM on Thursday in Washington.