There has been a lot of activity from the Obama Administration this week in the name of innovation and best practices.
There was a double-post on the White House Blog by Federal CTO Todd Park and the Federal CIO Steve VanRoekel about two new initiatives that would seem to be related, but it is not clear how. The first was a prelude to White House’s Plans To Announce Presidential Innovation Fellows and the second was from VanRoekel touting the progress of the Digital Strategy Progress. The latter featured the use of the term “building blocks.”
“It’s been a busy three months, and I look forward to adding more building-blocks in the months ahead as we continue to deliver on the President’s vision of a more modern, efficient, and accessible government for the 21st Century,” VanRoekel said.
To add to the mix, Kshemendra Paul, program manager of the Information Sharing Environment, announced the launch of their Building Blocks tool last week in his blog post, Building Blocks: An Exciting New Resource for Info Sharing Guidance and Best Practices:
“Building Blocks is a knowledge resource tool for sharing insight and best practices in building responsible information sharing. It also showcases stories from our mission partners for real-world examples of success in info sharing.”
When this happens, I always ask: Has this been suggested before and how come they are not coordinated?
The answers are yes, this has been suggested before; and no, they are not coordinated – for the same reason I wrote in An Open Letter To My Former CIO At EPA, Malcolm Jackson recently, in which I contend senior leaders in government too often do not know or ask what has been done before and by whom.
Soon after the Presidential Innovation Fellows announcement, the MyGov Community (an IdeaScale community), was establish that said: Help us reimagine how citizens interact with government – through an experience designed around their needs rather than a confusing and fragmented bureaucracy. It went on to tell viewers:
- You can refer to an earlier IdeaScale discussion where the focus was on generally improving the government’s web footprint. We’re factoring in that feedback and the report it generated, but we want more of your thoughts focused specifically on how government websites can be more personalized and user friendly.
- We’re looking for ideas from everyone: platform developers, citizen hackers, folks in technology, entertainment, design, and everyone in between.
- We encourage you to submit ideas, vote on existing ideas, or add comments.
Sure enough, a post was made from Stephen Buckley that said: Learn from Existing platforms similar to “MyGov” telling viewers:
- “The “MyGov” idea is not completely new, so let’s not reinvent the good parts if they already exist. That means looking at the existing, similar platforms (in govt. and elsewhere) to see what aspects are working and what is lacking.
- For example: There is a platform called “USAjobs.gov” that is operated by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that provides a personalized email-alerts to individuals who want receive new announcements about specific types of federal jobs. This has been around for at least ten years, so what “lessons-learned” can OPM share with us in developing “MyGov”?
Even the five Presidential Innovation Fellows working on Project MyGov: Philip Ashlock, Benjamin J. Balter, Danny Chapman, Kara DeFrias, and Greg Gershman, have a quote of their web site that seem very appropriate:
- “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.”
- If you’ve ever been to the post office, visited a government website, or applied for financial aid and thought, “Why did they do it this way?” or “I wish they’d thought of…” then we want to hear from you!
- For now know, most importantly, we’re citizens just like you who want to reimagine a better way for government and the people to interact. Nice to meet you. Now let’s do this.
The Tweet about all of this that caught my attention and resonated with me most was this:
“This seems like it could be really interesting, what can you actually do if your not a fellow?”
So I say to Federal CTO Todd Park, Federal CIO Steve VanRoekel and Program Manager of the Information Sharing Environment, Kshemendra Paul, lets get coordinated and involve a lot more government employees and citizens in this because it is a much bigger job than five Presidential Innovation Fellows can do in the next six months!