Web-savvy politicos: Obama's vision for e-government will take work

Challenges seen for effort to adapt campaign's use of the Web for government applications

President-elect Barack Obama successfully used Web 2.0 tools to solicit donations and feedback from his supporters during the campaign. But it's still unclear how well those methods will translate into electronic government initiatives, according to speakers at a seminar in Washington on technology and participatory government.

In addition to a robust online fundraising effort, the Obama campaign used blogs to communicate with potential voters and solicit their comments, posted hundreds of videos on YouTube and sent thousands of e-mail and text messages to supporters. Many of those efforts are ongoing, as Obama's transition team is still posting videos and using his Change.gov site to share information and organize meetings of supporters, said Sam Graham-Felsen, a member of the Obama campaign's Web site staff.

Obama will continue to seek an online dialogue with the U.S. public after he becomes president, Graham-Felsen added, although he didn't offer many details about how that will happen.

But Obama will face several challenges in attempting to adapt his use of participatory technology for e-government purposes, said other speakers at today's event, which was hosted by Google Inc.

For example, many federal agencies still resist the idea of putting the information they control online, or else they don't have the resources required to do so, said Meredith Fuchs, general counsel for the National Security Archive, an independent library at George Washington University.

And after Graham-Felsen talked of doing live online broadcasts of entire Obama campaign events, including questions from the audience, Fuchs suggested that much more could be done from an e-government standpoint, such as posting more in-depth evaluations and the budget details of government programs. "It's not enough to put an event on the Web," she said. "You've got to go farther. Accountability is part of it."

One audience member questioned whether politicians are using the Web as "just another communications medium." Not so, said Graham-Felsen and congressional staffers representing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who all noted that their bosses are pushing for more participatory uses of the Web and for government agencies to put more information online.

As an example, Obama and Coburn worked together to push through legislation requiring the launch of USAspending.gov, a Web site that provides information about federal contracts. Chris Barkley, a Coburn aide, said the senator is optimistic that more and more information will be added to the site, especially with the support of Obama after he becomes president.

1 2 Page 1
Page 1 of 2
7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon