Open Government Camp: Sunlight’s tools for transparency

So this one time, at Transparency Camp

I’m still thinking through all of the things I learned at the Sunlight Foundation’s annual unconference last weekend. My top level takeaway was the large number of international campers solidified that transparency has gone global. At an operational level, I thought that the Sunlight Foundation used the combination of Internet and mobile technology to organize better than any of the previous unconferences I’ve attended. They raised the bar for interactivity with a new mobile app, integrated displays and livestreaming.

Putting the tools together to bring off a big camp is a lot harder than listing them, but by sharing the tools for transparency that the organizers used, Scott Stadum did the open government community a mitzvah. While that mobile app required development time and expertise, the vast majority of these tools are free on the Web.

Here’s a quick rundown of the tools that were used during Transparency Camp 2011:

Great stuff.

Stadum did forget one tool, even as he used it: the Sunlight Foundation’s blog.

From where I sit, a well designed and maintained blog continues to be extremely useful as the hub for organizing, particularly in a Web application ecosystem that supports the kind of diversity in platforms listed above. Sunlight does a great job with that, and in using it as a platform to track news that matter, like open government data.

Thanks again to the organizers, sponsors, hosts and, most of all, the attendees of Transparency Camp, who taught me a lot about open government over the course of two days.

Knight Commission to release recommendations on open government and online hubs

Tomorrow, the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will release two new white papers that focus on implementing the recommendations of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy.

The two new white papers—“Government Transparency: Six Strategies for More Open and Participatory Government” by Jon Gant and Nicol Turner-Lee, and “Creating Local Online Hubs: Three Models for Action” by Adam Thierer, recommend steps that government and community leaders should take to increase government transparency and put more information hubs online.

To Aspen Institute will convene a roundtable of public officials, advocates, and watchdogs from national, state and local levels of government (along with this correspondent) tomorrow morning from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. EST. See the list of attendees below for specific details.

There will be a live webcast of the event. The Knight Commission is encouraging people to participate online at #knightcomm hashtag. According to the event organizers, a livestream will begin at 9:00 a.m. (EST) and will be archived. These white papers will be available to read and download Friday morning. Look for links here when they become available.


Featured Roundtable Speakers

Dr. Jon Gant, Fellow, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, and Associate Professor, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a leading scholar in the field of information systems and public administration.

Dr. Nicol Turner-Lee, Vice President and Director of the Media and Technology Institute for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. She has produced path breaking research on broadband adoption among minority and disadvantaged populations and engages city, state and federal legislators on issues in telecommunications, open government and the emerging technology innovation sectors.

Adam Thierer, Senior Research Fellow, Technology Policy Program, Mercatus Center at George Mason University, having previously served as President of the Progress & Freedom Foundation. His work spans technology, media, and Internet and free speech with a focus in online child safety and digital privacy policy issues.

Roundtable participants include:

Gary Bass, Executive Director, OMB Watch
Ben Berkowitz, Founder, SeeClickFix
John Bracken, Directory of Digital Media, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Jerry Brito, Senior Research Fellow, George Mason University
Kevin Curry, Co-Founder, CityCamp.com
Lucy Dalglish, Executive Director, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Charlie Firestone, Executive Director, Communications and Society Program, Aspen Institute
Feather Houstoun, President, William Penn Foundation
Alexander Howarder, Government 2.0 Washington Correspondent, O’Reilly Media
William Kellibrew, IV, Deputy Director, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
Alex Kreilein, Legislative Assistant, Office of Congresswoman Jane Harman
Ngoan Le, Vice President of Programs, The Chicago Community Trust
Blair Levin, Communications and Society Fellow, Aspen Institute
Philip Neustrom, Founder, Davis Wiki
Steve Pearson, Publisher and Chief Technologist, Project Virginia
Lee Rainie, Director, PEW Internet and American Life Project
Rachel Sterne, Chief Digital Officer, Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment, New York City
Daniel Schuman, Policy Counsel, Sunlight Foundation
Nancy Tate, Executive Director, League of Women Voters
Tracy Viselli, Community Manager, ACTion Alexandria
Marijke Visser, Assistant Director, OITP, American Library Association
Eric Wenger, Policy Counsel, US-Legal-Government Affairs, Microsoft Corporation
Harry Wingo, Senior Policy Counsel, Google, Inc.

Live from the Newseum: Jobs and the Economy of the Future

In February of 2011, the effects of the The Atlantic has released a special report on jobs and the economy. This morning, the report and the prospects for growth will be discussed at a digital town hall on at the Newseum, “Jobs and the Economy of the Future.

Guests include:

  • Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury
  • Julius Genachowski, Chairman, FCC
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch
  • Jon Huntsman, US Ambassador to China
  • Gov. Bob McDonnell, Virginia
  • Brian Deese, Deputy Director, NEC

    The event’s digital component includes a livestream and a new instance of Microsoft’s Town Hall platform for collecting feedback from the online audience. There is also an active backchannel on Twitter aggregated at the #USFutureEconomy hashtag:


    The Atlantic will be liveblogging the event as well.

  • First DC Govup highlights dynamism of millennials in the federal workforce

    Last night, Washington’s first “Govup” saw dozens of government workers come together near Dupont Circle. In the brief video below, Marie Davie, Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Assisted Acquisition Services the General Services Agency praises Steve Ressler, the founder of Govloop, for his work in creating a platform to empower government workers to network and collaborate online.

    “If you’ve got a great idea, and you want to change the world, try it, do it, take that risk” said Mary Davie. “We are a tribe. We’ve got linchpins. We’ve got people that are passionate and really want to make a difference. Thank you for letting us do that.” You can visit Govloop for pictures of the DC Govup.

    Govloop and the next generation of government workers earned some coverage in the Washington Post earlier this month. The social network now has over 30,000 members and continues to grow. That’s only likely to continue, given demographic trends highlighted in the article:

    Almost one in three of the 142,690 federal workers hired last year was 29 or younger, while more than one in four were between 30 and 39, a demographic that’s reshaping the bureaucracy — and creating tension and opportunity along the way. In 10 years, about 400,000 of the 2 million federal workers will be younger than 35, government personnel experts say.

    The pro-government attitude of the millennial generation is also critical to consider in that context, particularly with respect to interest in improving the efficiency of delivering government services.

    Wikis and Open Government at the GSA

    For a more formal look at Davie’s work at the GSA with acquisition and wikis, read about the Better Buy Project and watch her presentation at the Gov 2.0 Expo below. As with so many areas, often real change is quiet, incremental and collaborative.