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Reviewing Last Week’s National Dialogue on Recovery IT

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The following is an excerpt from what's been going on inside the head of Greg Elin, the retiring Chief Evangelist for the Sunlight Foundation, as he contemplates the Recovery's Board week-long virtual brainstorming event TheNationalDialogue.org which concluded Sunday. Moderator: The Recovery Board has launched a web site for what it bills as a National Dialogue on Recovery IT hosted by the National Academy of Public Administration. The virtual event began on Monday, April 27 and ended Sunday, May 3. To discuss how the event went are my two guests who have been following Recovery.gov. My first guest is happy "Greg :-)" who believes the Web changes everything and end-users made the conversation fruitful. Presenting a different view is grumpy "Greg :-(" who knows a bureaucracy when he sees one and wonders how this was a dialogue if no Recovery Board IT people participated. Greg :-) I'm happy to be here. Greg :-( (Hmpf) Thank you for having me.

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Looking to Help “The Man”, Turning in My Chief Evangelist Badge

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“What we’ve learned from the Open House Project,” said Sunlight’s Greg Elin, “is that whenever we sit outside and build things, we learn that there are people inside who want to do the same thing.”

That's me, quoted in Matthew Burton's 2008 essay, Why I Help "The Man", and Why You Should, Too. I've been thinking a lot about that quote and Burton's argument. I've been thinking I might like to be one of those people, "inside", taking advantage of the good stuff happening "outside". That's why I'm blogging my decision to resign as Chief Evangelist and conclude three years of consultancy with the wonderfully productive Sunlight Foundation in order to explore ways to more directly help the government build great web sites and embrace Government 2.0.

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Looking to Help “The Man”, Turning in My Chief Evangelist Badge

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“What we’ve learned from the Open House Project,” said Sunlight’s Greg Elin, “is that whenever we sit outside and build things, we learn that there are people inside who want to do the same thing.” That's me, quoted in Matthew Burton's 2008 essay, Why I Help "The Man", and Why You Should, Too. I've been thinking a lot about that quote and Burton's argument. I've been thinking I might like to be one of those people, "inside", taking advantage of the good stuff happening "outside". That's why I'm blogging my decision to resign as Chief Evangelist and conclude three years of consultancy with the wonderfully productive Sunlight Foundation in order to explore ways to more directly help the government build great web sites and embrace Government 2.0.

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OpenSecrets.org Opens 20 Years Worth of Campaign Finance Data

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In big news on the government data and transparency front, the premier provider of federal campaign finance information, Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), have announced they are opening for bulk download 20 years worth of data used to power their web site OpenSecrets.org. More than 200 million records are being made available of itemized contributions, campaign spending, lobbying, personal finance, and sponsored travel. CRP began tracking campaign contributions in the late 1980s. Their stats and staff are trusted and quoted by the Media as the gold standard reference. The opening of the OpenSecrets.org underlying archive of bulk, standardized and industry-coded data is a seminal event for transparency and Web 2.0 political data.

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The Rise of Recovery.gov and the Virtuous Cycle of Transparency Innovation

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In the short 30 days since the President signed the Recovery Act (aka Stimulus Bill) into law and Recovery.gov launched:

  • 26 of 28 federal agencies currently handling stimulus dollars have launched websites at identical "/recovery" URLs (example: http://hhs.gov/recovery)
  • 83 identically formatted .xls weekly reports were filed by agencies and are downloadable by reporting agency (generally 3 per agency)
  • 42 states have launched their own recovery-related web sites with several adopting the "/recovery" meme (for example: http://www.maine.gov/recovery)
  • 3,900 hits-per-second loads have been reported for Recovery.gov
These early stats suggest our federal government is headed for the Web 2.0 big leagues in tracking stimulus dollars. Even better, they suggest everyone else is fielding franchise teams and swinging for the fences. No doubt we are going to see a number of strike outs as different federal, state, and local authorities learn to communicate and play together using web-based protocols and practices. But we are also going to see some exciting home runs and grand slams, too.

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usgovxml.gov – Directory of Government XML

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Alex Madrigal (who put together Wired's wiki on government data) pointed me to usgovxml.com's wonderful gem of a reference of XML resources in the Federal government. Might hide some great ideas and data for use in Apps for America entries. "This site is an attempt to document, in one place and in a uniform manner, the web services and XML data sources that are provided by the US government."

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Weekly Lab Report 2009.06

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The Labs is preparing for a sold out TransparencyCamp (Feb 28, Mar 1). Meanwhile, interesting tidbits continue. Here's what happened this past week at Sunlight Labs...




48 Hour Open Govt Hack-a-thon Announced. Labs Developer James Turk is attending PyCon in Chicago at end of March (Mar 29 - 31) where Sunlight Labs will be hosting a 48 hour Hackathon. Great chance for developers to talk to people at the Labs.

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Weekly Lab Report 2009.04

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More evidence of The Sunlight Foundation's pursuing its catalyst mission—using the power of the Internet to catalyze greater government openness and transparency—at the Sunlight Labs. Catalysts initiate reactions that precipitate the desired solution. Here's what happened this past week at Sunlight Labs...


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