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Boehner Participates in the White House's Open Government Forum

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, May 22 2009

Among the very first Americans to take advantage of the White House's new call for participation under the Open Government Initiative goes by the handle republicanleaderjohnboehner. And yes, that's the House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio.

Boehner's suggestion of a 72-hour review period on major spending bills coming before Congress is, with 304 votes, the highest-rated idea on the IdeaScale site being hosted by the National Academy of Public Administration.

One problem: Boehner's call has to do with the operation of Congress -- not something that the President, however powerful, has much control over. Groups like the Sunlight Foundation have also advocated for a three-day period in which members of Congress and the public can review pending legislation. (The Leader's office confirms that while the bill doesn't specifically refer to the online posting of legislation, it's implied.) Boehner's Director of New Media Nick Schaper tells us why the congressman chose to participate in the White House forum:

The "open government dialogue" appears to be a great forum for Leader Boehner, and all Americans, to work together in developing solutions that can make a real difference. Collaborative tools like this will help level the playing field so that good ideas, regardless of their author, rise to the top.

Since its launch yesterday at about 1:30pm ET, the Open Government Initiative's first stage has collected about 100 ideas. Some are rather intriguing, like one from a former intern in the House of Representatives who was amazed by the number of petitions that flood congressional offices. Why, s/he asks, not have an online hub like the U.K.'s Petitions. Number10.gov.uk that would gather together citizen advocacy in one centralized place? Again, though, the suggestion raises the question of whether the White House's appeal for open government ideas is unfocused, since a congressional petition hub would be a matter for Congress -- and not the president -- to take up.

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