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New US Digital Service Looks to Avoid IT Catastrophes

BY Alex Howard | Wednesday, August 13 2014

USDS' Mikey Dickerson at the 2009 MySQL Conference (Photo by Jorge Bernal)

At a time when the public's trust in institutions is at historic lows, the federal government's use of technology has an unusual place in the national discourse. After the first Internet president's administration was responsible for the high-profile failure of Healthcare.gov, the issue seemed ripe to drive significant reform on Capitol Hill. Even if some 10 million adults gained health insurance through the Affordable Care Act after "Obama's trauma team" made successful fixes to Healthcare.gov, negative public perception has lingered, and for good reason. Under the radar, other projects have continued to sputter, like a $300 million dollar Social Security government IT boondoggle that still has not delivered a working system for submitting disability claims. The crash of the FCC's dated website under the weight of 1.1 million comments this summer didn't help, either. At the same time, the confidence of the technology community has been damaged by revelations of dragnet surveillance and surreptitious backdoors planted in software. Now, the executive branch has launched two new initiatives aimed squarely at these issues, 18F and the just-announced US Digital Service, Alex Howard reports. Read More

First POST: Jumping

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, August 12 2014

The US Digital Service arrives; what hashtag activism is really good for; unmasking some anti-net-neutrality sock puppets; new voting technology advances; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Unequal Relationships

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, July 11 2014

A rush to legislate new data collection law in the UK is drawing pushback; how the cellphone unlocking movement is a great example of "internet activism"; why journalists should fear Facebook; and much, much more. Read More

At 18F, The U.S. Looks to Fail Fast on Government IT Projects Instead of Failing Big

BY Alex Howard | Thursday, April 3 2014

The state of govt IT today: Long lines in Columbia, SC waiting to sign-up for HealthCare.gov

Can a new small office inside the General Services Administration start to revolutionize how the U.S. government does information technology? That's the premise behind 18F. Longtime open government observer Alex Howard offers this in-depth report. Read More

First POST: Collections

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, January 13 2014

The collection of phone meta-data would not have stopped any terrorist attacks since 9-11, says a New America Foundation study; Christie's aides are hardly the only political hacks using personal email to avoid public records laws; Matthew Burton explains how the CFPB's experience can help other govies make better web products; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Touchy

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, October 24 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers:The NSA scandal is having repercussions now in Germany; How to successfully launched a government website; Why "big government" can't be agile; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Step Right Up

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, September 18 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: A first look at AskThem, a new portal for citizen questions of public officials and figures; an embarrassing data dump for the Indiana GOP; the NSA's spying empire in one handy map; and much, much more. Read More

For CFPB, "Open" Also Means "On GitHub"

BY Nick Judd | Monday, April 9 2012

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has announced that from here on out, if it contracts with a third party to build software, that code will be shared with the public at no charge.

In a blog post on April 6, the CFPB's Matthew Burton announced that the agency will also use open source software and release its own software products as open source. Code that might expose "sensitive deals that would put the Bureau at risk for security breaches" is excluded, but otherwise, Burton points us to CFPB's GitHub repository for a soon-to-be-growing list of code coming out of the nascent federal entity.

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ConsumerFinance.gov, and a New Approach to Regulation, Begin Operations Today

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, July 21 2011

New features on consumerfinance.gov Elizabeth Warren has become something of a hero for political progressives for her work to start the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the new agency responsible for helping ... Read More

'Draft Warren' Campaign Already Raking In the Bucks Online

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, July 19 2011

A Progressive Change Campaign Committee fundraising effort to draft Elizabeth Warren launched yesterday has already raised $40,000. David Catanese reported yesterday that the PCCC had raised $15,000 in only four hours, ... Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

First POST: Patient Zero

Monica Lewinsky emerges with a mission to fight cyber-bullying; Marc Andreessen explains his political philosophy; tech donors to MayDay PAC get pushback from Congressional incumbents; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Front Pagers

How Facebook's trending topics feed is wrecking political news; debating the FBI's need for an encrypted phone "backdoor"; democratizing crisis data; and much, much more. GO

friday >

First POST: Tracking

Questions about whether Whisper is secretly tracking its users' secrets; the FBI's continued push against the new wave of encrypted phones; community service, high-tech-mogul-style; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Hosts

Airbnb in hot water in NYC; Knight Prototype Fund backs some civic tech projects; pondering Google's position on net neutrality; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Africa Calling

How some techies are starting to respond to the Ebola crisis; everything you need to know about GamerGate; how Twitter may upset the 2015 UK elections; and much, much more. GO

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