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Initiative Seeks to Reform RFP Process

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, February 25 2014

In Atlanta, one of the "craziest HTML layouts we’ve seen?"

The government procurement process hasn't had the best publicity lately, coming under criticism in the context of the federal and state health care roll-out and also in the context of election reform. A new effort from the Department of Better Technology, the non-profit focused on making available improved government technology, hopes to help lead the way to innovate that process by improving access to government request for proposals data on the state and the local level. Read More

First POST: Busted

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, November 22 2013

Google's Eric Schmidt thinks strong encryption will eventually defeat government censorship and surveillance; Clay Johnson shares a 24-minute video tutorial on why government IT fails and how to fix it; FWD.us founders hack with undocumented immigrants; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Agility

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, October 25 2013

How two Democratic tech gurus would fix HealthCare.gov; how the NSA scandal is threatening US-Europe relations; how a Syrian Kurd living in exile built a mobile tool that alerts subscribers in Syria when a government-fired Scud missile is headed their way; and much, much more. Read More

Sublime to Absurd: The HealthCare.gov Debate, From Procurement Reform to Cats and Jon Stewart

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, October 23 2013

Many commentators in the past few days have criticized the media coverage of Healthcare.gov's launch problems, highlighting what they see as a lack of technical understanding. Meanwhile, the issue has sparked a complex, passionate discussion among some experts on Twitter debating the root of the problems, comparisons with the Obama campaign's Narwhal system, the difference between campaign and government technology, the inherent flaws in the procurement process and how to improve government technology. Three of the key figures in the ongoing Twitter debate, storified below, over the past few days were Clay Johnson, technologist, founder of Blue State Digital and a 2012 Presidential Innovation Fellow, writer and consultant Clay Shirky, and Harper Reed, CTO of Obama's 2012 election campaign. While among them and others the discussion has been a wonky, almost philosophical conversation about the role of technology and government, rooted in their experiences, Rep. Darrell Issa Wednesday opted for a more sensational approach when he decided to cite Johnson's Oct. 7 blog post calling the contractors "sloppy" to create "8 Cats Who Called 1-800-ObamaCare but Still Couldn’t Get Healthcare." Read More

First POST: Surging

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, October 21 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: Will a "tech surge" of the "best and brightest" save HealthCare.gov?: FWD.us holding a hackathon to build engagement tools to help win the immigration reform fight; David Carr's chat with Pierre Omidyar; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Greased

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, October 11 2013

Politifact branching out with Punditfact; why you shouldn't "drunk dial" random Members of Congress; why "greasing" IT contracts led to the HealthCare.gov mess; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Root Causes

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, October 10 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus: Just how far has the Obama administration strayed from its promise to be the most open and transparent in history?; how government procurement practices led to the HealthCare.gov mess; Ari Fleischer's Twitter meltdown; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Hearing

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, September 27 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: What Dianne Feinstein doesn't understand about metadata and surveillance; ActBlue's new one-click fundraising tool; Josh Marshall's college days with Ted Cruz; and much, much more. Read More

White House Innovation Fellows Project Spins Off Into A Business

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, May 15 2013

The White House on Wednesday published the results of RFP-EZ, a pilot project to simplify procurement.

Clay Johnson and Adam Becker joined the Presidential Innovation Fellows program to help the White House fix the way government does business. Now they're turning that mission into a business themselves. Read More

Meet the White House Presidential Innovation Fellows

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, August 23 2012

The White House this morning announced the 18 techies and experts who will spend six months working on one of five projects using technology to try and improve government as part of the White House Presidential Innovation Fellows program. Read More

Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.

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wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

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The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.

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tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.

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Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.

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monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.

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