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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

News Briefs

RSS Feed wednesday >

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

What Has the EU Ever Done For Us?: Countering Euroskepticism with Viral Videos and Monty Python

Ahead of the May 25 European Elections, the most intense campaigning may not be by the candidates or the political parties. Instead, some of the most passionate campaigns are more grassroots efforts focused on for a start stirring up the interest of the European electorate. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.

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tuesday >

Ruck.us Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like Democracy.com

Ruck.us launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new Ruck.us is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and Democracy.com. And strangely enough, Ruck.us seems to want its early users to ask Democracy.com for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.

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monday >

The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.

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The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.

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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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