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White House Takes Us Behind The Scenes Of 'We The People' Petition Program

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, March 23 2012

The White House on Thursday released an online video to show the public how it incorporates feedback from its online petitioning tool "We The People," into staffers' policy formulating process.

One of the examples it showcased was the White House's recent response to the public outrage online over the Stop Online Piracy Act. The video showed a shot of the "Veto the SOPA bill," petition at the White House, and the subsequent news stories that reported on the Obama Administration's surprise move to oppose the legislation.

The other petition highlighted was animal rights' activists' use of the tool to get the Administration to stop the Army from testing nerve agents on monkeys. The administration heeded that request as well.

Macon Phillips, director of the White House's digital strategy, said in the video that the tool is an important avenue of engagement with the public, even if White House staffers don't always agree with the policy positions and requests of the petitioners.

White House staffers gather once a week to discuss petitions that have crossed the threshold of garnering more than 25,000 signatures needed within 30 days of launch.

Even senior level staff pay attention to these petitions, according to Phillips. The video features White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Nancy Ann DeParle speaking about the process. Jon Carson, director of the White House's office of public engagement, is also featured.

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