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Change.gov's Latest: Citizen's Briefing Book

BY Nancy Scola | Monday, January 12 2009

Putting together a policy briefing book for your boss is one of the toughest jobs handed to a political staffer. There's a strong desire to present him or her with the latest and best intelligence on a particular issue area, without making yourself look like a complete idiot in the process. With the new Citizens' Briefing Book, the Obama transition team has gone all "boy, whitewashing this fence is fun!" with the task -- outsourcing the incoming president's briefing book to, well, us.

Here's how it works. With a Change.gov account, you can suggest an idea on any topic, or award or deduct 10 points (Why 10 rather than 1 or 100? Dunno) from existing ideas you favor or disfavor. The top rated ideas, said senior Obama aide Valerie Jarrett in a video introducing the project, will be compiled into a briefing book to be given to Barack Obama once he takes office. Citizens' Briefing Book joins Open for Questions and Join the Discussion in the growing list of ways the Obama transition is attempting to tap into the national zeitgeist. One place it differs from Open for Questions, however, is that it allows for linking to individual ideas, making it easier for activists to rally support for their contributions.

The top idea at the moment? With 710 points, it's "Expand Change.GOV to provide real-time reactions," a bid to make the site even more interactive by allowing instantaneous voting on what the president and his team are up to.