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Welcome to #GovWebCon: Better Websites, Better Government?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, April 28 2009

I'm attending the Government Web Managers Conference in Washington, DC, today and tomorrow, and I'll be posting periodic updates as the event unfolds. Some 400 web managers from the federal, state and local level are here, a sold-out crowd in fact. Last year, my colleague Andrew Rasiej spoke at the conference and reported being struck by how many attendees viewed Barack Obama as the presidential candidate most likely to open up government use of the web.

It's still a bit early, obviously, in the Obama administration, to make full judgments about whether that expectation is being fulfilled, but over the next two days I hope to be able to report on some of the most interesting developments. This morning's keynote speakers are Vivek Kundra, the federal CIO; Macon Phillips, the director of White House new media; Katie Stanton, director of citizen participation for the new media office; and Bev Godwin, director of online resources & interagency development, White House office of new media (and the person who used to run the Federal web managers council in years past).

Why spend two days with government web managers? (Yes, I have embraced my inner nerd.) Well, I have a theory that at this particular moment in time, due to a confluence of technological, political and social factors, web managers inside government agencies are de facto change agents. They stand at the intersection of public and internal communication, and the tools and practices they are now getting the permission to embrace have inherently disruptive and transformative effects. Hopefully I will find some fresh evidence to support that theory over the next two days.

If you want to follow the conference chatter on Twitter, use the hashtag #govwebcon. The conference organizers have set up a screen near the front of the stage showing incoming tweets, and may even be taking questions from the public through that "twitterfall."