Category Archives: Government Information

Modernizing Govt ain’t so simple

Great read about the bumps that the Obama team have encountered to replicate the communiation apparatus used during the campaign in the White House.

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One Word – Information

That’s right.  Information is the “plastic” of this century.  Those that have information, control information, understand information and distribute information will be the masters of the 21st century economy.  An examination of the policy debates in Congress concerning intellectual property, the policy discussions at the FCC concerning spectrum and who controls it, the debate over electronic health records, and the debate over who controls information relating to your identity, credit, and personal history point to the conclusion that information, and all the goods derived from information (knowledge, innovation, wealth, etc), is the key to economic success.

Today, for instance, NYT carries a story about Google and Microsoft investing in health information companies.  A local Fox news station carries a story how a local city tried to ban cameras and recorders from capturing information discussed at meetings.  The federal government is trying to quash a lawsuit alleging the government has illegally siphoned emails from the 4th largest Internet hub located in San Francisco.  The government won’t divulge any information about the activity as it is a ‘state secret’.

There is a good essay or two here.  We’ll re-visit this topic when time permits a more thoughtful repose.

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Filed under Economies, Government Information

Just a thought

We (the royal universal population of netizens) use the web to share photos, videos, audio (music and speech), data, thoughts and many, many private data points.

Why can’t our government (and it is ours — in fact, we are the government – last I checked) do the same?

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More information please

Jason DeParle of the NYT writes about a movement promoting greater access to US spending data. 

“Sunshine’s the best thing we’ve got to control waste, fraud and abuse,” he said. “It’s also the best thing we’ve got to control stupidity. It’ll be a force for the government we need.”  Senator Tom Coburn, OK

Coburn is right.  Of course, people will need to pay attention.  And, not only must the data be accessible, it must be comprehensible.  But, the cyber community can do the translating — if the data is allowed to breathe.

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Arguing in the public square

Robert Scoble, noted Microsoft blogger, is leaving for a new job.  While at Microsoft, he pushed the traditional envelope by publicly discussing and sometimes dismissing company strategies and actions using his blog.

When asked how he was able to "get away" with public criticizing his company, Scoble replied:

Chairman Bill Gates "loves arguing out ideas."

"He knows that an idea can change the world. How are you going to get the best ideas from 60,000 people? Let an idea get out in the public square, and let people talk about it," Scoble said in a telephone interview Sunday from San Francisco, where he and PodTech executives were planning to attend a video blogging conference.

So, why don't we encourage public employees to do the same?  Afterall, Madison noted :

"Nothing could be more irrational than to give the people power and to withhold from them information, without which power is abused. A people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives. A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both."
—James Madison

So, tell me.  Why not?  Do the latest rulings on whistleblower protections, and  the limits thereof throw cold water on Madison's statement?  Why is it harder to get information today, with all of the technology enabling distribution of same available to anyone who can walk into a public library?  If self-reliance is truly the bedrock of a conservative Republic, then is not the fundamental purpose of that Republic to be focused on providing the public the very informationt they need to govern themselves?

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Information, and access to it, Fundamentals for 21st Century Economic Development

That's what Bernanke says – (original source is today's WSJ — subscription required)

"Good data support community growth and development by helping to identify previously unrecognized market opportunities," Mr. Bernanke said. "Free markets can be a powerful source of economic development, but markets work less effectively when information about potential opportunities is absent or costly for private actors to obtain."

The WSJ is kind enough to provide the link to Mr. Bernanke's remarks found at the Federal Reserve site. 

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Filed under Economies, Government, Government Information, Uncategorized

Self, Responsibility and Open Government

If you are going to make sound decisions regarding your welfare, you need access to information.  So, why does a government that supports increasing self-responsibility on decisions such as education, health and welfare insist on hiding the good data on issues like “offshoring“?

The summary report, titled “Six-Month Assessment of Workforce Globalization in Certain Knowledge-Based Industries,? may contain useful information, believes Ron Hira, an assistant professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, It is “the first and only government study? that could look at all private sector and government data in assembling its research, said Hira.

“I think it’s odd that they would try to cover up the study,? said Hira. “You would think that if we paid for this study we could at least see it.?

Commerce Department officials were not immediately available to comment.

You may find a copy of the 12 page summary at the site for Manufacturing and Technology News which provides a more detailed report (filed in September of 2005) than the Computerworld blub above.  Oh, and here is the 42 slide power point presentation the Technology Administration Analysists composed.

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Ignorance is no defense

We have heard the phrase often that “ignorance of the law” is no defense.  But, at what point, ethically, morally and legally, is government obligated to inform you of the law.  How much effort should government expend to insure that you the consumer, parent, business owner, student, etc, understand the implications of new legislation and how your life is governed by statute, rule or regulation?

Here is a list of bills that can affect you positively, or negatively, without any mechanism, resources or funds to explain those affects to you:

  • SB 596 – Umbilical Cord Blood Bank
  • SB 425 – UnSpam Bill
  • SB 594 –
  • SB 534 – Adult Advertising in Emails
  • SB 394
  • SB 535 – Title Pawn


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Access and Accuracy

Article in Atlanta Journal Constitution notes that Fulton County does not warranty the information presented on its web site:

 “Fulton County makes no representations or warranties as to the suitability of this information . . . and that to the extent you use or implement this information . . . you do so at your own risk.”

So much for ease of access.  If it isn’t accurate, it isn’t accessible.

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Cognitive Dissonance and Government Data

Two headlines suggest a disconnect between the inflation report and real data on gasoline prices

The former reflects a report on data from February while the latter reflects data as of this week. Nonetheless, all the public hears is “prices down” while at the pump the prices are jumping by the hour. No wonder the public tunes out the news.

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