The US Government's Chief Information Officer, Vivek Kundra, called today for a radical new approach to government information technology, focusing on utilization of consumer-type Web 2.0 tools that can "tap into the vast amounts of knowledge...in communities across the country."
"We've got to recognize that we can't treat the American people as subjects but as a co-creator of ideas," Kundra was quoted as saying by Government Computer News writer Wyatt Kash today. "We need to tap into the vast amounts of knowledge...in communities across the country. The federal government doesn't have a monopoly on the best ideas." That's exciting, if it's more than just words.
Kundra made the statements to the American Council of Technology and Industry Advisory Council's Management of Change Conference in Norfolk, Virginia. That's not a gathering of Bay area geek hipsters, but Kundra has a history of bringing new technologies to old institutions.
Can They Do It?
Collaboration is best built on a foundation of trust and transparency, something the technology players in the new administration have had a mixed record on in its first few months in office.
Transparency advocates celebrated the launch in March of a Digg-like social voting site to bring up key issues for the White House to tackle. Last month's unveiling of the new data.gov central repository for public data was less exciting in its execution. The congressional hearing on the confirmation of Kundra's co-worker to be, Chief Technology Officer nominee, Aneesh Chopra, was outright appalling in its failure to address issues of transparency.
Thus, when Kundra says that "we can't treat the American people as subjects but as a co-creator of ideas," we hope that co-creation will be recognized as an active collaboration between equally valid parties - not only as an opportunity to "mine" or "crowdsource" the public for ideas in bulk.
Concerns aside, it is certainly interesting to live at a time when the US Federal Government calls using the kinds of online tools that geeks in their parents' basements came up with, co-creation of ideas with the American people.
Thanks to leading Enterprise 2.0 consultant Dion Hinchcliffe for catching and spreading the word about this news.