01/22/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Federal Webmasters Onboard for Online Government

or, "Another step toward nerd rule"...?

Looks like the folks who run Federal Web sites got the idea of more effective and honest government years ago, but didn't get heard 'til recently. The deal is that as a community, we're ready to seriously move ahead towards networked, grassroots democracy. That means increasing involvement from the citizenry and public servants, probably in many public/private partnerships.

Micah Sifry of just published a letter from them at Putting Citizens First: Transforming Online Govt White Paper. The bottom line:

President-elect Obama should be able to promise the American people that when they need government information and services online, they will be able to:
  • Easily find relevant, accurate, and up-to-date information;
  • Understand information the first time they read it;
  • Complete common tasks efficiently;
  • Get the same answer whether they use the web, phone, email, live chat, read a brochure, or visit in-person;
  • Provide feedback and ideas and hear what the government will do with them;
  • Access critical information if they have a disability or aren't proficient in English.

Tom Watson points out:

The new Administration should "need to build on the groundswell of citizen participation in the presidential campaign and make people's everyday interactions with their government easier and more transparent," says the paper.


Running this gargantuan online network means empowering a vast cadre of managers to do their work - it means giving them the power to make decisions about email and social media, for example.