I’ve been preaching for some time that Government should adopt BusinessCard2. IMHO, it’s just a digital extension of the spirit behind government: one human tasked with best applying public resources to help another human (‘er citizen). Historically, finding the right person in government has been the proverbial needle in a haystack.
I had the opportunity to meet Aneesh Chopra, who is the Chief Technology Officer and Associate Director for Technology in the White House Office of Science & Technology Policty. Besides having one of the longest job titles in the world, Aneesh also has the distinction of being the first nation CTO in the storied history of the United States. During my meeting I found Aneesh to be energetic, passionate, and a visionary.
What Aneesh taught me is that the government understands the challenges of how the government operated from behind a firewall in the recent past. He and the administration saw an “opportunity” to affect positive change by working with the public sector on sharable technology. This initiative is part of a more grandiose government compact rooted in four core principles: 1) Prioritization, 2) Transparency, 3) Engagement, 4) Rapid Results.
The terms “transparency” and “engagement” are what BusinessCard2 is all about, and for that reason I set about to offer up our internet business card technology to government. Within days of meeting Aneesh I submitted a proposal to the http://www.Partner4Solutions.gov website that he told me about. I put the wheels in motion with the GSA to become a government contractor, I reached out to the government Web Content Managers Forum, and even started contacting local governments.
Now here’s my disappointment. I know fully well that government is a big ship, and big ships turn slowly. However, Aneesh Chopra really hyped the administrations intentions to “deliver results in 90 days”. I followed all the protocol and even ventured beyond Aneesh’s instructions, and yet I feel I’m no closer to my mission than when I began. To top matters off the very group who can affect change, the Web Content Managers Forum, denied my request to join the group on the grounds that I’m not a government entity. My experience made me feel like government is like the old boys club and the only way to get in is to be in.
I would not have thought blogging about this a worthwhile endeavor until I read THIS POST today.
Erik Sass, writing The Social Graph department at Media Post, opened his article up with the following:
“Nothing tends to elicit yawns like the words “municipal government,” but on the other hand, as the most local level of inept faceless bureaucracy we deal with in our day-to-day lives, it’s infuriatingly important.”
Well put Mr. Sass, well put.
See, the people who work in government are citizens and taxpayers just like us. However, they should not be subject to any level of anonymity above and beyond what the rest of us are. Government is in the business of public service, so I find it maddening (and frankly ironic) that they continue to hide behind a cloak that taxpayers bought them. Although talking about Transparency and Engagement are a step in the right direction, talk without action is like words in a vacuum: meaningless.
For the sake of disclosure, it is in my best interest to see government adopt BusinessCard2. However, I also want this to happen so I can find and know the people who work for me. As a taxpayer and citizen I don’t feel it’s asking too much to be able to find my State Senator or my City Mayor by running a search on the web. I’m NOT talking about the Office of a Senator or Office of City Mayor, I’m talking about the actual Senator and actual Mayor. All I’m asking for is a simple tool of transparency to engage my government.
There are now a number of government employees and politicians who are using BusinessCard2. We’re proud that they’ve made the personal decision to make themselves discoverable at the individual level. But that’s not enough. BusinessCard2 is simply the best tool for publicly exposing the people behind government and I hope to encourage more than just irregular adoption, but rather a groundswell. To that end I’ve been participating at http://forums.e-democracy.org and I encourage you, If you’re lucky enough to FIND a person in government, to ask them to create a BusinessCard2.
I end with a quote that I feel it fitting of this topic:
“If liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in government to the utmost.” – Aristotle