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On his very first day in office, President Obama directed all federal agencies to break down barriers to transparency, participation, and collaboration between the federal government and the people it is to serve. Last week, the Obama administration published the Open Government Directive (OGD). The directive, sent to the head of every US federal department and agency, instructs the agencies to take specific actions to open their operations to the public. The three principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration are at the heart of this directive. It could be big for Drupal, and Open Source.
The directive imposes concrete milestones and specific requirements on the federal agencies. In 120 days, each agency needs to publish a detailed Open Government Plan of their own; within 45 days each federal agency must publish at least three new high-value data sets and register those data sets via Data.gov; and within 60 days, each department must set up a page or website at agency.gov/open. The /open-website needs to outline how the agency is going to open its data, but also tools with which the public can comment on it.
Personally, I think /open makes for a brilliant convention -- I hope it will be adopted by governments and organizations all around the world.
While the path to an open government will be a long journey with many challenges beyond just picking a website technology, this could be a great opportunity for Drupal. Within 60 days, every federal agency will need to have an interactive website setup at agency.gov/open. Drupal has all the features required to implement agency.gov/open (e.g. commenting, blogging, forums, aggregation, data mashups, micro-blogging, voting, etc). Drupal is perfect to get these /open-websites up and running quickly, and makes for a great foundation to extend its functionality in the future. Plus, by using an Open Source technology, agencies can share and collaborate on both best practices and code. It is a no-brainer.
At Acquia, we'll continue to build out our government offerings and ecosystem. Although we will be announcing the full set of details of our government offering in January, highlights will include a "starter kit" for government agencies to quickly achieve their /open requirement. In addition, we have already launched a webinar series -- we kicked it off last week with a webinar that included Andrew Hoppin (CIO of the New York State Senate) and how they are using Drupal to achieve their OGD requirements. In January 2010, we will be launching our first webinar with the General Services Administration, and we will be presenting at the OGD workshop that the Department of Transportation is organizing.
The Acquia partner ecosystem will also play a key part in our efforts, from our system integration partners who will help deliver the strategy and implementation, to our technology partners, such as Alfresco, who can deliver critical components related to the OGD such as document and records management.
And while agencies hash things out, Vivek Kundra (US Chief Information Officer) and Aneesh Chopra (US Chief Technology Officer) committed that within 60 days, they will create an Open Government Dashboard on http://www.whitehouse.gov/open. (Remind that Whitehouse.gov is a Drupal site.) This dashboard will publish each agency’s Open Government Plan, together with aggregate statistics and visualizations to track the agencies' progress toward meeting the deadlines for action outlined in the OGD.
The British Government is using Drupal on an innovation initiative to encourage developers and designers share new ideas and showcase their work: see http://innovate.direct.gov.uk. Directgov’s main site, http://www.direct.gov.uk is the official government website for citizens. It provides information and services from across government organizations.
Big, exciting news! The flag ship website of the U.S. government, Whitehouse.gov, just relaunched on Drupal. This is a big day for Drupal, and for Open Source in government, and something all of us in the community should be very proud of.
First of all, I think Drupal is a perfect match for President Barack Obama's push for an open and transparent government -- Drupal provides a great mix of traditional web content management features and social features that enable open communication and participation. This combination is what we refer to as social publishing and is why so many people use Drupal. Furthermore, I think Drupal is a great fit in terms of President Barack Obama's desire to reduce cost and to act quickly. Drupal's flexibility and modularity enables organizations to build sites quickly at lower cost than most other systems. In other words, Drupal is a great match for the U.S. government.
Second, this is a clear sign that governments realize that Open Source does not pose additional risks compared to proprietary software, and furthermore, that by moving away from proprietary software, they are not being locked into a particular technology, and that they can benefit from the innovation that is the result of thousands of developers collaborating on Drupal. It takes time to understand these things and to bring this change, so I congratulate the Obama administration for taking such an important leadership role in considering Open Source solutions.
Being one of the world's largest consumers of computer software, the U.S. government is not new to Drupal. Several agencies, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Education, and the General Service Administration have been using Drupal, for example. Drupal adoption is growing rapidly within the U.S. government. However, Whitehouse.gov switching to Drupal goes above and beyond any other Drupal installation within the U.S. government, and is a fantastic testament for Drupal and Open Source. It will raise awareness about Drupal across the U.S. government, and across all governments world-wide.
Personally, I'm thrilled by the idea that Drupal can help governments provide greater transparency, higher velocity, and more flexibility.
Disclosure: my company Acquia was involved in the development of Whitehouse.gov in partnership with General Dynamics Information Technology, Phase2 Technology, Akamai, and Terremark Federal Group. Additional details can be found in this TechPresident post (PDF version).
Vivek Kundra, the CIO of the United States, unveiled the new IT spending dashboards at usaspending.gov earlier this week. Tim O'Reilly has all the details in his blog post titled Radical transparency: the new federal IT dashboard. In short, the dashboards are designed to help CIOs of individual government agencies get a handle on the effectiveness of government IT spending. The site was built with Drupal.
This is a fundamental change in the way government is going to be run, and it is great to see Drupal play a small role in that. Great stuff!