The United States House of Representatives has become the latest large government organization to transition their web presence to Drupal, and in a really big way. Currently the House hosts approximately 520 unique websites on a mix of over a dozen proprietary and open source content management platforms, and soon they'll all be powered by Drupal. When the House went looking for a platform to standardize their web presence on, they chose Drupal because it met their requirements to:
- Accommodate hundreds of independent websites, each with different sets of features.
- Provide the ability to deploy new sites quickly and efficiently.
- Enable House Members to use the web designer or developer of their choice by leveraging the Drupal community.
The House worked with a number of Drupal experts for this project, including Acquia, Phase2 Technology and Ingalls Information Security. The team developed, validated, and delivered the Drupal 7 platform that will be used by both individual House Member sites and Committee sites. Here are some examples of recently deployed sites (a complete list can be found at http://house.gov/house/news.shtml): http://sewell.house.gov, http://hanabusa.house.gov/, http://womack.house.gov/.
With the deployment of the House Drupal platform, the Chief Administrative Office (CAO) of the House of Representatives is soliciting Drupal development firms who wish to be vetted for an Approved Vendors List. These approved vendors may then be called on by various Representative offices and Committees (the End Customers). During the next phase of the project, End Customers will look to engage vendors to create custom websites on the House Drupal platform. These vendors can range from small to large firms and may provide services such as visual design, Drupal theming, custom module development, or other related services that the House may need. Each End Customer will have the authority to independently hire approved vendors to develop on top of the House's new Drupal platform.
The CAO will be accepting submissions to qualify vendors on an ongoing basis and is requesting an initial group of submissions by January 28th. If you are interested in being on the qualified vendor list, then please download this document for more information.
The intent of creating the list of qualified vendors is to make it easy for elected officials and other offices within the House to connect with vendors when they are in need of services. With the new House Drupal platform in production, and the freshmen class of the 112th Congress arriving in Washington this past week, there will be plenty of opportunities for qualified vendors.
Tomorrow, I'll be presenting at a Open Government 2010 conference organized by FEDICT and the Flemish E-government team. While I'm only in the pre-conference program (rightly so), the main conference sports some impressive speakers: Herman Van Rompuy (President of the European Council), Neelie Kroes (European Commissioner for Digital Agenda), Vivek Kundra (Chief Information Officer of the United States), etc.
The pre-conference is linked to the “Citadel Statement” a call-to-action for Europe and its Member States. The Citadel Statement identifies five core areas where European and national decision makers can provide tangible support to improve local e-government. Here is a summary:
- Common architecture, shared services and standards: Incorporate EU best practices into a common service delivery architecture (information, process and application-layer) that provides one common language and helps local governments share services and learn from other 'best practices' such as how to work with authentic registrations, how to create personalized access to services, etc.
- Open data, transparency and personal rights: Show a commitment to making public data open and accessible by establishing a well maintained repository of definitions and taxonomies that makes data consistent throughout Europe.
- Citizen participation and involvement: Demonstrate political leadership and courage to improve the democratic process and facilitate citizen participation in decision-making across Europe. Promote the value of co-designing services in conjunction with citizens as a first step in making government more people-focused. Provide guidelines, training and methodologies on involving citizens in decision making and service design.
- Privacy and identification of individuals: Create a robust political and policy framework to address common privacy issues across Europe associated with personal data. Provide protocols that enable the easy identification of individuals over the Internet and facilitate mobility by developing shared standards for the identification of people that makes it easier to travel and do business all over Europe.
- Rural inclusion: Promote the concept of Broadband as a public utility that - like electricity and water - should be available to all communities no matter how small or geographically dispersed. Equality of access is an important precondition for the growth of superfast broadband - an economic necessity in today’s growing marketplace.
While the path to Open Government will be a long, I really hope that Europe will get this right. I'm sure it will be a journey with many challenges, many beyond picking website technology. That said, I do believe this is a great fit for Open Source and an area where Drupal can help make a difference.
Turbinegeneration is a new online community that allows students in schools around the world to contribute, comment and rate each other's artwork. The goal is to invite art students worldwide to make a work of art specifically for Tate Modern, one of the most-visited modern art galleries in the world.
The U.S. government recently launched a new Drupal website, RestoreTheGulf.gov, to provide information about the environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico from the oil spill earlier this year and announced plans to phase out the current disaster response.
I'm excited that the site is running Drupal and that it is hosted at Acquia -- not just because it's pushing adoption of Drupal in the cloud, but primarily because it is very important to restore the Gulf of Mexico. All small contributions help.
The U.S. Department of Education just launched a new micro-site built on Drupal: teach.gov. At teach.gov you can learn what it's like to be a teacher and get the tools you need to launch your own career in education.
The site looks surprisingly crisp and modern for a government site, don't you think?
These kinds of micro-sites make a lot of sense. Visitors that are looking for particular information want instant gratification. It is much better to create a micro-site for this than to embed the same content two levels deep in ed.gov (also a Drupal site). No need to get bogged down with ed.gov's navigation, visual design or mix of target audiences.
While building highly targeted and compelling micro-sites makes a lot of sense, they can be expensive and time-consuming to build and maintain. That is exactly why I think Drupal Gardens will catch on -- it makes building micro-sites fast, cheap and hassle free. We're still boostrapping Drupal Gardens but I really think we're onto something. Why? Because it makes a lot sense. :)