I’m very excited about my first post for the Pop!Tech blog. It explores how the new media directives of the Obama administration are translating down through the bureaucracy. It’s still early, but the results so far are disappointing.
“Open gov” advocates and civic hackers have had an exciting few months. The White House has launched a series of bold initiatives aimed at advancing the use of new tech and increasing data sharing – and hired some very smart folks to lead the way. But the federal bureaucracy is enormous, consisting of more than 1.8 million employees across 15 departments. How is this bold, digital agenda filtering down to the folks who will actually have to implement it?
For years the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has been seen by many as more a tool to fulfill political favors than an agency charged with providing and ensuring safe, fair, and affordable housing. Secretary Alphonso Jackson, who led the agency from 2004-2008, was forced to resign amidst a flurry of patronage and conflict-of-interest scandals. He once famously warned a conference of black contractors, “Why should I reward someone who doesn’t like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don’t get the contract. That’s the way I believe.”