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Government 2.0? That’s the tagline given the Obama administration’s embrace of internet technologies to promote government transparency. The administration’s website tracking Recovery and Reinvesment ActRecovery.gov – has generated attention and the management consulting firms are catching the spirit (check out the recent posts on the AGA weblog, for example). Is there substance behind the rhetoric? It’s too soon to tell, but as a reform initiative, Government 2.0 is compelling for a couple reasons. Without overstating matters, it seems safe to say internet-enabled communication is transforming our lives in a variety of far-reaching ways, though the long term consequences of course are unknowable. By all accounts, the Obama 2008 campaign succeeded by organizing around a powerful political message enabled new communication technologies. Government 2.0 arguably builds on that momentum.

Moreover, like almost all reform initiatives that actually take hold, the elements of Government 2.0 preceded its brand name. Examples abound, but my favorite is the story of Bush OMB official Robert Shea‘s decision to purchase the platform for USASpending.gov (mandated under the Obama and Coburn sponsored Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 ) from the gadflies at OMB Watch. A truly improbably alliance. But more importantly initiatives like this one have established the groundwork for what the Obama administration is attempting to accomplish with Recovery.gov and it’s broader efforts around Internet-enabled transparency. Again, as a student of these things, I can offer no wisdom about what will come of it, but it certainly is interesting to watch!

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