Obama on technology: ‘We can’t just stand on the sidelines’


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A month after signing an open data executive order, President Barack Obama spoke from the White House reaffirming his pledge to leverage technology to better the government.

The president said he will be calling on the private sector much more to find the most talented people to serve the government and solve pressing challenges.

“And I’m going to be asking more people around the country — more inventors and entrepreneurs and visionaries — to sign up to serve,” Obama said. “We’ve got to have the brightest minds to help solve our biggest challenges.”

Obama spoke this morning with members of his cabinet, including several who had “extraordinary private sector experience,” according to the president. He directed them to develop an aggressive management agenda for a smarter, more innovative and more accountable government for his second term.

The president has placed Sylvia Mathews Burwell, director at the Office of Management and Budget, to lead this initiative. Burwell will be working with several agencies, as well as participants of the most recent round of the Presidential Innovation Fellows program.

“These are Americans with vast private sector technology expertise, who volunteered to come serve their country,” Obama said.

And according to Obama, there are currently several innovative projects in the pipeline now. One of the initiatives deals with tracking the status of federal benefit applications online, and another one includes USA.gov keeping track of users’ information to ease the process of filling out government forms. A third effort is the re-launched healthcare.gov that will allow for users to shop and compare different health care plans to get the best offer starting Oct. 1.

“It makes sense for us to redesign government,” Obama said. “We should all want a government that’s quicker and more responsive to the American people.”

Obama also called on Congress for a reorganization and consolidation of the federal bureaucracy to allow improved government efficiency, and better delivery of government services.

“There’s a lot of rules and legislation that forces folks to engage in bureaucratic hoop jumping, instead of focusing on mission and delivering good services to our citizens,” he said.

The president highlighted three focus areas for the White House: using technology to deliver services to citizens faster and smarter; identifying new ways to reduce waste and save taxpayers’ money; and last, opening up huge amounts of government data to the public. All methods that Obama said will lead to more jobs, innovation and saved cash.

“We’ve got the potential to do so much better than we’re doing right now, but we’re going to need the help of the private sector, the non-for-profits,” Obama said. “Most of all, we want to make sure that we’re empowering some of the folks who are sitting here today to make sure that they can deliver on the kind of 21st-century government the American people want.”

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Agencies, big data, Congress, data analytics, Government IT News, Innovation, Management & Budget, Obama, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), open data, open government, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Tech, White House