President Barack Obama addresses a Joint Session of Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 8, 2011. Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner are seated behind the President. (Credit: Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
by Alan W. Silberberg
Politics seems to be in everything now whether it is your home loan or your school loan. It’s even involved in your reproductive rights or your right to bear arms. But, believe it or not, we’re now in Gov 2.0 or e-government or Open Government (whatever you like to call it), and transparency in government is key. Even though we’re inserting technology like social media, mobile apps and ubiquitous internet access, the result is politics as usual.
President Barack Obama is credited widely with being the first president to push Open Government through such initiatives as the Open Government Directive and the resulting creation of Data.Gov.
This became fodder for attack by the Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives. It was easy to take a whack at the e-gov fund. Cutting funding from the President’s E-Gov fund basically did two things:
1. It made the Republicans look tough on the budget.
2. By targeting a key initiative of the President, the GOP announced they are playing a hard game of chess.
But, what appears to be a big budget cut and a victory for Republicans in trying to balance the budget isn’t quite that. In a recent meeting with United States Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, I had the opportunity to informally ask him about the meanings of these cutbacks. His take was that the funding for Gov 2.0 projects was a minimal amount of money coming out of a small fund. He went on to point out that Gov 2.0 programs had already been hard wired into the accounts of various agencies of government, meaning that the initiatives like “shifting to the cloud,” increased attention to cyber security and citizen engagement models were being already being paid for out of accounts that have nothing to do with an additional E-Gov fund that takes money out of our already dwindling budget.
In the most basic terms, this is a pure example of political theater and how those shouting about the budget in the media can manipulate opinion. Here is a look at the outcry about the House shutting down the E-Gov fund.
Both sides used the E-Gov fund as a political club to fight over a “budget” that was not even part of our main monetary concern. Technology is just the latest target of politicized theater coming out of the Republicans and Democrats. Both parties are failing the people they were elected to lead in regards to this budget mess. We elected people to do a job. Instead we get kindergarten antics.
Alan is the CEO of Silberberg Innovations and founder of Gov20LA and a Principal Analyst with Constellation Research Group. He blogs once a week for What’s Trending about politics online. Learn more about him here.