Transparency: new but is it improved?

Tuesday - 5/19/2009, 11:33am EDT

Thom Rubel

When it comes to using social media, an expert says that just because you can, doesn't necessarily mean you should.

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

The idea of an open and transparent government has been a core principle of the Obama Administration, but there is a downside to openness and the use of social media tools.

Thom Rubel, practice director for Government Insights at IDC, tells FederalNewsRadio the first challenge is "getting the right information ready and available to people so that it's actually useful."

Rubel says compounding the problem is a sense of urgency underlying the efforts. "There's been this rush to the openness and a rush to get the information in the hands of the people who can use it... and making the information useful is no small deal."

The second challenge, Rubel tells the Federal Drive, is keeping the balls in the air and the eyes on the prize. "All of the government agencies and organizations that need to feed into this are really going to be challenged to get programs out, get the money out, do all the work they've got in front of them and be paying attention to this at the same time."

While all this is going on, Rubel says that the public's expectations about what's possible have been raised because of social media, but "you can only just sort of feed your opinions into something for so long and if you don't see change, you begin to become a little disgruntled and I don't think that's the intent here at all."

There's so much money involved here that there's a very high expectation on the part of the public that there will be results, and the administration has basically committed itself to that. So I think translating all of that information into results and showing where the results are occuring is critical to the success of any of this. And I do believe that the public is going to hold the administration responsible for that kind of information.

On a positive note, Rubel points out "the information's always been there, now it's going to be there en masse, so to speak. The problem will be sorting through it, sifting it, making sense out of it in any way that makes it any more useful than it was before."

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