DorobekInsider.com: An update on Recovery.gov’s National Dialogue… and DOD asks for help

Friday - 5/1/2009, 2:21pm EDT

Regular readers will know that I am fascinated with the Recovery.gov National Dialogue on Information Technology Solutions — a somewhat clunky name for the conversation that the Obama administration has opened up on ways to solve the vexing problem of encouragingtransparency in the stimulus spending. [The first DorobekInsider post about the announcement that this was going to happen is here ... and the Tuesday update can be found here.]

I find it interesting because it is a real opportunity to test the wisdom of the crowds — to get ideas, and to have people vote on the ideas that have been submitted.

Yesterday on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we had P.K. Agarwal is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administrators and Chief Technology Officer for the State of California. He gave us an update on the National Dialogue mid-way through… but he also spoke about what state officials are hoping come from the National Dialogue. Hear that conversation here. [Last week, before everything started, we spoke to Lena Trudeau of the National Academy of Public Administration about the National Dialogue. Hear that conversation here.]

This morning, Earl Devaney, the chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board — yes, the RAT Board — and Ed DeSeve, special advisor to the President for recovery implementation, sent out the following message to registered Dialogue members:

Dear Dialogue Participants,

We would like to thank you for taking the time to participate this week in the Recovery Dialogue on Information Technology Solutions. We want to remind you that the Dialogue will continue through the weekend, and we hope that you will allow some time to log back in to continue to vote and comment on ideas.

The Dialogue has brought forth lively discussion on how to make Recovery.gov a place where the public can monitor the expenditure and use of recovery funds. The growing number of users and ideas posted on the site in just a few days illustrate how interested the IT community is in impacting the operation of Recovery.gov.

Now with three days left in this week-long Recovery Dialogue, we are receiving some interesting and thoughtful submissions. However, there are a few key concepts around which we need your ideas and approaches:

- Metamodel for Recovery.gov that considers data models used by source systems

- Middleware operated by Recovery.gov that can be used to accept varying data inputs from source systems and normalizes the data into a data base

- Application Programmable Interfaces (API) that can be operated by Recovery.gov to make all recovery data available to the public

Now is a perfect time to check back on the site to help us rate and tag ideas so that the best ones rise to the top. You can still follow us on Twitter at @natldialogue to receive event reminders and updates.

For more information on the Recovery Dialogue, view our one-page summary of the initiative at http://www.napawash.org/recoverydialogue/overview.pdf. [PDF; DorobekInsider.com note: I have it posted here too in a non-PDF Flash viewer.] If you have additional questions, or if you have recommendations for others who should be contacted, please email info@thenationaldialogue.org or call 202-204-3633.

Thank you again for joining the discussion and sharing your innovative ideas.

Warm regards,

Earl Devaney
Chair, Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board

Ed DeSeve
Special Advisor to the President for Recovery Implementation

Finally, the WashingtonPost.com’s Federal Eye Ed O’Keefe scored the first interview with Devaney.

Devaney has $84 million at his disposal and will soon finish hiring a staff of 30 to oversee the site and coordinate oversight efforts with federal inspectors general and state auditors.

The Web site must be able to collect and display spending information on each stimulus-funded project by mid-October. Devaney’s team already has several critics: High-tech firms and good government groups want the ability to download and analyze spending figures and redistribute them across third-party sites. Some Web designers dislike the site’s current design. Lawmakers worry thatDevaney has not acted quickly enough to report on funds already distributed. Still others say this week’s forum has been dominated by technology companies looking for an easy way to pitch their products to government officials.

In response, Devaney pleas for patience and suggests skeptics grade the site’s progress on a monthly basis. The board has considered several design models, including a display that mirrors traditional newspaper Web sites, he said.

Read the full piece here.