Tag Archives: obama

Recovery.gov May Be Just The Beginning for Open Source in Federal IT

Techmeme wasn’t exactly buzzing with the news that the new Recovery.gov website, which provides information on federal recovery programs, was built using the open source Drupal community content management system.  It made it on to Techmeme, but just barely; only one of the linked sites noted the Drupal connection, the others, including some prominent tech news sites, were only covering the launch of the site.

On the other hand, the Drupal community, including one of the Drupal creators, thought it was pretty damn cool. I also thought it was a pretty big deal for lots of reasons, perhaps formost among them, the site was apparently created quickly by a small team, quite in contrast to other federal IT programs where a court of well connected contractors charge millions, or sometimes billions, for IT projects that seem to fail as often as they succeed.

This anonymous comment on Reddit by someone claiming to have an insiders view of the Whitehouse’s IT of Recovery.gov illustrates how big a deal this is:

i’m on an anonymous acct b/c there may be one or two things i say here that aren’t entirely ready for public disclosure.

the white house is tied to an infrastructure that the bush administration bought shortly before leaving office from a major contractor for millions of dollars (public information based on contracts)

there are high level internal discussions about actually ditching this for drupal to run WH.gov altogether although there are a lot of opponents that come in two camps:

1) technologists that are saying use rails, django, or something else as drupal won’t be secure enough or flexible enough etc etc etc

2) the old guard that is afraid of anything that doesn’t come with a $10 million dollar contract (the existing WH contract is something like 20 mil — for a f*cking website)

needless to say moving from the tools had before the campaign to the ones inside the WH is a step in the wrong direction. recovery.gov being based on drupal is a positive step (technical squabbles with drupal aside) as it is a bucking of the idea that for anything to work it has to be ‘enterprise’

i come from a tech background and despise PHP and know the baggage that drupal or any “CMS” carries, but trust me, the white house launching a .gov domain without paying Boeing (yes.. boeing and other “military” contractors win website contracts over established firms b/c they know how to play the gov’t contracting game) is huge if only because it just saved millions of dollars of taxpayer money (and from a technical angle if you think drupal is bad imagine what kind of CMS Lockheed Martin or General Dynamics could cook up)

people inside the white house are talking to other very smart people in camp 1 and know not to listen to camp 2

Go back and read that again.  Whitehouse.gov was a fricking $20M website.

I’m very cautious in my optimism about the Obama administration, but things like this make me think this really is “change I can believe in.”

Drupal: from a Dutch Dorm to Delivering Democracy in Less Than a Decade

I think it would be a very interesting piece of journalism to follow Drupal’s origins in a Dutch dorm in 2000, through it’s use in the Dean and Obama campaigns to it’s use on recovery.gov.

It should provide a great lens for examining the rise of OpenSource software post the dotcom crash, the blossoming of social software, the evolution of political organizing and fundraising in the Internet-era, the role of agile development in government IT, and the role of the Internet in reshaping and opening government. Plus, it started in a dorm, so I’m sure there is some sex, drugs, and rock and roll in there too.

Obama insider leaks running mate to the AP

The Obama campaign generated
Quite a bit of buzz by promising to announce Obama’s choice of running mate via text messages.

Apparently at least one campaign insider wasn’t quite on board, because tonight they told someone from the AP that Obama had chosen Joe Biden as his running mate. Or maybe they were on board, but were a little confused. Apparently they leaked the info anonymously because, somehow, they thought that would avoid preempting the text messaged announcement on Saturday morning.

Stupid? Naive? Cynical? You be the judge.

Already Dissappointed in Obama

I’m too realistic (or is it cynical) to invest too much hope in any politician, including Barak Obama. Even so, Obama has managed to disappoint me hugely by indicating that he’ll support a version of the FISA intelligence bill that grants immunity from prosecution to the big telecom companies who cooperated with illegal government domestic wiretapping.

That the collusion of major corporations in the establishment of a police state is even an issue is the most disappointing thing of all, but 8 years of George Bush & Dick Cheney are about to come to an end. Obama is part of undoing this sick state of affairs.

Granting immunity is a step in the wrong direction. It doesn’t just perpetuate the current state of affairs, it reinforces it. It makes it harder to prosecute past illegal activity, and removes any incentives to avoid participating it in the future.

Presumably Obama is willing to take this position because he thinks it will make him more electable, but its the sort of compromise that makes me think that he’ll be no champion of the constitution if he is elected, that he’ll be too happy to make unacceptable compromises in terms of some other goal.

I am all for compromise in politics, but I think compromising the constitution is a line that should not be crossed. It makes me question other compromises he must make. Will he help expand the ethanol industry, and squander our top-soil and fresh water in the process? Will he support covert or military action in Iran, thereby insuring more blood, treasure, and credibility will be squandered in the middle instead of applied directly to problems at home?