Monthly Archive for September, 2009

White House Issues Social Web RFP

The White House has sparked a very lively public debate around information privacy and the role of active government with the August release of its latest new media RFP. Since transition.gov site was established in late 2008, the Obama administration has proven its commitment to using the web in new ways to open up government – making it more transparent, participatory and – hopefully – accountable.

The latest RFP builds on this track record. In it, the White House spells out some core features for a system that will crawl social media websites to extract content from the White House and users and store it. Much of the effort is aimed at responding to the Presidential Records Act, but it offers interesting possibilities for extended use, and abuse.

One the positive side, such a feature will enable the White House to keep an ear to ground around hot public debates. Perhaps even more important, it could enable social media channels to become sources of informal, indirect policy input.

One the darker side, such a feature gives the President an edge on party politics, providing a wide snapshot of critics and criticism, giving his party an edge on messaging and broader strategic imperatives.