5 blogs worth reading

We all remember the 1990s when an agency wasn’t cool until it had something called a Web site. Today, nearly every agency has a Web site. Now it’s all about community, interactivity and collaboration — and using tools, mostly Web-based ones, to make all that happen.

The first federal blogs that we could find came from the Federal Trade Commission in November 2006. FTC staff members used it to comment on hearings about protecting consumers in the “Next Tech-ade.” There are now at least 31 active public blogs run by federal agencies, according to the USA.gov federal government Web portal. Another 10 federal blogs have come and gone.

We profile five blogs that we believe are worth reading.

1. The Impact of IT on Businesses and Their Leaders
By Andrew McAfee, associate professor of business administration at the Harvard Business School

How can I find it?

What is it?
This blog is the list’s exception because a government agency does not host it. However, McAfee’s blog focuses on how enterprise organizations can use information technology to better do their jobs. McAfee is credited with first using the term Enterprise 2.0 and was profiled by Federal Computer Week in its Nov. 5, 2007, issue.

How often is it updated?
Regularly, sometimes several times a week.

Why is it worth reading?
McAfee offers keen observations about and examples of collaboration. One of his recent posts was titled “Evidence of the Value of a Blog.” “The best a single article can do is spark thoughts for a reader — get her to start thinking about a new topic, or to think differently about an existing one.... This blog has allowed me to air ideas on E2.0 and other topics as frequently as I want, and at the length I feel is appropriate.”

Other sample entries:
“A case for prediction markets” and “We are all wikipedians now.”

2. Department of Health and Human Services blog
How can I find it?

What is it?
Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt was the first head of an agency to write a public blog, which started Aug. 13, 2007, after HHS set up a pandemic flu blog in advance of a conference on preparedness. Leavitt’s blog covers a wide variety of issues, including health information technology.

How often is it updated?
Leavitt writes posts as often as a few times a week.

Why is it worth reading?
Leavitt regularly updates his blog, which is remarkable for the head of a major department, and discusses HHS and general health issues. The blog also fosters further discussions.

Sample entries:
“Two simple leadership tools” and “Some lessons in Singapore.”

3. Congressional Budget Office Director’s Blog
How can I find it?


What is it?
Peter Orszag, the Congressional Budget Office’s director, discusses the office’s duties, including how the office does its work and what types of analysts it has.

How often is it updated
Several times a week.

Why is it worth reading?
Although the CBO blog does not accept comments — some might argue that it can’t be a blog unless it accepts comments — Orszag is often frank when he writes about issues that range from the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to life expectancy differentials.

Sample entries:
“Implications of a cap-and-trade program” and “Cyclically adjusted and standardized budget.”

4. DipNote
How can I find it?


What is it?
DipNote, the State Department’s public blog, started in September 2007 and offers a different take on U.S. foreign policy information. Readers can discuss foreign policy issues with senior State Department officials.

How often is it updated?
Several times a week.

Why is it worth reading?
DipNote entries discuss foreign policy issues, and a variety of State employees contribute to the blog. The site encourages conversations about the issues, including ones within the agency. Last year, DipNote was the venue for a conversation about whether Foreign Service Officers should be assigned to Iraq. Someone’s post spurred an engaging discussion.

Sample entries:
“What role should religious leaders play in world politics?” and “Cambodia’s Vietnam War-era debt to the U.S.: A contentious issue.”

5. Navy Department CIO blog
How can I find it?

What is it?
Robert Carey, the Navy’s chief information officer, is the first federal CIO to regularly write a publicly posted blog. Carey entered the blogosphere in January and writes about a variety of CIO issues, ranging from information technology workforce issues to security and information sharing.

How often is it updated?
Carey posts new entries several times a month.

Why is it worth reading?
As one of the most thoughtful CIOs, Carey often addresses issues that most CIOs face. The blog recently started posting comments publicly after initially having a review process for comments. Comments are often as valuable as a post.

Sample entries:
“The impact of information sharing” and “Balancing access with security.”

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