Wyatt Kash | Editor's Desk: Blog power

It may be true that federal e-government initiatives have lost their luster. What were once cast as bold moves to connect government with the citizenry, businesses and itself in the Internet era, are often regarded now as mere office automation projects.

President Bush’s signing two weeks ago of the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, however, illustrates just how important a role the Internet continues to play within, and upon, the workings of government.

The new law requires the Office of Management and Budget to create and oversee a searchable Web site by January 2008 containing data on contracts, subcontracts, vendors, grants and other government spending. Among other things, it would also expose congressional earmarks—often buried deep within the pages of federal spending bills—to a new source of virtual daylight.

What is remarkable about the legislation’s eventual passage is the considerable impact bloggers had in getting congressmen and senators to release their anonymous holds.

Blogging has become an overhyped and messy part of Internet life, a force that has grown as powerful as it has problematic. The vast majority of blogs continue to be nothing more than blather. But the ability of knowledgeable bloggers to amplify an issue and create a groundswell of activism is a new fact of life for policy-makers.

Like ExpectMore.gov, the federal Web site that posts performance assessments on some 800 government programs, this new Web site promises to bring needed transparency—and accountability—to the way government spends America’s tax dollars.

But the law that sparked it also speaks volumes about how important the Internet has become in a modern democracy.

Hopefully, it will have another effect: And that’s to reinvigorate the promise and potential of other e-government initiatives now languishing on the political shelf.

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