Buzz of the Week: A lively social networking circuit

Slowly but surely Web 2.0 is moving from fun and games to serious business in the federal government. The government’s still in the experimental stages, but the experiments are getting more interesting.

The Office of Management and Budget has asked the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) to host an online discussion about health care and privacy.

During the “National Dialogue on Health Information Technology and Privacy,” which takes place this week, health IT experts will post questions, propose ideas, suggest solutions to problems — and comment on each other’s posts. The dialogue also will be open to the public.

At the end of the process, a NAPA panel will review the postings and put together a report with recommendations for the next administration, according to a NAPA spokeswoman.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard has launched a Facebook page for its search and rescue coordinators.

The page is intended for people who use the Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue system, known as Amver. According to the Coast Guard, the page will highlight items of interest to the Amver community, such as information on enrolling and reporting, recent rescue photos or videos, and details on upcoming events.

Amver users can receive updates by adding Amver as a Facebook friend.

It should surprise no one to see the service tapping into Facebook because Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen has emerged as a major proponent of social networking technology and is himself a Facebook user.

The current state of Web 2.0 applications certainly brings back brings back memories of the early days of the Web. In the mid-1990s, every agency established an online presence, but often without a lot of content. That changed as agencies began to realize that the Web could support mission-critical applications.

It will be interesting to see what Web 2.0 applications we are reporting on a year from now.


#2: Yes, I AM the boss of you
The chief information officers of federal agencies have always thought they should be in charge, but agency leaders and employees haven’t always respected the position. Now, the Office of Management and Budget has erased any ambiguities with a memo that states CIOs have ultimate authority for the governance, management and delivery of information technology programs.

Clay Johnson, OMB’s director for management, issued the memo to agency heads to require that agencies manage their IT effectively during the transition to the new administration, according to Karen Evans, OMB administrator for e-government and information technology.

“You want to be able to hand it off to the next administration and say this is the way that information technology is managed in each and every department,” she said. That’ll give the transition teams one less thing to worry about. 

#3: Air Force flies to protect networks
Air Force officials want input on how to better defend cyberspace and ensure that Defense Department networks remain constantly available. In a pre-solicitation notice issued last week, the Air Force requested white papers on defending cyberspace. Officials are looking for ways to anticipate and avoid threats through understanding the cyber situation, predicting adversarial actions and assessing potential effects.

It’s a smart step up on a long road.

#4: Why don’t they just call it “12?”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is nearing completion of a new rule, named “10+2,” that would require importers and carriers to file additional information about shipments electronically before they arrive in the United States.

The rule is named 10+2 because it would require mporters to provide CBP with 10 additional data points over the current requirements 24 hours before the cargo is loaded at a foreign port. The carriers would have two additional data points to file beyond current requirements.

Information technology, communications companies and trade groups say although the rule would provide some benefits, it could slow innovation and make their products more costly. That warning’s not stopping CPB, which plans to publish the final rule by the end of 2006+2.


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