Summit covers wide range of Web 2.0 topics

Cloud computing, cybersecurity and credit cards

High-level speakers at the Gov 2.0 Summit held Sept. 7-8 provided wide-ranging discussions about Web 2.0 applications, public engagement, freeing government data for public use, and energizing the open government community.

Sanjeev Bhagowalia, deputy associate administrator for the General Service' Administration's Office of Citizen Services and Innovation Technologies, gave an overview of GSA activities in Web 2.0 that included involvement in,, Fedspace, and cloud computing. The GSA expects to deliver a cloud computing strategy this year, Bhagowalia said. Currently,, and are all operating in cloud environments. In addition, Fedramp is being developed with the National Institute of Standards and Technology as security for the cloud, he said at the conference sponsored by O’Reilly Media and UMB Web.

Speaking about the possibility about government agencies allowing the public to use the Web to pay fees and taxes and collect payments, Osama Bedier, vice president of product development for PayPal, said his company has spent a great deal of effort to verify the identity of its millions of customers, doing about 200 risk checks for each credit card transaction it handles.  PayPal keeps millions of credit card numbers on file to help e-commerce transactions for people who buy and sell on websites sites such as eBay.

Bedier said it would be difficult for agencies to set up an effective identity checking program on their own. “They should stop trying to do it themselves. It’s hard to build what we have built, and I cannot imagine 20 other entities trying to do it,” he said.

U.S. intelligence agencies are using the Web to encourage information-sharing between coalition forces, agencies and volunteer groups in Afghanistan, said Michele Weslander Quaid, the Director of National Intelligence’s senior representative to the Defense Department’s Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Task Force. It is enlisting community members to develop local maps where none exist. Many of the villages have never been mapped for the Web, so community members are developing those maps, she said.

Other presentations from the conference include:

  • The intelligence community also is dealing with problems related to cybersecurity attacks, and is working to coordinate its activities, said Gen. Keith Alexander, National Security Agency director and commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, according to an InformationWeek report. Cyberattacks on federal agencies have increased 150 percent since 2008, he said.
  • Labor Department Chief Financial Officer James Taylor offered some cautionary advicer on planning for financial systems updates. The department recently moved its financial systems to a shared service and that has been a dramatic change, he told InformationWeek.
  • Federal CIO Vivek Kundra, Federal CTO Aneesh Chopra and Bev Godwin, director of new media and citizen engagement at the General Services Administration, spoke about the launch of the new platform to help federal agencies hold innovation contests more easily.
  • Ellen Miller, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, delivered some strong criticism of, claiming its numbers were nearly “useless” and there was $1.3 trillion in federal spending unaccounted for in 2009.
  • Carl Malamud, founder of, spoke about the red tape being applied to government procurement that may be slowing the growth of Web 2.0 technologies. “The government may have inadvertently erected a bureaucracy that burdens market entry,” wrote Jim Stogdill, blogger for O’Reilly Media.
  • Elizabeth Hochberg, assistant general counsel at the GSA, touched on legal risks related to Web 2.0 technology use by government.
  • Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski introduced new developments that include new applications available at the FCC website to access FCC data in machine-readable forms.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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