White House schedules public Twitter chats with senior staffers

White House officials are trying a new format to engage with the public by holding several “Office Hours” chats on the deficit and other topics on the Twitter social media service.

The first real-time chat will be held with Brian Deese, deputy director of the National Economic Council, starting at 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on July 26. Members of the public are invited to submit questions via Twitter with the #WHChat hashtag. Deese will answer the questions in real-time during the session.

Kori Schulman, associate director of the White House’s new media office, described the chats as opportunities ask questions about President Barack Obama's deficit reduction negotiations with Congress and on other topics.

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“Use the hashtag #WHChat on Twitter to ask administration officials your questions on President Obama’s speech and the ongoing deficit debate,” Schulman wrote on the White House Blog on July 26.

“Starting this week, senior staff at the White House will hold regular ‘Office Hours’ to answer your questions on a host of issues and topics,” she wrote.

Five more online chats are scheduled between July 27 to July 29, although exact times are subject to change. More information is available from the @WhiteHouse Twitter account.

Schulman said the goal is to try “something new” to engage with the public. Obama recently held a Twitter “Town Hall” session in which he answered questions submitted via Twitter in a videotaped appearance broadcast live.

Obama, following his speech on the ongoing negotiations with Congress over the debt ceiling on July 25, encouraged the public to contact their congressional representatives to give their feedback about the debate. Thousands of people apparently did try to make contact, and The Hill newspaper reported jammed phone lines at congressional offices and some congressional websites were temporarily down during the day on July 26.

The scheduled Office Hour chats on Twitter are:
  • 5:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on July 26 with Brian Deese, deputy director of the National Economic Council.
  • 2:00 p.m. EDT on July 27 with Deese.
  • 1:00 p.m. EDT on July 28 with Jason Furman, principal deputy director of the National Economic Council.
  • 3:00 p.m. EDT on July 28 with Deese.
  • 10:00 a.m. EDT on July 29 with Furman.
  • 4:00 p.m. EDT on July 29 with Deese.

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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