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FCW Insider: White House posts bill for public review, stealth comments

The Obama administration has followed through on its promise, technically speaking, to post legislation online for review and comment before the president signs it.

Obama's first case study in e-democracy is the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (better known as the State Children's…). The Senate recently approved the bill and the House is expected to follow suit, so the administration has begun soliciting feedback.

The catch is this: Although users are free to submit comments online, they cannot see what other people have already written. That approach, while easier to manage, certainly dilutes the impact of social networking as a way to engage the public.

Ideally, Web 2.0 technology fosters a broad conversation among interested parties, in which participants build on or debate the merits of each other's ideas. That's the key to tapping into the "wisdom of the crowd."

By not publishing comments, the White House pretty much short-circuits the online conversation, reducing it to numerous one-on-one exchanges.

One can only hope that the new director of citizen participation, Katie Jacobs Stanton, will tackle this issue as soon as possible.
 

Posted by John Stein Monroe on Feb 02, 2009 at 12:14 PM


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