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President Obama calls for 'more innovative' and 'accountable' government agenda

President Obama calls for 'more innovative' and 'accountable' government agenda

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President Obama is still facing questions and criticism over his unwavering support of the NSA's mass surveillance of internet and phone records, but apart from that issue, he wants to make the case that his administration is using technology for the betterment of US citizens. In a speech from the White House today, the president said that he had met with all members of his cabinet and cabinet-level officials (23 in total), and said he "directed the cabinet to develop an aggressive management agenda for my second term that delivers a smarter, more innovative and more accountable government for its citizens."

"dealing with the federal government is not always high tech, and it's not always user-friendly."

President Obama said that development of the new agenda would be led by Sylvia Matthews Burwell, the former Walmart Foundation president who was appointed the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget in April. The management agenda is an effort originally launched by President Obama's predecessor, President George W. Bush, which centered on using digital tools, primarily web portals, to streamline the workings of government and giving citizens access to more government data online (such as making the federal IRS tax forms available). President Obama didn't specifically highlight the program's origins in his speech, but he did look back on what had come from it under his first term, including the appointment of the first US chief technology officer (Aneesh Chopra, succeeded by Todd Park in 2009), the publication of digital taxpayer receipts on, getting FEMA personnel to use iPads and satellite data to deliver disaster assistance, and targeting a purported $2.5 billion in savings by "getting rid of overlapping" federal IT systems.

"We made huge swaths of your government more efficient, more transparent and more accountable than before." Obama said, also noting: "As anyone knows, dealing with the federal government is not always high tech, and it's not always user friendly, so over the past four-and-a-half years we worked diligently to change that." Obama further said his cabinet would "continue to adopt good ideas from the private sector," and talked about how he was inspired when he visited Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, in 2007 while campaigning. But at least at this time, the President didn't cite any specific examples of private sector ideas — let alone Google-inspired ones — that would be appropriated by the government.

Update: The White House has released a slide deck outlining the early details of the plan on the Office of Science and Technology blog. It also published a full video of President Obama's remarks (embed below).

Correction: This article originally mislabeled B