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A Paper by the Collaboration Project Advisory Panel of the

NATIONAL ACADEMY OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION

Enabling 
Collaboration 
Three Priorities for the 
New Administration 

2009 
ABOUT THE ACADEMY 

The National Academy of Public Administration 
is the preeminent independent, non‐profit 
organization for public governance.  Established 
in 1967 and chartered by Congress, the 
Academy has become an independent source 
of trusted advice for every branch and level of 
government, Congressional committees and 
civic organizations.  The Academy works 
constructively with government agencies to 
improve their performance and management 
through problem solving, objective research, 
comprehensive analysis, strategic planning, and 
connecting people and ideas.  The Academy is 
led by its elected membership of more than 
600 distinguished Fellows. 

This work by the National Academy of Public 
Administration is licensed under a Creative Commons 
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States License.  For more information, see 
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Enabling Collaboration:
Three Priorities for the New Administration

January 2009

One of a series of papers issued by the


Collaboration Project Advisory Panel

PANEL*

Greg Lashutka, Chair


P.K. Agarwal
William Eggers
Mark Forman
John Kamensky
Anne Laurent
Franklin S. Reeder

*Members of the Panel are also Fellows of the National Academy of Public Administration.
Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

Officers of the Academy


J. Christopher Mihm, Chair of the Board
Michael C. Rogers, Vice Chair
Jennifer L. Dorn, President and Chief Executive Officer
Diane M. Disney, Secretary
John J. Callahan, Treasurer

Authors
Frank DiGiammarino, Vice President
Lena E. Trudeau, Program Area Director
Mark Forman, Fellow of the National Academy
John Kamensky, Fellow of the National Academy
Daniel A. Munz, Senior Research Associate

Collaboration Project Advisory Panel


Greg Lashutka, Chair
P.K. Agarwal
William Eggers
Mark Forman
John Kamensky
Anne Laurent
Franklin S. Reeder

The views expressed in this paper are those of the Advisory Panel. They do not necessarily
reflect the views of the National Academy as an institution.

National Academy of Public administration


900 7th Street, N.W.
Suite 600
Washington, DC 20001-3888
http://www.napawash.org
http://www.collaborationproject.org

First Published January 2009

This work by the National Academy of Public Administration is licensed under a Creative
Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. For more
information, see http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us.

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

Table of Contents
Executive Summary ..................................................................................................................... iv

Priority 1: Create an Open IT Environment.............................................................................. 1


Reduce Cost and Enhance Sustainability.................................................................................... 2
Gain Scalability and Build a Flexible Enterprise........................................................................ 4
Stay Relevant to the Citizen........................................................................................................ 5

Priority 2: Treat Data as a National Asset.................................................................................. 6


Ensure Data Interoperability....................................................................................................... 8
Ensure that Authenticity Does Not Depend on Ownership ........................................................ 8
Leverage Knowledge Management Tools for Performance Gains........................................... 10

Priority 3: Foster a Culture of Collaboration .......................................................................... 12


Practice Active Collaboration................................................................................................... 12
Integrate CIOs into the Mission................................................................................................ 14
Resolve Ambiguities in Policy and Law................................................................................... 16

Conclusion ................................................................................................................................... 16

Glossary ....................................................................................................................................... 18

Appendix A: Evolution of Information Technology Policy in Government.......................... 22

Appendix B: Web 2.0 Implementation Challenges.................................................................. 24

Appendix C: Author and Panel Biographies............................................................................ 30

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

Executive Summary
The Obama administration is the first to take the reins of government in a truly “wired world”—
one in which citizens are connected by technology in complex and powerful ways using the new
operating models of the wired world.

Today, information can be accessed and shared with unprecedented speed and agility. However,
government operates according to an industrial era model that is fundamentally out of step with
the needs and expectations of modern citizens. This industrial model emphasizes controlling
information more than sharing it and avoiding risk more than fostering innovation. Worst of all,
this model uses rigid hierarchies as opposed to collaborative communities of practitioners, to
create and implement responses to emerging public needs. In his speech accepting the
nomination for the presidency, President Barack Obama summarized this disparity, saying: “we
cannot meet 21st-century challenges with a 20th-century bureaucracy.”

During his campaign, President Obama spoke frequently of the importance of bringing about
change “from the bottom up.” We need a new collaborative model to create a government that is
agile, transparent, and responsive enough to bring citizens’ ideas and priorities directly into the
process of governance. To this end, President Obama issued a directive in his first full day in
office to begin this process.1 We need a new operating model for government.

Delivering a significantly better government will require more than just soliciting feedback from
citizens or encouraging their collaborative efforts. It will require that government become agile,
transparent, and responsive to meet our needs. It will require that government gather ideas from a
diverse variety of sources and filter the inputs based on value rather than origin.

Already, President Obama has offered a vision of the future that excites and energizes
Americans. The task before him now is to build a government with the capacity to act on that
vision. Traditionally, public managers have used the term “capacity” to refer narrowly to the
question of whether a government agency can do its work: “Do you have the money, and do you
have the people?” While these elements remain necessary for successful program execution, they
are no longer sufficient. Core to the rise of the “wired world” is that today, we must expand our
definition of “capacity” to encompass technology, information and culture.

Corresponding to each of these elements are three challenges that currently inhibit the creation of
a truly collaborative government:

• An Outdated, 20th Century Technology Approach—Today, the most effective modes


of information sharing and problem-solving are driven by a flatter, more collaborative
organization. To power this organization, the world has moved towards acquiring
information technology (IT) as a service, with flexible and adaptable applications and
operating models. Today, IT is no longer the “hardened” part of an organization – its
main purpose is instead to enable flexibility in the organization. The technical capabilities

1
Presidential Memorandum, “Transparency and Open Government,” January 21, 2009.
<http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/TransparencyandOpenGovernment/>

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

of the federal government, however, were and remain designed to meet the needs of a
structure that is almost entirely hierarchical. Individual agencies continue to own and
maintain their own rigid IT environment, complete with hundreds or thousands of unique
applications and dedicated infrastructure—along with the burdens of cost, maintenance,
and inefficiency that come with it. This model is unsustainable, distracts from the core
missions of government, and inhibits collaboration.

• An Inability to Relate Data to Information, and Information to Decision Making—


Throughout the 20th century, advances in communications enabled us to collect massive
amounts of data from a diverse range of sources with unprecedented speed. The challenge
posed for managers today is turning that raw data into information, and ensuring that this
information informs decision-making. Unfortunately, problems in data interoperability,
authenticity and knowledge management prevent government from engaging in this kind
of empirical, data-driven decision-making, particularly as it relates to problems that
involve multiple offices, agencies, or departments.

• A Culture that Inhibits Collaboration—Organizations that successfully collaborate


provide organizational and structural incentives for innovation through the adoption and
continued use of information sharing environments. Today, government lacks these
incentives. Bureaucracy is designed to maintain the status quo, and there are strong
institutional incentives to value stability over innovation. Moreover, bureaucratic
hierarchy, reinforced by outdated policies and laws, artificially separates technology
leadership from agency mission performance.

It is the opinion of these authors that the following recommendations will help President
Obama’s technology and collaboration advisors2 overcome these challenges:

• Create an Open Technology Environment—The new administration must move


quickly across the entire federal government to convert IT assets and applications into a
utility environment. This approach lowers cost, enhances agility, and frees IT and
program organizations alike to focus their resources on innovation and collaboration.
Government must develop a modern communications infrastructure at the same time it
identifies and invests in a technology environment that allows public servants to focus on
solving problems instead of just navigating processes.

• Treat Data as a National Asset—Government data should not be “owned” by any


department, agency or organization. In order to embrace new technologies and empower
leaders and citizens, the new administration must establish clear standards for sharing

2
The designation of responsibility for implementing any new policy always lies directly with the President and
those who he authorizes to act on his behalf. However, potential audiences for the analysis and recommendations
presented in this document includes the new federal Chief Technology Officer: Chief Performance Officer the
President’s Management Council, the Office of Management and Budget, the Office of Science Technology and
Policy, the Domestic Policy Council, the National Economic Council, the Chief Information Officers (or equivalent
position) of individual departments and agencies, and a host of agencies and organizations concerned specifically
with the promulgation of government-wide guidance and standards, such as the National Institute of Standards and
Technology, the National Archives and Records administration, the General Services administration, the Office of
Information and Regulatory Affairs, and others.

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

data, grapple with evolving notions of data authenticity, and craft new practices for
knowledge management. All of these should replace the focus on control of information
with a focus on sharing it.

• Foster a Culture and Framework of Collaboration—Although government has made


great strides in becoming more efficient, its operating model still depends on a hierarchy
to do things faster and cheaper, rather than using collaboration to do them better.
Revising this model requires leadership that favors collaboration, and organizational roles
and policies that facilitate it. The administration must demand that that IT leaders across
government act as strategic partners with mission-delivery programs, and revisit and
revise a host of laws and policies that inhibit innovation and collaboration.

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

Priority 1: Create an Open IT Environment


To support a government that innovates through collaboration, the Obama administration must
reform government’s approach to buying and managing IT – including both physical assets and
electronic tools.

Currently, individual agencies are responsible for maintaining physical IT assets, placing the
burdens of cost and maintenance on government and doing so in a way that is fragmented and
strategically unmanageable. At a time when limitless bandwidth, disk space, and computing
power have allowed most large organizations to do more with less, government continues to
maintain individual ownership and management of its assets. While many organizations have
integrated applications around a shared services model, government manages applications and
data inline with organization hierarchies and silos. This model is quickly becoming
unsustainable, in terms of both cost and a lack of scalability.

Similarly, the applications that we use to generate and store information were never designed to
optimize compatibility. These systems generally reflect an antiquated view of government as a
series of disparate organizations and missions, rather than a united sector tasked with solving
complex and cross-cutting problems. President Obama has already placed a focus on these types
of problems, both in programmatic and organizational terms – installing in the White House, for
example, the first-ever Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change to coordinate
environmental, energy, climate, transportation and other issues across the federal government. It
remains true, however, that the various agencies implicated by this mandate face serious
obstacles in sharing information with each other or acting in any kind of real strategic concert.
Data and applications are segmented by unique IT constructs that were never designed to be
shared or integrated. The government IT environment inhibits aggregating data and synthesizing
information across agencies that the new Assistant will need for a comprehensive view of
problems and solutions. An open IT environment is needed so key advisors to the president, and
those who manage the executive functions of government, can focus on removing stovepipes
between agencies, and barriers between government and citizens, rather than simply managing
them.

Dozens of redundant data bases and applications create confusion for citizens and policy
analysts. For years, government departments and agencies have attempted to reduce duplicative
spending on IT systems and infrastructure. The 1996 Clinger-Cohen Act tasked them with
“developing, maintaining, and facilitating the implementation of a sound and integrated
information technology architecture.”3 Today, the ability to purchase and consume IT
infrastructure as a utility reshapes this entire conversation. Instead of talking about integrating
the various IT architectures of agencies and departments across government, it enables
government to own and maintain a single, centralized physical center of computing power, and
take advantage of applications that scale across the Federal environment as needed.

One need not look too far back in time to trace the beginnings of this revolution. In his 2004
book, Does IT Matter, Nicholas Carr argued that information technology was becoming a utility.
He wrote that technology “is beginning an inexorable shift from being an asset that companies
3
Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996.

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

own in the form of computers, software, and related components to being a service that they
purchase from utility providers.”4 Carr’s prediction has come true, thanks to quantum leaps in
three core aspects of computing. First, he processing power of individual computing chips has
increased exponentially since the 1970s. Second, disk storage—once a coveted asset—has
become so cheap that users of Google’s free e-mail service, Gmail, can watch their account’s
allotted storage capacity increase in real time at the service’s website.5 Finally, bandwidth – the
amount of information that can be transmitted across a network per unit of time—has increased
exponentially. At the beginning of the 1990s, a rate of 56 kilobits per second – approximately
fast enough to transmit an average 5MB .mp3 audio file in 1.5 minutes – was commonly the
upper limit for consumer-level modems. Today, those same consumers, armed with 54 megabit-
per-second wireless routers, could transmit about 1,000 files in the same span of time. The
upshot of this triple-convergence is that today, it does not matter where data physically resides
because processing, storage, and communications can be virtualized. Mass amounts of
information can be transmitted and processed so quickly that any piece of data can be anywhere,
immediately.

This triple-convergence in hardware has in turn created a new model for information processing
– one that takes advantage of the ability to shift data and processing activities to a remote center
of computing power. In the historical model, government agencies each owned data centers with
dozens of applications running on single purpose computers hard-wired into dedicated data
bases. The new model for accessing applications or processing capabilities, commonly referred
to as “software as a service” (SaaS) has produced applications that live on the Internet, are
accessible from anywhere, and scale easily to meet the needs of a diverse workforce. With SaaS,
a user brings their data over the Internet to the application, which gets computing power on
demand. The most well-known example of this is probably Google Docs, a web-based suite of
productivity applications developed by Google to provide the functionality of Microsoft’s Word,
Excel, and PowerPoint applications. As a result of models such as SaaS, government employees
can now access and rapidly combine their data with other relevant data to solve problems as they
arise.

Reduce Cost and Enhance Sustainability


The potential for cost reduction presented by utility computing and SaaS is clear. An article in
the Journal of Information Technology and Politics summarizes the possibilities:

Overall cost as measured on a capacity-basis is reduced due to consolidation, and


capital investment in physical infrastructure is amortized across many customers.
Cloud users no longer have to worry about purchasing, configuring,
administering, and maintaining their own computing infrastructure, which allows
them to focus on their core competencies. This paradigm has also been referred to

4
Carr, Nicholas. Does IT Matter? Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation, 2004.
5
As of this writing, every Gmail user is allotted 7284.734071 MB of storage space.

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

as “utility computing,” in which computing capacity is treated like any other


metered utility service—one pays only for what one uses.6

Indeed, the viability of this model for government is quickly being proved at the local level,
particularly by Washington, D.C. Chief Technology Officer Vivek Kundra, who has reported “a
90 percent increase in speed to deployment, along with an 80 percent drop in costs through not
having infrastructure to manage” after replacing users’ traditional office productivity desktop
software with Google Apps software.7

Related to cost control is the question of long-term environmental sustainability. The increased
supply of computing power, while driving efficiencies, has been accompanied by a dramatic
increase in the demand for computing power. As a result, IT managers who once measured the
capacity of their data centers in the number of physical processors or ports are increasingly using
a new metric: megawatts. As the demand for computing power has increased, data centers have
grown to a size that has begun heavily taxing the nation’s basic electrical grid, as well as our
environment.

The numbers don’t lie: A single rack of storage enclosures using 6 kW generates as much carbon
dioxide as six 1999 Chevy Tahoe SUVs in one year (about 40 tons). Most storage systems,
which are composed of dozens if not hundreds of disks that are always on regardless of the need
to retrieve data, represent the equivalent of perpetually idling an SUV in the garage in case the
owner decides to take a drive.8

As for power usage, Doug Gourlay, Senior Director of Cisco Systems’ Data Solutions Group,
tells the story of a day in July 2006 when Cisco’s hometown of Irvine, Calif., reached a high
temperature of 114 degrees. According to news accounts, the state’s electricity usage peaked at
about 50,270 megawatts – only a few hundred megawatts short of the full capacity of the state’s
electrical grid. Doing some back-of-the-envelope math, Gourlay realized that “only a few
hundred megawatts” was also a pretty good approximation of the power requirements for four
state-of-the-art data centers. In other words, only a few more major high-tech companies could
set up shop in California before the state’s entire power grid would be forced into perpetual
rolling blackouts. Shortly after this incident, the state of California had a similar realization, and
its power providers began giving out rebates to companies that could “virtualize” their data
centers – further encouraging the shift in emphasis from computing machinery to computing
power.

6
Grimes, Justin M., Paul T. Jaeger and Jimmy Lin. “Cloud Computing and Information Policy: Computing in a
Policy Cloud?” Journal of Information Technology and Politics. Fall 2008.
7
Robinson, Brian. “Gathering Storm: Cloud computing might be the Internet’s greatest feat yet, but will
governmentlatch on?” Federal Computer Week. January 12, 2009. <http://fcw.com/articles/2009/01/12/gathering-
storm.aspx>
8
Petrocelli, Robert. “Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Information.” greenBytes. August 8, 2008.
<http://www.green-bytes.com/>

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

Gain Scalability and Build a Flexible Enterprise


The most important benefit of an open IT environment is not simply cost reduction, but the
coupling of reduced cost with enhanced flexibility. In addition to being costly, managing
multiple physical IT assets – not only data centers, but computer stations and physical copies of
software – is time-consuming. Utility computing and SaaS allow government employees not just
to do with less, but to do more with less – to remove the constraint of working within the
limitations of a highly customized single purpose applications, shift critical resources away from
the operational and maintenance costs associated with maintaining a unique application, and
reallocate resources towards innovation and problem solving using readily available tools. No
truly innovative government can maintain a focus exclusively on becoming “lean and mean;” the
revolution in IT infrastructure presents an opportunity to redirect precious intellectual capital
towards the work of actively improving government, instead of just maintaining it.

It does this by providing more efficient use of resources in the form of scalability, which allows
the IT organization to maintain control of the infrastructure while avoiding the need to manage
operating systems and physical assets.9 In other words, maintaining one distributed copy of
software served over a remote, unified physical server is a lot easier than owning a unique data
center and maintaining individual copies of a program on individual physical workstations.
Consuming computing power and software as utilities does more than lower costs – it lowers
opportunity costs. Indeed, this shift to a more proactive role is necessitated by the rise of this
very model. As a result, the “I” in CIO may become just “information” and imply a much more
important role: rationalizing, securing, and integrating an enterprise’s vital information.10

With the IT organization freed to invest its time in innovation and leadership, the benefits then
accrue to employees throughout the organization. Scalable applications, deployed by a
thoughtful and engaged CIO and IT organization, benefit all employees:

Employees will be provided with a simple and intuitive interface for accessing
applications, including legacy applications. All applications will be accessible
with a similar “look and feel” in a single integrated environment. The technical
details of where the application is running and how it is accessed will be
transparent to the employee. Not only should it reduce the time and effort for an
employee to learn how to use an application, but it may enable employees to be
comfortable in utilizing a much larger number of applications than they
traditionally do. 11

9
Arlitt, Martin, Roger Curry, Cameron Kiddle, Nayden Markatchev, Rob Simmonds, Tingxi Tan, and Bruce
Walker. “Facebook Meets the Virtualized Enterprise.” HP Labs. Presented at 12th IEEE International EDOC
Conference: Munchen, Germany. July 6, 2008. <http://www.hpl.hp.com/techreports/2008/HPL-2008-72.html>
10
Forman, Mark. “Changing Role of the CIO.” Intergovernmental Solutions Newsletter. General Services
administration Office of Citizen Services and Communications. Spring 2008.
11
Arlitt, Martin, Roger Curry, Cameron Kiddle, Nayden Markatchev, Rob Simmonds, Tingxi Tan, and Bruce
Walker. “Facebook Meets the Virtualized Enterprise.” HP Labs. Presented at 12th IEEE International EDOC
Conference: Munchen, Germany. July 6, 2008. <http://www.hpl.hp.com/techreports/2008/HPL-2008-72.html>

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Spalding describes the potential of scalable, cloud-based applications
to “smash organizational stovepipes” within the particular context of the United States Air Force
and other national security-related organizations in government:

Imagine the capability to analyze the data in a global manner for the Federal
government. By tracking searches over the enterprise, employees could determine
what problems their peers were faced with. Now take this information and
combine it with the capability of social networks for bringing people with
disparate skills together to solve problems and the potential for the enterprise is
revealed.12

Stay Relevant to the Citizen


The cost and managerial benefits of an open IT environment are strong. Equally compelling is
the fact that, while these benefits are only beginning to be discovered by government, they are
already being leveraged effectively and routinely by citizens. Indeed, the amount of information
available on the Internet, and the possibility for aggregation of that data by non-government
entities, is enabling citizens to circumvent government and find faster ways to accomplish
governmental missions.

In November 2008, Google.org – the charitable foundation arm of Google – launched a project
aimed at “us[ing] aggregated Google search data to estimate flu activity in your state up to two
weeks faster than traditional flu surveillance systems.”13 Google accomplished this by noticing
that queries for certain search terms, such as “flu shots,” tended to spike in areas where instances
of influenza were on the rise. The results of the initiative, called Google Flu Trends, were
remarkable:

During the 2007-2008 flu season, an early version of Google Flu Trends was used
to share results each week with the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch of the
Influenza Division at CDC. Across each of the nine surveillance regions of the
United States, we were able to accurately estimate current flu levels one to
two weeks faster than published CDC reports. [Emphasis added.]14

The two key ingredients that powered this initiative were: publicly available data; and an
organization with the flexibility to invest in finding innovative ways to use it. A government that
is devoting significant manpower and budgetary resources to managing an outdated and
duplicative IT infrastructure cannot focus on building its this innovative capacity or, more
broadly, on delivering services in the Web 2.0 ways citizens have come to expect. Google Flu
Trends and initiatives like it should not be seen as a threat, but as an opportunity to contribute
government resources to real, grass-roots innovation. It is an opportunity that government will
not be able to seize, however, unless it implements an open IT environment, with infrastructure
and software architecture that enables government to keep up with citizens.
12
Spalding III, Lt. Col. Robert. “The Jedi Revolution: Fighting In The Cloud Circa 2035.” Air War College, Air
University. Slated for release February 22, 2009.
13
“How does this work?” Google.org. <http://www.google.org/about/flutrends/how.html> December 7, 2008.
14
Ibid.

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

Priority 2: Treat Data as a National Asset


The Internet has enabled users to manage, analyze, visualize, and repurpose data in revolutionary
ways. This revolution is accompanied by a dramatic shift in the way we think about information.
We have been conditioned to think of data as being connected directly to a source—any given
fact or figure may be in a book or from an article or on a website. In the federal environment,
data resides in bureaucratic silos and is “owned” by particular agencies. This is contrary to the
Internet‘s tendency to aggregate data, collecting information from various sources. Web 2.0 is
obviating the question of where data is – it just is.

The most interesting example of this phenomenon may be the mashup, a type of web application
that combines data from multiple sources into a single tool, generally based on a Google Maps or
Google Earth interface, or similar geographical information systems (GIS) platform. Mashups
have been used to aggregate data ranging from subway systems to crime statistics, from
restaurant reviews to property values.

The rise of Web 2.0 has made vast amounts of data available to decision makers and the public.
The challenge facing government is connecting disparate data to produce actionable
information—and doing it fast. The intelligence community’s nightmare scenario is another
terrorist attack after which the critical piece of evidence is found to have been collected, stored,
but ignored.

Government has made some strides in this area:

• The Data Reference Model, a “framework whose primary purpose is to enable


information sharing and reuse across the federal government via the standard description
and discovery of common data and the promotion of uniform data management
practices.”15

• The Information Sharing Environment, implemented in response to the recommendations


of the 9/11 Commission, is an approach implemented by the United States Intelligence
Community that “facilitates the sharing of terrorism information” and “leverages existing
information sharing policies, business processes, technologies, systems, and promotes a
culture of information sharing through increased collaboration.”16

• In the field of financial accounting – one in which clear and usable data is of paramount
importance–the General Services administration (GSA) has promulgated a Common
Governmentwide Accounting Classification (CGAC) structure that “establishes a
standard financial structure across all agencies that will be recognized on a government-
wide basis, similar to the way the ATM standard is recognized and used by all banks”

15
“The Data Reference Model, Version 2.0.” The White House. November 17, 2005.
<http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/egov/documents/DRM_2_0_Final.pdf>
16
“ISE Purpose and Vision.” Information Sharing Environment. January 14, 2009.
<http://www.ise.gov/pages/vision.html>

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

and “includes data needed for internal and external reporting and provides flexibility for
agency mission-specific needs.”17

New data management policies must permit mass collaboration and enhance our ability to relate
data to decision making. Doing this will require:

• Ensuring data interoperability so that information flows seamlessly within and among
agencies, and between government and citizens.

• Redefining the concept of authenticity to balance government’s role as an authoritative


source with an environment that does not inherently distinguish “government data”.

• Recognizing the importance of knowledge management, and the potential of


collaborative tools to revolutionize government’s ability to accrue institutional memory
and withstand constant transition.

Surrounding all of these is a need to define when data is a national asset – and make clear that
sharing information, not hoarding it, is an imperative of good governance. President Obama has
already begun to recognize the need to make openness the default position of the government,
issuing guidance on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) disclosures that substantially revises
previous policy:

The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear


presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails. The Government should not
keep information confidential merely because public officials might be
embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or
because of speculative or abstract fears… The presumption of disclosure also
means that agencies should take affirmative steps to make information public.
They should not wait for specific requests from the public. All agencies should
use modern technology to inform citizens about what is known and done by their
Government. Disclosure should be timely.18

With this statement, President Obama touched on the most important tension surrounding the
management of data in the federal government. The model that currently defines data
management in government assumes that data is “owned” by individual agencies, and treats the
collector of data as its steward. As a result, the decision about whether to share and disseminate
data to the public cannot be made with any global consideration of whether disclosure would
serve the public interest. Adopting policies that allow data to be seen as a national asset
regardless of where and by whom it was collected may be the single most important thing
President Obama can do to unify government and enhance opportunities for citizen engagement
and participation.

17
“GSA Announces Common Governmentwide Accounting Classification Structure.” GSA.gov. August 9, 2007.
<http://www.gsa.gov/Portal/gsa/ep/contentView.do?contentId=23408&contentType=GSA_BASIC>
18
The White House. “Freedom of Information Act.” January 21, 2009.
<http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/FreedomofInformationAct/>

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Ensure Data Interoperability


On the Web, data tends to flow seamlessly simply because most of the great format wars have
been won. The most basic types of content (images, audio, video) exist in a finite and easily-
accommodated number of formats. Most open-source productivity suites (like Google Docs and
Sun OpenOffice) accept that Microsoft’s Word, Excel, and PowerPoint formats rule. Pioneering
applications (like Google Maps and Facebook) have made a common practice of releasing
application programming interfaces, or APIs, so that any eager developer can make their own
applications that incorporate these tools. In the federal sector, by contrast, organizational
importance is often measured by the amount of data or number of IT systems owned by the
agency. Coinciding with each system that an agency “owns” is a unique and often proprietary
format that an organization has created, yielding a barrier to government’s ability to collaborate
through use of SaaS or other Web 2.0 tools.

More worrisome than the proliferation of custom data formats, is the challenge of ensuring data
interoperability in the face of policy and cultural hurdles. How, for example, can the concept of a
data “cloud” survive stringent classification schemes that vary across agencies?

Across government, there is tension between the agencies’ desire to “control” data and the
collaborative Web’s natural tendency to pull data into “the Internet.” Historically, the agencies’
control has prevailed.

Ensure that Authenticity Does Not Depend on Ownership


What is the federal government’s strategy and responsibility for keeping government data on the
Web accurate? One solution may be something like Creative Commons, a tool founded by
Stanford Law Professor Lawrence Lessig, that enables the author of creative material to reserve
“some rights” while still distributing it freely across the web for reuse under certain, specified
conditions.19 Another solution might be to develop government wide policies for engaging with
Wikipedia, Facebook, YouTube, and other popular Web 2.0 applications, potentially by
identifying a “gatekeeper” function that could coordinate each agency’s engagements.

Another important step will be to deepen government’s focus on playing actively in the data
market. In a recent paper entitled “Government Data and the Invisible Hand,” a group of
Princeton University researchers argue that government should shift its focus away from portals,
which keep citizens in the role of end-user, and toward publishing data in ways that are easier to
use and re-use by citizens:

If the next Presidential administration really wants to embrace the potential of


Internet-enabled government transparency, it should follow a counter-intuitive
but ultimately compelling strategy: reduce the federal role in presenting important
government information to citizens. It would be preferable for government to
understand providing reusable data, rather than providing websites, as the core of
its online publishing responsibility…

19
“About.” Creative Commons. <http://creativecommons.org/about/>

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

Rather than struggling, as [government] currently does, to design sites that meet
each end-user need, it should focus on creating a simple, reliable and publicly
accessible infrastructure that "exposes" the underlying data. Private actors, either
nonprofit or commercial, are better suited to deliver government information to
citizens and can constantly create and reshape the tools individuals use to find and
leverage public data. The best way to ensure that the government allows private
parties to compete on equal terms in the provision of government data is to
require that federal websites themselves use the same open systems for accessing
the underlying data as they make available to the public at large. 20

However, this paradigm of government as a “disseminator” is based on government functioning


as an exclusive and authoritative source of accurate information. Reality is quickly overtaking
this model. Government has become a mass collector of redundant data, and, its siloed systems
do not enable aggregation or synthesis needed for addressing problems such as the current
economic crisis. In the realm of data, mass collaboration is acting as a “great equalizer” between
populations that have not always been seen as equal – the government and the governed.
Ultimately, the federal government’s need to take advantage of the interactive Web may foster a
willingness to admit that its true “authority” over information is illusory.

Wikipedia, for example, is often criticized for allowing “multiple versions of the truth.” But the
speed at which Wikipedia permits revision of the “truth” can obscure the fact that a similar
phenomenon has always governed data and information. Charles Cooper, the executive editor of
CNET News, makes a provocative comparison:

On your ride home today, try pondering a future where Wikipedia's model of
competing versions of the truth becomes the norm. Will the increasing influence
of the wisdom of the crowd force us to rethink the nature of knowledge? With the
proliferation of the Internet, more voices inevitably will become part of that
conversation.

You can argue that epistemological revisionism goes on all the time. As a kid, I
remember thumbing through a 1920s encyclopedia when I found a discussion of
different racial categories. Someone reading the entry decades later would have
found the assertions in that article to be nonsensical, if not borderline racist. But
when the book was published, the people who might have corrected the record
had no power over the publishing company printing up the product line. With the
Internet, anyone with an online connection can chime in…Ostensibly, the
objective is truth. But questions about the nature of truth date back to Plato and
Aristotle. It's a vexing argument that continues to the present day.21

In other words, authority never has equated to authenticity. Web 2.0 and collaborative platforms
like Wikipedia are simply making that fact clearer and quicker than ever before. Government,

20
Robinson, David, Yu, Harlan, Zeller, William P. and Felten, Edward W., “Government Data and the Invisible
Hand.” Yale Journal of Law & Technology, Vol. 11, 2008.
21
Cooper, Charles. “Perspective: Wikipedia and the nature of truth.” CNet News. December 2, 2005.
<http://news.cnet.com/Wikipedia-and-the-nature-of-truth/2010-1025_3-5979331.html>

9
Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

when engaging the large communities that characterize the interactive Web, may have to accept
a role as another voice in a sea of equals.

Leverage Knowledge Management Tools for Performance Gains


The electoral rhythms of American politics have a great deal of impact on the day-to-day
functioning of government. The executive branch changes leadership, every four or eight years,
and the legislative branch generally has some kind of change in overall character every two
years. But, senior staff in these two branches rarely last longer than two years. Both branches are
deeply involved in determining not only the substantive goals of government, but the operational
procedures and standards by which those goals are pursued.

While this level of turnover can be healthy – indeed, vital – to the health of the body politic, it
also hobbles government’s ability to learn from mistakes, grow wiser with experience, and
develop institutional memory. Between 1990 and 2001, the average tenure of a political
appointee was just under three years, and the staggering of those appointments means that there
is constant turnover in the political leadership of government.22 In an age when government is
expected to do more, move quicker, and respond with more agility to changing conditions, this
level of turnover often creates vacuums of leadership.

Technology only exacerbates the need for effective and durable knowledge management. While
e-mail and cell phones have sped up the bureaucracy, once a public servant ends his or her tenure
in government, those accounts are turned off, losing the information, relationships, and strategic
guidance contained therein.

The most successful Web 2.0 applications function by storing individual insights—uploaded
photos, comments on blog posts, geotags of people’s current locations on Google Maps—and
providing users with platforms to aggregate these in startling and powerful new ways. What if
government adopted a new attitude towards knowledge management? The idea of wikis
supplanting e-mail, for example, is not so far-fetched; some current wiki solutions already offer
users the ability to automatically capture and index all incoming and outgoing e-mail.

The State Department has taken things a step further. In January 2006, as part of a new strategy
for working with other nations around the world, Secretary Condoleezza Rice announced a
concept known as Transformational Diplomacy, including an initiative to “[use] 21st century
technology…to engage foreign publics more directly via the media and Internet, and to better
connect diplomats in real time.”23 This plan called for diplomats to be proactive in establishing
ties with local communities and to work on effective strategies for engagement.

While the department was working to gather and share data with outside communities, many
inside the agency were dissatisfied with their inability to share and pass down information within
the organization. At the same time, senior officials were looking for ways to more efficiently

22
Barr, Stephen. “Book Advises Political Appointees on How to Succeed in Washington.” The Washington Post.
February 19, 2003.
23
“Fact Sheet: Transformational Diplomacy.” Office of the Spokesman. January 18, 2006.
<http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2006/59339.htm>

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

update preliminary reports done by previous embassy staff. Without a centralized location for
information sharing, officials were unable to access any concluding information. It was a classic
knowledge management problem.

Instead of trying to automate their way out of the problem, the officials innovated. In September
2006, the Office of eDiplomacy created Diplopedia, “a new collaborative internal website…[that
is] similar in design and uses the same software as Wikipedia” and “allows users to edit, update
and contribute entries:”

There are now more than 1,400 active articles and 255 agency employees
registered as editors, according to the program’s organizers. The site is housed on
State’s sensitive but unclassified intranet and is accessible by all department
employees. Like other wikis, Diplopedia articles are written mostly by people
who have an expertise in the subject, and accuracy depends on the community of
authorities using the site to correct any wrong information. Organizers also tout
Diplopedia’s social-networking and collaborative benefits.24

As of August 2008, Diplopedia contained over 4,400 articles by 1,000 registered users, and had
received over 650,000 total page views.25 In implementing Diplopedia, State showed that
collaboration has powerful implications not only for groundbreaking innovation, but for
preserving critical institutional knowledge.

The prospect of using wikis to lend endurance not only to knowledge, but to the organic and
informal relationships and communities that inevitably form within any large bureaucracy, is an
appealing one. This appeal will only grow as the federal workforce continues to be challenged by
the retirement of the baby boom generation; the increasing reliance on contractors,
nongovernmental organizations and other levels of government to accomplish missions; the
demand for more accountability and transparency; and other trends that make simply pushing the
“reset” button every four years untenable.

24
Bain, Ben. “Diplopedia ‘one-stop shop’ for foreign affairs data.” Government Computer News. July 26, 2008.
25
Johnson, Eric. “Diplopedia: Wiki Culture in the U.S. Department of State.” Presentation. Wikimania 2008,
Alexandria, Egypt. July 19, 2008.

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

Priority 3: Foster a Culture of Collaboration


In recent history, government has focused on enhancing the speed and efficiency of transactions
and processes that government regularly performs. Laws like the 1993 Government Performance
and Results Act and the 1980 Paperwork Reduction Act emphasize process changes to centralize
information and move it more quickly through pre-established channels. A similar emphasis has
guided government’s approach to technology, with e-government initiatives focused on
consolidating and automating processes and treating citizens as the “customer” around whom
this activity revolves (see Appendix A).

Focusing on efficiency and results helps keep government dynamic and relevant. But the
underlying “principal agent” model that defines this outlook is hierarchical and inhibits
collaboration. Even the best public managers must work within a bureaucracy designed to be
fine-tuned through rigid control—not transformed through collaboration. The threats and
problems facing us reach across agencies and sectors, but our approaches to solving them do not.
The result is a kind of artificial ceiling that limits the effectiveness of government.

The next President has the opportunity—and the responsibility—to shatter that ceiling. While the
use of data and IT infrastructure are critical prerequisites for implementing a vision of
collaborative governance, neither is sufficient unless the people who share that data and use that
infrastructure are empowered to work collaboratively. Leadership is crucial to making this
happen.

Implementing a culture of collaboration will be a task primarily of leadership by example. The


President has already made a clear commitment to make policy by soliciting and synthesizing
diverse viewpoints—enabled by technology and potentially at mass scale. Cascading this
commitment through government is vital and requires three tactics:

• Practice active collaboration to enhance not only the efficiency of service delivery, but
the quality and effectiveness of the service being delivered by fostering adoption of
collaborative tools and approaches.

• Integrate Chief Information Officers into the missions of their agencies so they
provide strategic and technical support and are empowered and required to proactively
seek innovation by applying new technologies.

• Resolve ambiguities in policy and law that heighten risk and inhibit innovation.

Practice Active Collaboration


For decades, leaders seeking to make organizations more efficient—whether in government or
the private sector—have focused on transaction processes—those regular, repeatable elements of
a process that can easily be sped up, centralized, or otherwise improved through automation.
This was the idea behind many e-government initiatives—to use technology to streamline,

12
Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

simplify and integrate processes, or reduce the number of middlemen between government and
citizens. It made government more efficient and accessible.

Increasingly, though, the problems facing government are not of speed, but of scope. Jonathan
Breul, Executive Director of the IBM Center for the Business of Government, has identified
several “big challenges” that will confront public managers in the decade ahead, including fiscal
sanity, information overload, governing without boundaries, government by contractors, and
“green” leadership.26 None of these challenges can be solved by any single person, office, or
agency doing the same things faster or cheaper. Improving transaction processes is not enough.
Today’s technologies focus not on increasing efficiency through simple automation, but on
aggregating data and building communities through mass collaboration. They reveal a way of
doing the work of government with a broader, more agile and strategic perspective.

The mass collaborations enabled by Web 2.0 tools allow us to begin improving, systematically,
the knowledge processes that drive large-scale problem solving. Knowledge processes are those
elements of government that are not routine or controlled. They require judgment, deliberation,
and innovation, and they are usually not susceptible to increases in efficiency – people can’t just
think faster. However, a new breed of collaborative tools, powered by the Internet, is allowing
large communities to think better – by thinking together:

The smartest guy in the room is everybody. Tim O'Reilly, an early promoter of
the Web 2.0 idea, says, “The central idea is harnessing collective intelligence.”
This sounds lofty, but is actually happening all the time on the Web. Every time
you type in a search query on Google, what's happening under the hood is the
equivalent of a massive polling operation to see which other sites people on the
Web have deemed most relevant to that term. Magically, it yields a result that no
amount of hands-on filtering could have managed. “It's clear that the Web is
structurally congenial to the wisdom of crowds,” says James Surowiecki, author
of a book (“The Wisdom of Crowds,” ) that argues that your average bunch of
people can guess the weight of a cow or predict an Oscar winner better than an
expert can. That's why some people believe that an army of bloggers can provide
an alternative to even the smartest journalists, and that if millions of eyes monitor
encyclopedia entries that anyone can write and rewrite (namely, the Wikipedia),
the result will take on Britannica.27

We must learn to unify and broaden our knowledge processes – the thousands of tactical
decisions and strategic judgments we make every day. We must not only keep the citizen at the
center of our delivery of governance, but also enable those within government to extend
knowledge processes across organizational and geographical boundaries. Examples of this
thinking, like Diplopedia, as well as a classified Intellipedia that facilitates information-sharing
across the 16 agencies that compose the U.S. Intelligence Community, are quickly beginning to
surface. Even outside of government, exciting communities like GovLoop – a social networking

26
Breul, Jonathan. “Ten Challenges Facing Public Managers.” Presented at the U.S. Department of Energy Visiting
Speakers’ Program. July 16, 2008.
27
Levy, Steven and Brad Stone. “The New Wisdom of the Web.” Newsweek. April 3, 2006.

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

site aimed at connecting public service professionals and promoting knowledge sharing – are
attracting thousands of users and truly impressive content.

From a leadership perspective, the model that underlies initiatives like these is a radical
departure. In many organizations—especially government—control is the metric of success. The
most admired managers effectively delegate strategic decisions through the chain of command
and focus squarely on fulfilling an organizational mandate. In a networked world, though, rigid
hierarchies and water’s-edge boundaries stifle innovation and inhibit strategic decision-making.
In a networked world, the most successful leaders are not those who maintain such boundaries,
but those who are able to foster an environment that rewards risk-taking, big-picture thinking,
and collaboration.

In order to succeed, President Obama must put a clear emphasis on finding and promoting
leaders who are willing to adopt this kind of thinking, to trade the comfort of control over data
for the power of fostering collaboration and innovation in key knowledge processes. Perhaps
more importantly, given a federal apparatus that both enables and demands strategic
management of the government’s information and IT assets and policies, the President must
think about how to manage those resources in a way that supports those leaders who do emerge.
The challenge for leaders in government, in turn, is to learn to trade control for collaboration.

Integrate CIOs into the Mission


The 2002 E-government Act codified the role of OMB as an administrator of funding and
provider of horizontal oversight for all e-government initiatives across the federal environment.
That role was manifested by the creation of the Office of E-Government and Information
Technology. Long before that, the 1996 Clinger-Cohen Act required each federal agency to
designate a CIO with responsibility for “developing, maintaining, and facilitating the
implementation of a sound and integrated information technology architecture.”28 These laws
recognized the need for technology leadership across and throughout government.

They also paved the way for the President’s public commitment to appoint an overarching
federal Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to “ensure that our government and all its agencies have
the right infrastructure, policies and services for the 21st century.” The most critical aspect of
this position may be the CTO’s duty to ensure dialogue across agency lines:

The CTO will ensure the safety of our networks and will lead an interagency
effort, working with chief technology and chief information officers of each of the
federal agencies, to ensure that they use best-in-class technologies and share best
practices.29

This promise is a welcome recognition that technology leadership is essential not only at the
presidential level, but within each Executive Branch agency. But today’s technologies require
extending this mandate. The rise of open-source software and web-based applications means that

28
Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996.
29
“Technology.” Barack Obama and Joe Biden: The Change We Need: Technology.”
<http://www.barackobama.com/issues/technology/>

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

even the tools used for everyday business processes are continuously undergoing massive shifts
and innovations. In such an environment, success absolutely requires integrating IT managers
and personnel into the mission-oriented work of federal agencies. Platforms like blogs, wikis,
and mashups are tools, not applications. Fully harnessing the power of mass collaboration means
bringing together the organizational elements most familiar with business and programmatic
needs with those most engaged in crafting technical solutions. That means giving IT a seat at the
decision-making table. This reality is affirmed by independent analyses, such as one recently
conducted by Forrester Research.

Marketing departments, corporate communications, or other lines of business led


early enterprise Web 2.0 deployments, with IT departments along for the ride, if
they were involved at all. That dynamic is changing rapidly; our recent Web 2.0
survey shows IT departments taking a more active role in the acquisition and
deployment of Web 2.0 technologies. Budgetary controls, the need for integration
and technical skills, and the growing importance of Web 2.0 tools are all putting
IT departments in the driver's seat.30

The flip-side of this coin is that, throughout government, leaders must begin to challenge their IT
shops to earn a seat at the table of power by demonstrating the ability to provide strategic vision
in support of the evolving needs of programs. Communities like the CIO Council —and
organizations of CIOs across government codified by the E-Government Act—have set a
strategic goal of identifying and using interoperable IT solutions government-wide. Indeed, such
a goal is only within reach today because the legacy of e-government is a powerful infrastructure
for managing federal IT investments and resources. However, just as the present moment
requires a shift away from government’s IT personnel as managers of infrastructure, it requires
these same personnel to shift toward directly supporting program needs with strategic planning
and innovation. The CIO Council’s FY 2007-2009 Strategic Plan echoes this sentiment, adopting
as its first goal the creation of “a cadre of highly capable IT professionals with the mission
critical competencies needed to meet agency goals.” It goes on to argue:

The rate of change in information technology, Congressionally-mandated


requirements, and other federal policies all contribute to the ongoing evolution in
IT workforce management. As the federal government continues to streamline IT
resources, resulting in more enterprise-wide programs, it must also ensure that the
IT workforce remains highly competent and well versed in critical IT skills.31

This statement is part of a growing recognition that an organization’s capacity to collaborate and
innovate depends directly on the extent and type of collaborative tools at its disposal, and the
capacity of its personnel to use those tools effectively.

30
Young, G. Oliver, Christopher Mines, and Madiha Ashour. “IT Departments Play Key Role In The Acquisition
And Deployment Of Web 2.0 Technologies.” Forrester Research. July 10, 2008.
31
“Federal Chief Information Officer Council Strategic Plan FY 2007-2009.” January 17, 2007.
<http://www.cio.gov/documents/CIOCouncilStrategicPlan2007-2009.pdf>

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

Resolve Ambiguities in Policy and Law


How many versions of a single page on a government wiki are subject to disclosure under the
Freedom of Information Act? The question is simple, but answers are elusive. FOIA largely fails
to contemplate iterative media—documents that evolve collaboratively in an online setting.
Similarly, at what point does an Instant Message (IM) exchange become a single document that
is subject to FOIA requests—and how can agencies configure IM to anticipate such requests?

FOIA is one of a host of policies and statutes that raise such questions: the Federal Advisory
Committee Act (FACA), the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), federal procurement policy, anti-
indemnification laws, disability laws and others 32pose similarly novel challenges. When it
comes to federal law and policy governing collaboration and public engagement, the game has
changed, but the rules have not. New tools such as blogs, wikis, and social networks are simply
unanticipated.

Agencies are experimenting with collaborative technologies and approaches on a case-by-case


basis in consultation with their counsels. But absent clear documentation of how relevant laws
and policies apply, this experimentation creates a high-risk environment for the agencies that are
taking the lead. In the risk-averse government culture, leaving intact such consequential gaps in
law and policy can be a barrier to innovation. These laws and policies require significant
reconsideration and revision. Legitimate legal and policy concerns about collaborative tools are
hampering innovation and adoption.

Conclusion
Today, the nation stands on the brink of an unprecedented era of innovation and renewal. The
President has chosen to execute this vision with a bold and unprecedented commitment to
transparency, connectedness, and innovation. Building a government that is as agile, transparent,
and responsive as those it governs is vital to realizing this vision. While there has been progress
across the federal system, there is much to be done. Fortunately, there are models to follow and
pockets of excellence to be celebrated and leveraged.33

While the President and the citizenry may be ready to embrace these tools and approaches, the
government apparatus is not. Immediate progress can and should be made. Bold program and
project staffers should continue to move out and experiment and embrace these tools as new
ways of doing the business of government. At the same time, this Panel recommends that the
President set three new technology and innovation:

• Create an Open IT Environment—The new administration must move quickly across


the entire federal government to recognize the emerging commoditization of IT
infrastructure, as well as the need to virtualize and consolidate physical assets to ensure
fiscal and environmental sustainability. These steps will free government from direct
ownership of a fragmented infrastructure and dramatically lower the costs of innovation.

32
See Appendix B for a list of web 2.0 implementation challenges
33
There are over 50 government examples of various approaches at http://www.collaborationproject.org.

16
Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

• Treat Data as a National Asset—Viewing data as a proprietary resource is


unsustainable. In order to embrace new technologies and empower leaders and citizens,
the new administration must establish clear standards for sharing data, reduce the tension
between sharing and security, accommodate changing concepts of data authenticity, and
craft new practices for knowledge management.

• Foster a Culture of Collaboration—Although government has made great strides in


becoming more efficient, it still depends on the hierarchy to do things faster and cheaper,
rather than using collaboration to do them better. Reversing this model requires
leadership that emphasizes not just efficient process but also effective delivery of results;
demands that IT leadership act as a strategic partner with mission-oriented elements of
the organization; and revisits and revises a host of laws and policies that inhibit
innovation and collaboration.

Today’s most effective public leaders embrace the vision of informal networks innovating across
organizational boundaries, and of acting not only in service to citizens, but in partnership with
them. The challenge for President Obama will be to implement the policies and infrastructure
that support this kind of forward-looking leadership. Doing so is a prerequisite to realizing his
bold vision of making America not just a great nation, but an open and transparent democracy.

17
Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

Glossary
Aggregation—Gathering information from multiple websites, typically via RSS. Aggregation
lets websites remix the information from multiple websites, for example by republishing all the
news related to a particular keyword.

Bliki—A combination of the two Internet concepts of a blog and wiki. It combines features from
both: as with blogs, posts or articles appear in reverse chronological order on the front page, with
the most recent one at the top; but editing is done in wiki style, with a version history for each
page and special markup tags.

Blog—Originally short for “weblog,” a blog is a web page that contains entries in reverse
chronological order, with the most recent entry on top. It is usually updated more frequently than
a website with static content, and often solicits and displays comments from readers.

Blogroll—A list of recommended sites that appears in the sidebar of a blog. These sites are
typically sites that are either on similar topics, sites that the blogger reads regularly, or sites that
belong to the blogger's friends or colleagues.

del.icio.us—A social bookmarking web service for storing, sharing, and discovering web
bookmarks. Users can create individual feeds which then aggregate the most popular items to
prominent status on the site's front page.

Digg—A community-based popularity website that combines social bookmarking, blogging, and
syndication with a form of non-hierarchical, democratic editorial control. News stories and
websites are submitted by users, and then promoted to the front page through a user-based
ranking system.

Discussion Board—A web application for holding discussions and posting user generated
content. The term may refer to the entire community or to a specific sub-forum dealing with a
distinct topic. Messages within these sub-forums are then displayed either in chronological order
or as threaded discussions.

Facebook—A popular social networking website originally aimed at college students, but
beginning to be more widely used by the general population.

Flickr—An online community platform built around users uploading, sharing, tagging, and
commenting on photos taken by users.

Folksonomy—The practice and method of collaboratively creating and managing tags to


annotate and categorize content.

Google Earth—A version of Google Maps that offers a three-dimensional view of maps and
terrain along with some enhanced functionality.

Google Maps—A free application and development platform that provides online maps. It offers
street maps, a route planner, and an urban business locator for numerous countries around the
world.

18
Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

Instant Messaging—A form of real-time communication between two or more people in which
typed text is conveyed via computers connected over a network such as the Internet.

LinkedIn—A business-oriented social networking site used mainly for professional networking.

Mashup—A web service or software tool that combines two or more tools to create a whole new
service. A leading example is ChicagoCrime, which merges Google Maps with the Chicago
police department's crime tracking website to offer a map of crime in different parts of Chicago.

MMS—Multimedia Messaging Service; a version of SMS that allows for the conveyance of
media such as sounds, videos, and still images.

Moblogging—Short for mobile blogging, moblogging refers to posting blog updates from a cell
phone, camera phone or PDA (personal digital assistant). Mobloggers may update their websites
more frequently than other bloggers, because they don't have to be at their computers in order to
post.

MySpace—A popular social networking website known for allowing users to customize their
homepages with elaborate design elements, multimedia content, and photos of other friends in
their myspace social network.

Newsreader/Feedreader—A newsreader gathers the news from multiple blogs or news sites via
RSS, allowing readers to access all their news from a single website or program. Online
newsreaders are Websites that let you read RSS feeds from within your web browser. Desktop
newsreaders download the news to your computer, and let you read your news inside a dedicated
software program.

Open-Source—A type of software for which the source code is available to the general public to
build on or modify.

Phonecast—A version of a podcast designed to be broadcast to cellular phones and other mobile
devices.

Plaxo—An online address book service that relies on social networking to maintain and
distribute current contact, schedule, and other types of information.

Podcast—An audio blog, typically updated weekly or daily. Podcasts take their name from
having originally been designed for iPods, but you can also listen to podcasts on a desktop
computer, or many other digital audio players.

RSS—Really Simple Syndication; A format for storing online information in a way that makes
that information readable by lots of different kinds of software. Many blogs and Websites feature
RSS feeds: a constantly updated version of the site's latest content, in a form that can be read by
a newsreader or aggregator.

Second Life—An Internet-based virtual world launched in 2003, which users can access via a
downloadable client program called the Second Life Viewer. It enables its users to interact with
each other through motional avatars, providing an advanced level of social networking, and

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

residents can explore, meet other users, socialize, participate in individual and group activities,
and create and trade items (virtual property) and services with one another.

Semantic Web—An evolving extension of the World Wide Web in which web content can be
expressed not only in natural language, but also in a format that can be read and used by software
agents, thus permitting them to find, share and integrate information more easily.

SMS—Short Message Service; a platform for sending short text messages of no more than 160
characters between mobile telephony devices such as cell phones.

Social Bookmarking—The collaborative equivalent of storing favorites or bookmarks within a


web browser, social bookmarking services let people store their favorite websites online. Social
bookmarking services also let people share their favorite websites with other people, making
them a great way to discover new sites or colleagues who share your interests.

Social Networking—Social networking sites help people discover new friends or colleagues by
illuminating shared interests, related skills, or a common geographic location. Leading examples
include Facebook and MySpace.

Tags—Keywords that describe the content of a website, bookmark, photo or blog post. You can
assign multiple tags to the same online resource, and different people can assign different tags to
the same resource. Tag-enabled web services include social bookmarking sites (such as
del.icio.us), photo sharing sites (like Flickr) and blog tracking sites (like Technorati). Tags
provide a useful way of organizing, retrieving and discovering information.

Technorati—A site that provides a search engine specifically for blog content, relying on social
bookmarking and tagging to promote popular items to the site's front page.

Thumbcast—The mobile delivery of text, picture, audio, or video content via SMS, MMS, or
other mobile distribution mechanism.

Twitter—A free social networking and moblogging service that allows users to send "updates"
(or "tweets"; text-based posts, up to 140 characters long) to the Twitter website, via SMS, instant
messaging, or a third-party application.

Videocast—A version of a podcast in which video content, rather than audio content, is
broadcast.

VoIP—Voice over Internet Protocol; a protocol optimized for the transmission of voice through
the Internet or other packet switched networks. VOIP is increasingly taking the place of
traditional land-line telephony services.

Voting/Polling—An electronic means for gathering data on users' opinions or ratings of various
items. This data is often aggregated into overall ratings.

Web 2.0—A trend in web design and development towards a second generation of web-based
communities and hosted services, which aim to facilitate creativity, collaboration, and sharing

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

between users. These interactions generate content that is published, managed and used by these
communities and the general public.

Wiki—A collaboratively edited web page. The best known example is Wikipedia, an
encyclopedia that anyone in the world can help to write or update. Wikis are frequently used to
allow people to write a document together, or to share reference material that lets colleagues or
even members of the public contribute content.

Wikipedia—A free online encyclopedia created, edited, and maintained by users in a


collaborative fashion.

YouTube—A video sharing website where users can upload, view, share, and comment and vote
on video clips.

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

Appendix A:
Evolution of Information Technology Policy in Government
On December 17, 1999, the White House released a memorandum that began with the following
observation: “As public awareness and Internet usage increase, the demand for online
Government interaction and simplified, standardized ways to access Government information
and services becomes increasingly important.” It went on to order that access to government
information be “organized not by agency, but by the type of service or information that people
may be seeking; the data should be identified and organized in a way that makes it easier for the
public to find the information it seeks.”34

This movement, in turn, had its roots largely in legislation such as 1980’s Paperwork Reduction
Act (PRA), which created within the Office of Management and Budget the Office of
Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to oversee agency information collections and
related regulations, with the goal of reducing the amount of paperwork citizens must complete at
the behest of federal agencies. The PRA also required OMB to oversee agency information
management actions, use of IT and related information policies. Subsequently, Congress passed
the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993, the Federal Acquisition
Streamlining Act of 1994 meant to make it easier for government to buy commercial products
and services, and its IT-focused successor, the Information Technology Management Reform
Act of 1996 (also known as the Clinger-Cohen Act). Together, these acts signaled a clear shift in
the focus of federal IT investment – moving from cost of operations to reducing burdens and
improving service delivery. In addition, government began to focus on IT as a source of
efficiency and effectiveness, rather than just being a cost of operating the government.

The Bush administration continued this trend, beginning with the creation of an Office of IT and
E-Government in 2001, developing a federal e-Government strategy in 2001, and negotiating the
E-Government Act of 2002. Signed on December 17, 2002 – precisely four years after the 1999
memorandum was issued – the E-Government Act endorsed the use of digital technologies to
transform government operations in order to improve effectiveness, efficiency, and service
delivery. The overall E-Government strategy has continued to evolve, yielding initiatives such as
the 25 “Quicksilver” projects with aims like establishing a government-wide e-Authentication
solution and building a portal for citizens to identify and request social services; the
implementation of a Federal Enterprise Architecture aimed at improving business processes,
data, and systems across agencies; and the identification of five “Lines of Business” to further
unify management and support functions across government (these were ultimately expanded to
a total of nine lines of business).35 Information security and protection of privacy controls was
another major thrust.

By 2008, at the close of the Bush administration, the cumulative result of these initiatives has
been the inclusion of strategic IT investment, management, and policymaking as a core
competency of federal government. The Bush administration’s E-Government initiative in
34
The White House. “Electronic Government.” December 17, 1999.
<http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/npr/library/direct/memos/elecgovrnmnt.html>
35
OMB, Lines of Business Update, FY 2009,
<http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2009/pdf/ap_cd_rom/9_9.pdf>

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

particular has created a government that is both more unified internally and more focused on
delivering services directly to the citizen, than ever before. The technology paradigm that
dominated government during these changes was consolidation of redundant and overlapping IT
projects, while focusing on automation to drive consistent quality and lower costs.

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

Appendix B:
Web 2.0 Implementation Challenges
While Web 2.0 tools have launched our governance into a new era of collaboration and citizen
engagement, many of our laws and policies have lagged behind and do not recognize these
advances. This outline represents a “look-ahead” at the issues that will be most relevant as
leaders in government try to reconcile these disparate circumstances.

While the list is based on extensive research and has been vetted by leaders throughout
government who are affiliated with the Collaboration Project, it is just a first step and will
continue to be refined as existing challenges are met and new ones arise. In recognition of this
reality, the Collaboration Project has posted this document, as well as a host of primary
documents such as government-produced white papers and relevant agency guidance and policy
– on its virtual space, http://www.collaborationproject.org. We invite experts in government, or
anyone with a knowledge of and passion for these issues, to log on and contribute relevant
comments or documents.

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

Acquisition and Procurement


Federal Procurement
• Can an agency simply decide to procure certain Web 2.0 services (i.e. Second Life,
Flickr,) or must they engage in a competitive bidding process?

• Does an agency’s need to sign gratuitous service agreements for ‘free applications’
complicate the procurement process for these technologies?

• Example: LOC has already signed agreements with iTunes, Flickr, and YouTube
which could serve as model templates for other agencies.

• Agencies are restricted from engaging in advertising for private individuals, firms, or
corporations. Will this limit the commercial Web 2.0 platforms they can procure?

Indemnification

• Under the Anti-Deficiency Act, federal contracts can only provide for limited
indemnification unless there is specific statutory authority to the contrary. But current
boilerplate legal language for commercially run platforms like Google and YouTube
contain unlimited liability clauses.

• Example: Veterans Affairs & Second Life-The Linden Lab contract specifies
unlimited liability, but VA can only agree to hold this company harmless within
certain legal limitations.

Legal Jurisdiction & Venue

• Since federal agencies are governed by federal law, Offices of General Counsel are
unwilling to sign contracts that bind them to state law. This has proven problematic for
Web 2.0 procurement because some vendors’ legal language defines legal jurisdiction
and venue in a specific state.

• Example: Veterans Affairs objects to My Space’s Disputes Clause because it


stipulates that disputes involving the company are subject to laws of the State of
California and the venue of Los Angeles.

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

Roles and Access


Roles

• Can employees use Web 2.0 tools to speak on behalf of their agency? Who is permitted
to blog for an agency?

• Example 1: GSA is presently drafting an internal blogging policy that addresses


who can blog and what clearances are needed.

• Example 2: LOC already has blogging policy, with different approval structures
for internal and external blogging

• Is there a need to develop a permission/governance structure indicating the roles played


by agency staff to interact officially on third party Websites?

Employee Access and Use of Social Media

• Is it acceptable to use Facebook and MySpace during work hours?

Disabled Accessibility / Section 508

• If an agency signs a service contract with a non-Section 508 compliant third party vendor,
how do you ensure equal access to information for disabled citizens?

• Section 508 stipulates that disabled federal employees must have access to and use of
information that is comparable to the access to and use of information available to non-
disabled federal employees. Would this pose a challenge to implementing some
internally used Web 2.0 tools?

• Disabled accessible technology like auto-captioning video software presents opportunity


for comprehensive government-wide solutions to Section 508 concerns.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

• The challenge of iterative media. How many versions of a document are subject to FOIA
requests?

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

Privacy and Security


Privacy

• A June 22, 2000 OMB Memorandum, M-00-13 (and subsequent Federal CIO Council
Clarification Request & OMB specifications letter,) prohibits federal Websites from
using persistent cookies unless a series of conditions are met. This is problematic since
many Web 2.0 technologies rely on cookies.

• Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): Following the massive
security breech at Veterans Affairs in May 2006 caused by a stolen laptop, there has been
a concerted effort across government to protect the privacy of government employees’
medical records. In the near future this might be a barrier to implementing Web 2.0 tools
that could better manager workers’ health care.

• Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)

Homeland Security, Law Enforcement, Counterterrorism

• Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)

• Smith-Mundt Act

• USA Patriot Act

IT Security

• Malware and spyware infiltrating government networks through employee use of Web
2.0 could compromise the security of both agency data and citizen personal information.

• Every technology platform implemented by government must first undergo a rigorous


security review, which seriously limits the number of technologies available for use.

• Relationship to Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

Other Management Statutes


The Paperwork Reduction Act, ‘Public Information Collection Activities’

• Does the federal government’s use of Web 2.0 tools to engage with the public trigger
OMB’s information collection requirements?

• Example: If managers of blogs like TSA’s Evolution of Security or DHS’


Leadership Journal wanted to use a survey tool, would they have to comply with
OMB’s guidance under PRA?

Records Management

• OMB Circular A-130

• Paragraph 7: Basic Considerations and Assumptions

• NARA regulations require federal agencies to have a comprehensive management


program for all their records. The unique nature of records created by interactive software
might require additional consideration.

• In 2006 NARA released ‘Implications of Recent Web Technologies for NARA


Web Guidance,’ which instructs agencies on how to continue managing content
created via Web 2.0 applications according to NARA’s pre-existing records
management regulations. Is this clarification sufficient?

• In the case of a wiki, should the collaborative process leading to the finished
product be treated as a record?

• Should comments to blog postings be managed as records?

• Current NARA Transfer Guidance assumes that the domain of a portal, Website, or
application determines which agency manages the content. But in collaborative situations
one agency may be hosting a wiki while another one assumes responsibility for the
content of the site. In this case, who has ownership?

Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA)

• Administered by GSA, FACA ensures that committees which include nonfederal


employees and advise federal agencies are objective and accessible to the public. But
online working groups (i.e. Communities of Practice) using collaborative tools might be
subject to numerous procedural regulations in order to comply with FACA.

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

Information Quality
Authenticity & Quality of Government Information
• How do you maintain authenticity, control, and credibility of information with
collaborative technologies?

• Does the use of government data by third-party mashup applications create an


information control or authenticity concern?

Relevancy of Government Information

• How do agencies stay relevant as an authoritative source of information about


their own operations?

ƒ What policies should be put in place so that citizens are encouraged to


look at government sources of information first, instead of turning to
Wikipedia, etc.

ƒ As more agencies launch YouTube channels, will the result be the creation
of a ‘government ghetto’ of information?

• In regards to information provision, what is appropriate role for government? Are


agencies best suited to be providers of raw data, or aggregator of multiple
information sources, or etc.

Risk Management

• Education & Training: How do we design a curriculum that educates both federal
employees and citizens about the concerns inherent in using new technologies in a
government context?

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

Appendix C:
Author and Panel Biographies
Authors
Frank DiGiammarino, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Business Development—
Frank DiGiammarino oversees business development and the creation and execution of special
initiatives at the National Academy that can deliver innovative approaches to addressing
government's management challenges. In addition, he oversees the National Academy's
government relations, outreach and communications efforts. Frank has previously served as a
Program Area Director and Director of the National Academy’s Executive Consortium. He has
also worked on National Academy studies of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with a specific
focus on field structure reorganization. Former positions include Director and DoD Practice Area
lead at Touchstone Consulting Group, General Manager and Director of Program Management at
Sapient Corporation, and Principle Consultant with the State and Local Practice at American
Management Systems.

Lena E. Trudeau, Program Area Director—Lena E. Trudeau oversees the National Academy’s
work with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of State
and the National Park Service. In addition, Ms. Trudeau directs the Collaboration Project, an
independent forum of leaders committed to leveraging Web 2.0 and the benefits of collaborative
technology to solve government’s complex problems. Ms. Trudeau’s previous roles include:
Vice President, The Ambit Group; Marketing Manager, Nokia Enterprise Solutions; Principal
Consultant, Touchstone Consulting Group; Consultant, Adventis Inc.; and Associate, Mitchell
Madison Group.

Mark Forman*—Partner, KPMG LLP, Risk Advisory Services. Former Founder and Executive
Vice President, Worldwide Services, Cassatt Corporation; Administrator for E-Government and
Information Technology, Executive Office of the President; Vice President, E-Business, Unisys
Corporation; Principal, IBM Global Solutions; Senior Professional Staff Member, Majority Staff,
Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, U.S. Senate.

John Kamensky*—Associate Partner, IBM Global Business Services; Senior Fellow, IBM
Center for the Business of Government. Former Deputy Director, National Partnership for
Reinventing Government; Assistant Director, U.S. Governmental Accountability Office; Staff,
Texas Constitutional Convention; Staff, Texas House of Representatives.

Daniel A. Munz, Senior Research Associate—Daniel A. Munz is the Project Manager of the
National Academy’s Collaboration Project initiative. He pas previously served as staff on
National Academy studies of the U.S. Department of Energy, Federal Bureau of Investigation,
and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Daniel’s Mr. Munz’s previous roles include: Director
of Internet Communications, Norman Siegel for Public Advocate. Politics and Elections Aide,
Citizens Union Foundation.

*Academy Fellow

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Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for the New Administration

Collaboration Project Advisory Panel


Greg Lashutka,* Chair—Senior Vice President for Corporate Relations, Nationwide. Former
Mayor and City Attorney, City of Columbus, Ohio; Partner, Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, L.L.P.;
Associate Attorney, Cameron & Cameron; Legislative Aide to U.S. Congressman Samuel
Devine; Law Clerk to Judge Richard B. Metcalf.

P.K. Agarwal*—Chief Technology Officer, State of California. Former Vice President, ACS;
Chief Information Officer, NIC, Inc.; Chief Information Officer, California Franchise Tax
Board; Chief, Information Services, California Department of General Services; Manager, Data
Base Development Bureau, California Department of Social Services; Technical Project
Manager, California Department of Health Services; Management Consultant, EDS Corporation.

William Eggers*—Global Director, Deloitte Research. Former Senior Fellow, Manhattan


Institute for Public Policy; Project Director, e-Texas; Manager, Texas Performance Review;
Chair, Government Reform Policy Committee, George W. Bush for President; Director,
Privatization and Government Reform, Reason Foundation; Analyst, East European and Russian
Economic Reform, Heritage Foundation.

Mark Forman*—See biography above.

John Kamensky*—See biography above.

Anne Laurent*—Consultant, Special Projects, Atlantic Media and Blog Founder, The Agile
Mind: Explorations in Virtual Government <http://theagilemind.blogspot.com>. Former
positions with Government Executive magazine: Executive Editor, Deputy Editor, Program
Manager of the Government Performance Project, Senior Correspondent. Former Senior Editor,
Associate Editor, Pentagon Correspondent, Congressional Correspondent, columnist at Federal
Times newspaper.

Franklin S. Reeder*—President, The Reeder Group. Former Director, Office of Administration,


The White House. Former positions with U.S. Office of Management and Budget: Deputy
Associate Director for Veterans Affairs and Personnel; Assistant Director for General
Management and Deputy Assistant Director; Chief, Deputy Chief, Information Policy Branch;
Policy Analyst; Chief, Systems Development Branch. Former Deputy Director, House
Information Systems, Committee Staff, Committee on House Administration, U.S. House of
Representatives. Former positions with U.S. Department of the Treasury and U.S. Department of
Defense focusing on information technology and systems.

*Academy Fellow

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