Transparency remains an issue for the Obama administration, writes Christopher Dorobek in this month's Incoming column, Contract Transparency Poised to Open Up, Dorobek observes that one of the biggest challenges the administration has faced in executing programs through the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed earlier this year has been in oversight of the funds. Dorobek invites "debate, discussion, examination and solutions" on these challenges.
We are now nine months into the Obama administration. During that time, some answers have emerged to the many issues that have popped up, but nearly as many questions remain. One lingering question involves defining transparency.
What does it mean to be a leader?
At our core, we innately understand that leadership matters. I recently searched the book catalog on Amazon.com for books about leadership, and it probably will not surprise anyone that my search came up with 348,433 hits. So on one level, we understand it—leadership is important.
As Christopher Dorobek notes in this month's Incoming column, the role for federal CIOs is changing. There's been a lot of conversation about culture needing to change to get out of this "two-point-NO" mindset that many CIOs have. Our question for you is how does that change happen? How can we shape the culture so that government IT leaders can say "yes" to technology more often?
Dorobek makes an excellent point when he says that e-mail really did revolutionize the way we communicate, but hasn't done much toward the effort to collaborate. But since we've gotten in the habit of using e-mail to collaborate, for lack of better tools in the '90s, we're still using e-mail to collaborate even though better tools are out there.
Many of us remember when we first got an e-mail account. If you were anything like me, you received a personal e-mail address and then later an AOL account—well before you had e-mail access at work. In a way, it was a very early indication of the world to come, where the consumer market truly leads the enterprise market. Today, most people will admit that they can do much more on their home computers than they can on their “clunky machines” at work.
... And Incoming author Christopher Dorobek would like you to know why in his May column. It's more than a buzzword, he writes: "No person can overestimate the complexities involved in implementing government transparency. It is a dramatic shift in the way we think about information, particularly in government."
It currently is difficult to make it through a day in government circles without somebody talking about transparency. It was an ongoing theme in then-Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, and it was conspicuously the first executive order signed by President Obama on January 21. But the word is something akin to a Rorschach test—everybody sees transparency very differently. Each person has very different ways of defining what transparency means and how it can be implemented.
I know it seems like an almost silly question, but go ahead—just try to make it through the day without using the ubiquitous search engine. Or, even try to make it through the day without using it in speech—“Googling something.” My guess is it would be fairly difficult. Google has become the way to find information. But it also is arguably the fastest growing company in the world. Are there lessons that government can learn from the search giant?