New ways to connect with the government under the Obama administration

by David Spark on January 24, 2009

NOTE: If you’re looking for the top ten issues for the Obama administration, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Our new President is taking advantage of all the technology at his fingertips. Here’s a roundup of all the online ways you can track the 44th President’s administration and all the goings on in our Federal government.

  1. Watch Obama’s weekly Presidential address. Make sure you click on the up arrow in the lower right hand corner to get close captioning and the video in high quality high def. You can also subscribe to The White House YouTube channel to be alerted when the next video is ready.
  2. In an effort to enable transparency in the government, Obama’s administration is launching so people can see how and where taxpayer dollars are being spent. Nothing there now. Guess we’ll see something soon once the administration starts spending money.
  3. There’s a White House blog. Unfortunately, it’s not a true blog in that there’s no way to leave comments. Probably a wise move.
  4. You can also access the blog from The White House Briefing Room which is also where you can read proclamations, executive orders, appointments, and nominations.
  5. Get involved in a service project in your community. is the Obama adminstration’s site for people who want to put a call out to volunteers for a project or for volunteers to find a project in their area they’re passionate about. I did a search in the San Francisco Bay Area and found tons of volunteer projects.
  6. Follow alerts on Twitter. None of these are official feeds, but they might as well be. Here are some accounts to start following:
  • @BarackObama – He has the most followed Twitter account, and he finally started making some posts since he was elected, but none since he’s been sworn in as President. Let’s hope we see some more alerts from this account.
  • @TheWhiteHouse – Twitter feed from The White House. While they currently have more than 1500 updates, they haven’t taken the time to upload a user icon.
  • @NationalDebt – The National Debt. Want a daily reminder about our growing $10.6 trillion dollar debt?
  • @USSupremeCourt – Get alerts and links to every decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • @SenateFloor – Get alerts and links to every vote on the Senate floor.
  • @HouseFloor – Get alerts and links to every vote on the House floor.

What I hope to see

There are a lot of things that Obama’s team did during the campaign that I hope will transfer into his administration. We want to see him mobilize the huge number of volunteer supporters, but also I’d like to see him bring over some of the tools he made available on the site. One such feature is called the Citizen’s Briefing Book and it allows you to throw out any idea you have for the government. And then using Digg-like voting, the community decides whether it’s a good idea or a bad idea. The site still shows he’s “President-Elect Obama” but take a look on the current top voted issues. I was quite surprised.

  1. Ending Marijuana Prohibition
  2. Commit to becoming the “Greenest” country in the world.
  3. Stop using federal resources to undermine states’ medicinal marijuana laws
  4. Bullet Trains & Light Rail
  5. Revoke the George W. Bush tax cuts for the top 1 %.
  6. Revoke the Tax Exempt Status of the Church of Scientology
  7. Bring Back the Constitution!
  8. Boost America’s Economy with Legal Online Poker
  9. Increase MPG requirements now!
  10. Honesty and Transparency

There are other non-official sites as well, but if you’ve discovered some other way to track the administration that you think is valuable, please add it in the comments. Thanks.

This news item is for the Spark Minute week of 1/26/09 which can be heard daily on Green 960 and 910 KNEW in San Francisco, CA.

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