06/06/2010 02:29 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Getting real improving government, an update

I was at the Personal democracy Forum where I heard a lot of people talk about serious progress in online grassroots democracy and fixing gov't, particularly in Washington. (Check for some reports.)

A lot's happening that the mainstream media never covers, so here's something big from PdF, a few things from Aneesh Chopra, the Chief Technology Officer for America.

He points out that over the last year or so, we're seeing the emergence of serious efforts to provide better customer service to citizens, and to save money for higher priorities.

Dr. David Van Sickle, for example, demonstrated "Asthmapolis," a data
platform to help patients and public health professionals track the
geography of asthma attacks by attaching a real-time sensor to an
inhaler that records the time and location of its use. Empowered by this
information, patients may be able to avoid asthma hotspots and reduce
costly hospital visits through prevention.

By posting all information about government spending on technology
contracts in an easy-to-visualize format, US Chief Information Officer
Vivek Kundra is empowering citizens to hold their government accountable
for how taxpayer dollars are spent. Launched in June 2009, the "IT
Dashboard" has spurred greater oversight of IT spending at agencies like
the VA, where Secretary Shinseki and CIO Roger Baker ordered the review
of all 282 major IT projects, resulting in the stoppage or slowdown of
approximately two-thirds of them and the ability to re-allocate $300
million dollars in this fiscal year to address higher priorities such as
reducing the disability benefits backlog.

Many small efforts combine big.

I spent time with a lot of Republicans and Democrats at PdF, and there was a lot of excitement about this kind of thing, from the staffers on up.