Read all posts from July 2009

  • Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra held a live chat yesterday to answer your questions from Facebook and WhiteHouse.gov on technology, information, and transparancy. He discussed the new IT Dashboard, which enables everybody to look at how the government is spending money for information technology, and allows you to analyze and evaluate these investments. Macon Phillips, Director of White House New Media, moderated the discussion. Watch the complete discussion here.
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  • It wasn’t opening night at a smash hit on Broadway. And it wasn’t a swanky VIP reception with the First Family. But the guest list would have made you think it was just such an event, with representatives from institutions including Agnes Gund Foundation; Carnegie Hall; Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Museum of Modern Art, NYC; Guggenheim Museum, NYC; Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC; Museum of Modern Art, NYC; Center for Puppetry Arts, Atlanta; Museum of Science, Boston; Smithsonian Institution; Birmingham Museum of Art; Art Beyond Sight Institute/Art Education for the Blind; National Gallery of Art, DC; Indianapolis Museum of Art; Institute of Museum and Library Services; North Carolina Museum of Life and Science; American Association of Museums; National Endowment for the Arts; National Endowment for the Humanities; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Cincinnati Museum Center; and American Institute for Research. Instead, these legendary arts institutions came to the White House to discuss accessibility to their institutions for people with disabilities. Such is the influence of the President, who has repeatedly affirmed his commitment to ensuring the inclusion of Americans with disabilities throughout the fabric of our country. 
    Hosted by Social Secretary Desiree Rogers and the Office of Public Engagement, these major institutions came together to discuss how they have succeeded and how they can further improve and help others succeed in making arts institutions more accessible to people with disabilities. Ms. Rogers opened the meeting by explaining the White House’s commitment to accessibility and expressing the importance of art in the White House and how it is important both to broaden the type of art that is displayed in the White House and broaden the range of people who visit the building.
    Meeting on accesibility and the arts
    (Photo credit: Trenton Arthur)
    The meeting participants seemed to agree that no similar meeting in this industry had ever taken place at the White House. Significantly, the group expressed how simply bringing these institutions and groups together fostered discussion and idea generation on an unprecedented level. They discussed interpreting for the deaf, audio description for the blind, tactile maps and art work, and other mechanisms for making institutions accessible. Perhaps most importantly, the institutions engaged in discussions about developing a long-term permanent strategy for institutions to ensure accessibility. For example, they mentioned hiring or working with people with disabilities in their local communities to help develop accessibility plans.
    The group departed from the meeting determined to keep the discussion alive in hopes of increasing accessibility for all Americans. Indeed, they plan to create an on-line dialog about these critical issues. 

    Kareem Dale is Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy.

  • Today, the White House publicly disclosed its Annual Report to Congress on White House Staff. 

    Since 1995, the White House has been required to deliver a report to Congress listing the title and salary of every White House Office employee.  Consistent with President Obama's commitment to transparency, this report is being publicly disclosed on our website as it is transmitted to Congress.  In addition, this report also contains the title and salary details of administration officials who work at the Office of Policy Development, including the Domestic Policy Council and the National Economic Council -- along with White House Office employees.

    You can download the report as a pdf, or view the searchable table below:

    You can view the results in our disclosure section

  • Cross-posted from the Department of Agriculture's new Rural Tour Blog.

    The President announced yesterday that I will be leading the Administration's rural tour, which will be visiting rural communities across the country over the coming weeks and months. At each event I will try to provide information about how the USDA and the Obama Administration are affecting the lives of rural Americans.

    And just as importantly, I want to listen to the thoughts, concerns and stories about each community’s vision for its future. We will collect ideas about how the USDA could be better serving these communities.

    To help people across the country follow our progress on the Rural Tour, we are launching a new Rural Tour Web site to chronicle the sights, stories and activities of all the communities we visit over the course of the tour. The site will include a blog, videos and photos, RSS feeds, and other interactive tools so that folks across the country can participate by sharing stories and providing feedback about how the efforts of the USDA and the Obama Administration are making a difference in strengthening America’s rural communities. For those that want to follow the tour, we will be twittering live from our Rural Tour events and also sharing news and information along the way.

    We hope to see you at one of our stops or hear from you on our Web site!

    Tom Vilsack is the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

    Ed. Addition: White House photos of Vice President Biden kicking off the Rural Tour.  He was joined today by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski and Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper in annoucning the availability of $4 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act loans and grants to help bring broadband service to un-served and underserved communities across America.

    Vice President Biden kicks off the rural tour
    (Vice President Joe Biden speaks at an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act event on broadband investments in Erie, Pennsylvania, Wednesday, July 1, 2009.  The Vice President announced the availability of $4 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act loans and grants to help bring broadband service to un-served and underserved communities across America. Official White House Photo by David Lienemann.)
     
    Vice President Biden kicks off the rural tour
    (Vice President Joe Biden answers a question from the audience at an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act event on broadband investments in Erie, Pennsylvania, Wednesday, July 1, 2009.  The Vice President announced the availability of $4 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act loans and grants to help bring broadband service to un-served and underserved communities across America. Official White House Photo by David Lienemann.)

  • On Saturday the President posted a video asking for your questions on health care reform. In just a few days, we’ve gotten hundreds of submissions. The questions spanned the ideological spectrum, and ranged from heart-breaking and personal to almost wonkishly policy-focused.
    Today’s the day where the President will get to answer some of the best submissions. 
    But even if you didn't get a chance to submit a video question, the opportunities to participate have just begun.  Watch, discuss, and engage through our Facebook live-stream chat application, watch and drop us comments at WhiteHouse.gov/live, or take part in the conversation on Twitter using hashtag #WHHCQ. 
    The event will begin around 1:15 EDT [UPDATE: This Event Has Now Concluded]

    We'll not only be monitoring all of those conversations closely during the event and looking for ways to incorporate your feedback into the conversation, but following up after the event in the coming days to get to as many questions as possible from the ones the President couldn't get to, and to address follow-up questions to his answers there.

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