Read all posts from March 2011

  • Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This week, President Obama focused on the situation in Libya, monitoring conditions on the ground and keeping Congress and the American people informed as the mission transitions from U.S. to NATO command. Education month also continued, with the President making stops at a multicultural high school in Washington, D.C., and dropping in on a science fair in New York City.

    Download Video: mp4 (150MB)

  • Yesterday, President Obama delivered an address at Georgetown University about securing America’s energy future and announced a new goal of reducing our imports of oil by one-third in a little over a decade. The White House also released Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future (pdf) – which outlines the comprehensive national energy policy that this Administration has pursued since day one, and which we will build upon to secure our energy future.

    Now we want to hear from you. In the latest edition of the Advise the Advisor series, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu asks for your feedback on how we can meet the President’s goal of reducing our oil imports by one-third in a little over a decade. Check out his video and answer these questions at WhiteHouse.gov/Advise:

    • President Obama has set a goal of reducing the amount of oil we import from the rest of the world by one third over the next decade. What suggestions do you have for reaching that goal?
    • As we work to reduce our demand for foreign oil, how should the Administration strike the right balance between increasing domestic energy production and reducing energy waste?

    Tell us what you think.

  • Cross-posted from HealthCare.gov.

    If you or a loved one has ever had the unfortunate experience of having a chronic or serious illness, you’ve experienced the frustration of our fragmented health care system. Just when you are feeling your worst, there you are in the doctor’s office or hospital room, repeating the same information time and time again, sitting through the same medical test more than once, and trying to track down lost or unavailable medical charts. These are all aspects of our current health care system we could each do without.

    This can be a particular problem for the more than half of Medicare beneficiaries with five or more chronic conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, and kidney disease. These patients often receive care from multiple physicians and in multiple sites. A failure to coordinate care can lead to patients not getting the care they need or receiving duplicative care. This lack of coordination also increases their risk of suffering medical errors, such as receiving prescriptions for medications that ought not to be taken together. It can also cause complications that lead to needless hospital stays. Nearly one in five Medicare patients discharged from the hospital is readmitted within 30 days – a readmission many patients could have avoided if their care outside of the hospital had been better coordinated.

  • We launched the IT Dashboard and the TechStat Accountability Sessions to improve IT transparency and accountability across the Federal Government. The Dashboard has helped us shine a light on IT projects, providing performance data to fuel TechStat reviews, which have led to over $3 billion in cost reductions.

    Today we are releasing the software code of the IT Dashboard and the TechStat toolkit to the public for two reasons.  First, to take the platform to the next level, we want to tap into the collective talents and ingenuity of the American people, to enhance functionality, improve the code and address existing challenges such as those identified by David Powner and his team at GAO.  Second, CIOs from across the country and around the world such as Maarten Hillenaar of the Netherlands, Kyle Schafer in West Virginia  and Jason DeHaan of the City of Chicago are all interested in implementing these platforms in their respective organizations.

    The IT Dashboard has helped the Federal Government to better manage its IT investments, and now that its code is freely available— through a format known as ‘open source’— it can help any organization do the same. Software developers will be able to collaborate, identify errors, develop enhancements, and recommend improvements to the Dashboard, and find new uses for it that we have not even imagined.  The TechStat Toolkit provides a comprehensive guide for organizations to establish their own TechStats to improve line-of-sight between project teams and senior executives, increase the precision of ongoing measurement of IT program health, and boost the quality and timing of interventions to keep projects on track.

    Opening up the inner workings of the Dashboard by releasing the code and the TechStat toolkit is only a first step. We recognize that the Federal Government does not have a monopoly on the best ideas, which is why we are working with organizations such as Civic Commons to help share technology for the public good and are asking the public for continuous input to help us improve how we manage taxpayer dollars.
     
    If you have ideas, recommendations or other contributions to the IT Dashboard, we urge you to join the discussion here. To access and download source code for the IT Dashboard and the TechStat toolkit, please visit www.cio.gov/tools.

    Vivek Kundra is the U.S. Chief Information Officer

  • Editor’s Note: The TEACH initiative is a national teacher recruitment campaign run by the Office of the Secretary in the Department of Education.  TEACH is dedicated to recruiting the next generation of teachers and enhancing the status of the teaching profession.  In February, TEACH went to Los Angeles to the Roybal Learning Center for a town hall with Secretary Duncan and a panel of celebrities and teachers to answer students’ questions about education and to encourage them to pursue teaching.  Natalie Bizarro served on the panel.  She is a native Angelino who works for the LA's BEST After School Enrichment Program and is on her way to becoming a teacher.

    In my community, success does not come easily. Like many of my friends, it has taken me 8 years now to complete my Bachelor’s degree, and I have another two remaining before I’ll earn my teaching credential. I know that all my work and effort will be worth it in the end when I finally fulfill my dream of becoming a teacher. The teaching profession is a noble one that I don’t walk into with rose colored glasses. I know the hardships I may face in the classroom, but how can one find their true passion and ignore it? Even if it takes me another 4 years I know in the end I’ll be doing something that I love.

  • White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, Preeta Bansal, General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor in the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, and Shine Editor Lylah Alphonse hosted a live discussion about women in the workplace, education and work-life balance. The discussion included the findings of the recent White House report, “Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being”, as well as resources including grant opportunities from the Office of Women's Business Ownership.

    Check out the full video or skip to the questions you're interested in by using the links below:

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    “Today, my Administration is releasing a Blueprint for A Secure Energy Future that outlines the comprehensive national energy policy we’ve pursued since the day I took office.  And here at Georgetown, I’d like to talk in broad strokes about how we will secure that future."
    -- President Obama, March 30, 2011

    Rising prices at the pump affect everybody – workers and farmers; truck drivers and restaurant owners.  Businesses see it impact their bottom line.  Families feel the pinch when they fill up their tank.  For Americans already struggling to get by, it makes life that much harder.  Demand for oil in countries like China and India is only growing, and the price of oil will continue to rise with it. That’s why we need to make ourselves more secure and control our energy future by harnessing all of the resources that we have available and embracing a diverse energy portfolio.

  • President Barack Obama drops by the New York City Science Fair

    President Barack Obama drops by the New York City Science Fair at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, N.Y., March 29, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    During his trip to New York City yesterday, and between interviews with three network news anchors and a speech dedicating a new building to late-Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown, President Obama made an unexpected detour.  The President dropped in on the New York City Science Fair—a venue that pretty much sums up the meaning of “win the future."  And the reason why?  “Whenever I get a chance to go to a science fair, I go," the President said.

  • Today at 5:05 EDT, White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, and Preeta Bansal, General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor in the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, will join Shine for a discussion about women in the workplace, education and work-life balance.

    Watch for the discussion at 5:05pm ET on whitehouse.gov/live, and add to the conversation on facebook.

  • The White House Easter Egg Roll is now less than one month away! Each week brings new exciting information and opportunities related to this year’s event.

    On Monday, the official 2011 White House Easter Egg Roll logo and souvenir eggs were announced. The logo features a jumping Easter Bunny, representing this year’s theme Get Up and Go!, in support of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative to raise a healthier generation of kids.

    This year’s eggs come in the pastel colors purple, pink, green, and yellow. The eggs are handmade in the United States from wood that is harvested using strict environmentally friendly practices. Each egg will feature a stamp of the logo, and the signatures of both the President and First Lady. The souvenir eggs can be purchased online through the National Parks Foundation.

    Eggs for the 2011 Easter Egg Roll photographed on the South Lawn of the White House

    Eggs for the 2011 Easter Egg Roll photographed on the South Lawn March 24, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    Finally, there are only 5 days left to enter the 2011 White House Easter Egg Roll Poster Contest. This contest is open to local Elementary and Middle School students in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. The winning artist will have the opportunity to bring their whole class to this year’s Easter Egg Roll. The submission deadline is Monday, April 4th at 11:59 pm EDT. You can learn more about the contest here.

    Here’s an example of just one of the many great submissions we’ve received so far:

    Caroline Easter Egg Roll Art

    2011 Easter Egg Roll poster contest submission by Caroline, age 10.

    The Easter Egg Roll has been an important White House tradition for over one-hundred and twenty years, and has grown to become the largest event held at the White House each year. This year’s Egg Roll will be attended by visitors from every corner of the United States, who will travel great distances for their visit to the People’s House. Bringing members of the public in for the Easter Egg Roll is just one important way that we’re working to make this the most open and accessible White House ever.

    26 days and counting! Time to start getting excited!

  • En español.

    Earlier this month I had the great opportunity to address the national meeting of the American Student Association of Community Colleges (ASACC) in Washington, DC.  ASACC’s student members are America’s future leaders, and they were in Washington to help spread the word about community colleges among policymakers and their elected representatives.  Their energy and enthusiasm were infectious. Community colleges are an important part of America’s higher education system, and they are also where a majority of Latinos and other minorities who are traditionally underserved by higher education are now reaching for a college degree in ever-greater numbers.

    At the Department of Education, we know that community colleges play an important role in strengthening the American workforce, which is why we recently launched a series of Regional Community College Summits.  However, community colleges are just one part of America’s education system, and under the dynamic leadership of Secretary Duncan, we are transforming the face of all American education.

  • On March 11, 2011, President Obama directed the Department of the Interior (DOI) to determine the acreage of public lands (onshore and offshore) that have been leased to oil and gas companies and remain undeveloped, noting that companies should be encouraged to produce energy from leases that they are holding. Today, the results are in

    The report reaches several important conclusions: first, although the Department of Interior has made available significant acreage for resource development over the past two years, substantial acreage has not been leased by industry. Secondly, there are tens of millions of acres that are currently under lease that remain idle. Because these areas are not undergoing exploration, development, or production, taxpayers are not getting the full advantage of America’s resource potential. When it comes to onshore oil and gas development, nearly 57 percent of all leased acres are inactive – meaning they are neither being explored nor developed.  In total, 22 million leased onshore acres – acres already in the hands of oil and gas companies – are not being used. That’s roughly the size of Indiana.

  • Ed. Note: This was originally posted on the Department of Energy blog.

    As part of the Obama Administration's Startup America Initiative,Secretary Chu announced a new program today, called "America's Next Top Energy Innovator," to reduce the cost and paperwork for start-up companies to purchase the Department’s many thousand unlicensed patents and start bringing more of these new energy technologies to the U.S. marketplace. "Our goal is simple,” said Secretary Chu, "unleash America’s innovation machine and win the global race for the clean energy jobs of the future."

    NREL Lithium Ion Conductor

    National Renewable Energy Laboratory scientists found multiple uses for thin film lithium ion conductors - for batteries and for solar cells. (by National Renewable Energy Laboratory)

    Starting on Monday, May 2, entrepreneurs will be able to apply for any of these patents by submitting a business plan for how they propose to use them. Best of all, within the scope of this challenge, a portfolio of up to three patents will cost an upfront fee of just $1,000 --  a total savings of $10,000 - $50,000.

  • En español.

    President Obama participated in an historical town hall event focused on education and the Latino community this morning at Bell Multicultural High School, a dual-language school situated in the heart of the Hispanic community in Columbia Heights in the nation’s capitol.  It’s a school 66 percent Hispanic, 37 percent English language learners and where 90 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced lunch. Hosted by Univision, this community conversation gave the President a chance to talk directly to Hispanic students, parents and their teachers about the importance of education in the rapidly growing Latino community and the country as a whole.

    President Barack Obama with moderator Jorge Ramos at a Town Hall Meeting Hosted by Univision

    President Barack Obama, with moderator Jorge Ramos, left, addresses a town hall meeting hosted by Univision at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington, D.C., March 28. 2011. Ramos is a news anchor and Univision. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    In his State of the Union address the President laid out his vision for how America can win the future—we need to out-educate, out-innovate, and out-build the rest of the world.  He has also challenged us to have the best-educated workforce in the world by having the highest proportion of college graduates of any country by 2020.  The U.S. used to be number one, as recently as 2000.  We’re now ninth in the world.

  • One of the greatest challenges facing our country is the coming retirement of more than 1 million baby-boomer teachers. This challenge has presented us with a once in a lifetime opportunity to help reshape education in America by recruiting and training the next generation of great American teachers.

    Teaching is a rewarding and challenging profession where you can make a lasting impact. Teachers have a positive influence on students, schools, and communities, now and into the future. Schools across the nation are in need of a diverse set of talented teachers, especially in our big cities and rural areas, and especially in the areas of Math, Science, Technology, Special Education, and English Language Learning.

    That’s why the department launched the TEACH campaign -- a bold new initiative to inspire and empower the most talented and dedicated Americans to become teachers. We know that next to parental support, there is nothing more important to a child’s education than the quality of his or her teachers.

  • Some recent comments in the press have attempted to paint a picture that an agreement on energy issues signed during the President’s trip to Brazil shows a lack of commitment to domestic oil and gas production. Let’s be clear – this administration is committed to developing a broad range of energy sources, and we know that high prices at the pump are forcing Americans to make tough choices. That is why we continue to take steps that, over the long run, will save Americans money at the pump and lessen our reliance on foreign oil. We stand by our desire to be a strategic partner of Brazil on energy issues, but when it comes to domestic production our record speaks for itself, and regardless what some would like to claim, that record makes clear that we are fully committed to developing domestic resources safely, responsibly, and efficiently. 

    It has been less than a year since the largest oil spill in U.S. history. In that time, this Administration has worked aggressively to implement unprecedented new safety and environmental standards that build on the lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Contrary to misleading claims, production has continued. Following the development of important new standards, the Department of the Interior (DOI) has worked with industry to ensure they meet the standards, and as a result has to date issued 39 permits for new shallow water wells.  In February, oil companies were finally able to develop the first deepwater containment systems – designed to contain spills if the worst happens, as it did in the case of the Deepwater Horizon. Based on that ability – evaluated on a case-by-case, permit-by-permit basis –since February 28th, DOI has issued six deepwater drilling permits. Each permit needed to comply with all of the new standards, including demonstrating that they could contain an underwater oil spill like the one that released 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico just last year.

  • The President issued the following statement this afternoon:

    Michelle and I were saddened to learn about the passing of Geraldine Ferraro. Geraldine will forever be remembered as a trailblazer who broke down barriers for women, and Americans of all backgrounds and walks of life. Whether it was as a public school teacher, assistant district attorney, Member of Congress, or candidate for Vice President, Geraldine fought to uphold America's founding ideals of equality, justice, and opportunity for all.  And as our Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission, she stood up for those ideals around the world. Sasha and Malia will grow up in a more equal America because of the life Geraldine Ferraro chose to live. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her husband, John Zaccaro, her children and grandchildren, and their entire family.

  • The President says that thanks to our men and women in uniform, the military mission in Libya is succeeding even as responsibility is transferred to our NATO allies and partners.

    Read the transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

  • Download video

    In the video-taped remarks, President Obama sent an important and very clear message today to President Alassane Ouattara, Laurent Gbagbo, and the people of Cote d’Ivoire:  the United States recognizes President Ouattara as the rightful leader of Cote d’Ivoire and calls on Laurent Gbagbo to step aside in the best interests of the country and its people.  Cote d’Ivoire should—and can—be one of Africa’s success stories, with a thriving economy, a rich history, and a vibrant democracy.

    President Obama has been focused on the situation in Cote d’Ivoire for some time.  During his town hall with young African leaders at the White House last August, he spoke with a young Ivoirian participant and said that “Africa’s future also belongs to societies that protect the rights of all its people, especially its women."  He declared that “the United States of America will stand with you as you seek justice and progress and human rights and dignity of all people.”  That statement is even more important today as the violence against unarmed civilians has increased, raising fears that the country could descend into civil war.  President Obama has strongly condemned the continuing acts of violence against unarmed civilians, particularly women, and calls on all leaders to reject violence.

  • Your quick look at the week that was on WhiteHouse.gov

    Protecting Civilians in Libya: As U.S. forces participate in a U.N. coalition to establish a no-fly zone over Libya, President Obama spoke on the humanitarian importance of our mission in North Africa. He also answered questions from the media during press conferences in Chile and El Salvador.

    President Obama Confers With Tom Donilon, Bill Daley, and Ben Rhodes

    President Barack Obama confers with National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, right, Chief of Staff Bill Daley, left, and Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, following a conference call on Libya with his national security team, in San Salvador, El Salvador, March 23, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    The Affordable Care Act Turns One: On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In the 12 months since, millions of Americans have benefited from improvements to the American health care system. WhiteHouse.gov had a whole week of coverage:

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