Open Government Initiative Blog

  • Apps4 Africa: State Department Driving Collaboration through Competition

    In July 2009, President Obama addressed Ghana’s parliament, saying, “Africa’s future is up to Africans.”  That future, in part, will depend on developing infrastructure, building the capacity of civil society and educational institutions, stamping out corruption, and ensuring access to capital for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). These are all complex challenges that will require complex solutions. However, it is increasingly clear that technology, entrepreneurship and innovation will be part of the solution. On a continent where there is 25 percent electricity penetration but 37 percent mobile penetration, connection technologies are lowering the cost and increasing the effectiveness of everything from election monitoring to securing a loan to organizing civic action.   

    More and more, Africans are behind some of the most effective digital tools for driving social change and economic inclusion. Ushahidi, a Kenyan crisis response platform, was used by the U.S. government and the United Nations for emergency response purposes in Haiti; and M-Pesa, Kenya’s mobile money platform, is among the most successful in the world. There are now physical spaces where new ideas live, in the form of tech incubators and co-working spaces, including the Hive Colab in Uganda, the iHub in Kenya, and Limbe Labs in Cameroon with similar spaces set to open in the near future.

  • President Obama and Vice President Biden’s Daily Public Schedules Now Online

    Starting today, the President and the Vice President’s daily public schedules are now available online. You don’t have to come to to find out what the President and Vice President are up to each day – you can subscribe to their schedules via RSS or even add their schedules to your own Outlook, iCal, Google calendar, or any other calendar service that’s compatible with an iCal feed.  Just click here to download the iCal feed and add it to your calendar today.  Your calendar will be automatically updated as new events are added to the President and Vice President’s schedule.

  • Federal Register 2.0

    Cross posted from the AOTUS blog.

    Today, we are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Federal Register Act by launching Federal Register 2.0.  In a special event in the Rotunda of the National Archives, I was joined by the Public Printer of the United States and distinguished guests from regulatory agencies and the open government community to introduce the web 2.0 version of the daily Federal Register.

  • SME Finance Challenge: G-20 Prize Seeks Scalable Solutions for Small Businesses

    President Obama recently joined with our partners in the G-20 to launch the G20 SME Finance Challenge to uncover the most promising and scalable means of financing small businesses. Last week, Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs Lael Brainard explained the critical role of small businesses as engines of job creation and called on the private sector to identify new finance models to help them grow. Private financial institutions, private investors and companies, socially responsible investors, foundations, and civil society organizations can submit solutions through August 25th.  Up to 15 winners will be invited to the November 2010 G-20 Summit in Korea to be recognized for their innovative ideas.  In addition, the G-20 has committed to mobilizing funding to scale them up.

    To learn more, check out The SME Finance Challenge: Supporting Small Businesses as Big Engines of Growth over on the White House blog.

  • Closing the Tech Gap

    What if senior management in an Agency – or anyone in the public – could identify and monitor the performance of IT projects just as easily as they could monitor the stock market or baseball scores?  That’s what the IT dashboard does  -- and it’s changing the way government does business.

  • New Apps Have Been Dreamed Up, Now You Choose the Best One

    The moment of truth has come. In March, the First Lady challenged the talented and kid-savvy innovators across the country to build games and tools that inspire and empower kids and their parents to get active and eat healthy. Over the past four months, hundreds of students, developers, and entrepreneurs have dreamed up new ideas, teamed up with their peers in game jams across the country, and toiled to build something really special—something that will move the needle on childhood obesity.

    Now, it is your turn to weigh in. Test the tools. Take a video game or two out for a test drive. See which ones get you hooked and get you moving. Watch the kids in your life love ‘em or leave ‘em. Spread the word—share your favorites with your friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, or MySpace. You can find all 95 of the final entries online.

    And, of course, don’t forget to vote. Public voting begins today and is open until noon on August 14th. Your top picks will take home the $4,500 Popular Choice award and be honored at a White House event in September.

    The Apps for Healthy Kids all-star panel of judges will be reviewing submissions alongside you this summer, to select a Grand Prize Winner, Runner Up, Honorable Mention, and GE Healthymagination Student Awards for both the “Tool” and “Game” categories.

    Learn more about the full $60,000 in prizes and judging criteria at

    Amanda Eamich is Director of Web Communications at the U.S. Department of Agriculture