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White House unveils digital plan

New manifesto concentrates on open data and accessible services

The Whitehouse has revealed its new digital plan. In a blog post, federal chief information officer Steven VanRoekel explained that the USA is "in the midst of another important shift in how people consume and deliver information and services", noting that more Americans will soon access the web via mobile than traditional PCs.

On May 23, President Obama issued a directive that charged VanRoekel with developing a strategy to "build a 21st Century Digital Government that delivers better digital services to the American people". At its core is an emphasis on openness, embracing web APIs, and ensuring data, information and services are accessible to all. "Treating the government as an open platform in this way encourages innovation," enthused VanRoekel. "Just look at how the government's release of GPS and weather data fuelled billion dollar industries. It also makes government more efficient and able to adapt to inevitable changes in technology."

Reaction from the web community has so far been positive. Designer and writer Stephanie Rieger told .net she thought the plan was good news: "The sentiment behind it reminds me of the hugely progressive gov.uk Digital Service Design Principles that were released earlier this year. I think the challenge going forward will be to successfully disseminate the goals and ideals behind the initiative so that it doesn't attract naysayers who see it as just another technology play. As history has proven, the most advanced and innovative technologies can easily fail if they lack buy-in on a more social, cultural and institutional level."

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