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By Ed O'Keefe

The Obama administration launched a seven-day "high tech roundtable" today to solicit ideas from IT professionals, government contractors, federal employees and other concerned citizens with ideas on how to build and operate, the economic stimulus-tracking Web site. will collect the ideas between today and May 3. Users can submit their ideas with detailed descriptions and then others can vote on the best ideas submitted.

"Leading IT businesses, thought leaders, developers and consumers, please join the discussion. You could directly influence how is built and implemented," Earl Devaney, chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (RAT), says in the site's welcome video (watch above). The site is operated by the RAT Board and the National Academy of Public Administration.

"We're looking for honest opinions," he says later. "If you think something is off-target or won't work, feel free to give it a low rating and comment."

So far, users have suggested that the government use Google
Earth and webcams to track the progress
of recovery-funded projects, or build a nationwide map on the site that allows users to zoom in on projects. Someone else (wisely) suggests that the government define terms including "recovery," "mismanagement" and "transparency" with sixth-grade, high school and college-level definitions.

Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee supports this week's efforts, but has raised concerned that some genuinely useful, if technically-detailed suggestions might get lost in the shuffle once the RAT Board starts reviewing suggestions.

"This review process should be led by someone within the Administration with a well respected background in information technology and with a track record for successfully
implementing complex IT architectures within tight timeframes," Towns wrote in a letter today to Recovery Czar Ed DeSeve. Whoever leads the effort should also have direct management of the necessary databases or other technologies, ensuring they are functional, accessible and frequently updated, Towns wrote.

While the White House has not yet signaled who will lead the day-to-day operations of, Devaney and DeSeve -- both career public servants and academics with little admitted technical background -- will lead the site's early development.

The National Dialogue Web site will continue to solicit ideas through May 3. Check The Federal Eye each afternoon this week for some of the newest, best suggestions.

By Ed O'Keefe  | April 27, 2009; 6:45 PM ET
Categories:  What Would You Do?  
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