James Dixon’s Blog

James Dixon’s thoughts on commercial open source and open source business intelligence

The media and public not ready for Obama transparency

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If the Obama administration is going to be serious about raising the level of transparency at the federal level I think they have some challenges. One challenge might be that the the media and the public can’t handle it. Take the reaction to Melissa Hathaway’s recent speech:

On Feb 9th Melissa Hathaway was given the role of Cybersecurity Chief and instructed to perform a 60 day review of all existing federal cybersecurity projects and strategies.

On April 22nd she presented an summary of the review at the RSA conference recently. I thought the points in her speech were very good:

  • Private sector, education, public sector, government, and military all rely on shared digital infrastructure for communications. That infrastructure is primarily owned and operated by the private sector.
  • Security of the digital infrastructure is strategic to the US
  • The federal government has a fundamental responsibility to address strategic vulnerabilities .
  • No single agency has a broad enough perspective to address these challenges.
  • The US government cannot address any strategic issues if they act alone.
  • Governments and private sector in multiple countries must work together and much research and development is needed.
  • This is a long term initiative that the federal government is not well-structured to handle.
  • The full report is going under review and will be released shortly.

You can watch or read the speech.

Note that she was not presenting the report, just an update of the progress. My summary of her summary is that the initial conclusions high-level but well-balanced and rational, and that there is a lot more to do.

The reaction to her speech? Pieces like Hathaway Speech Lacks Substance by Tom Field, and Obama Cyber-Security Czar Melissa Hathaway Says Little on Federal Strategy by Hilton Collins. These people either don’t understand transparency, don’t want it, or can’t handle it.

My fear is that this administration, in the name of increasing transparency, will release information as it is available -> They will get slammed by the media for releasing statements that ‘lack substance’ -> They will become motivated to delay announcements until there is more substance -> Tansparency will be lowered back to where it was.

Written by James

April 28, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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