Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New Presidential Website

Barrack Obama became the nation's 44th. President of the United States at noon yesterday before the eyes of probably almost the entire world. In the Wall Street Journal he was courted as "calling for a new era of responsibility."

Today's his first day at THE OFFICE --- Now 26 hours old

…Nobody said this would be easy or all fun. Mr. Obama said in his inaugural address that, "Our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests & putting off unpleasant decisions – that time has surely passed….. We must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin the work of remaking America."

In keeping with that and his theme that "a time for change has happened," at almost the same instant the new president was being sworn in, a new administration re-launched the Presidential website. We call your attention to it this afternoon, if you haven’t already seen it. ( White )

It's not your typical law firm, government, or library-type site -- not that that's not good.

CNN relates "the new design includes more interactive features, a prominent photo gallery, access to e-mail alerts, and a blog. The site's 'briefing room' includes places for weekly video addresses, slide shows, presidential proclamations & executive orders, and news about nominations and appointments."

The site's "contact us page" sports the new administration's commitment to creating the most open and accessible administration in American history; News Media Director Macon Phillips, writing in their blog's initial entry, stated that the new President's online efforts will center on communication, transparency & participation.

Admittedly, there may still be a lot of "bugs" that still need to be worked out, but the site has lots of promise according to an article by Newseek’s Kurt Soller. One plan the White House has is posting non-emergency legislation for a couple days for public feedback before the President signs it. Another is letting online readers suggest their own priorities they think the Government should address, then allowing other readers to comment on them.

"To succeed," Soller writes, "the site will have to roll out features slowly, combining the best of social networking with the new administration's presumably limited manpower to moderate or read in-boxes bulging with e-mail. It will be interesting to see how many resources the President will put into the digital realm, but online media consultants agree the framework is there to accomplish it." on Monday explored a lot of other obstacles and nuances facing the new "wannabe tech-savy" administration, not the least of which, Soller adds, may come from the Presidential Records Act, which requires all written communications be preserved. Says Mr. Soller, "We won't even try to guess how many gigabytes of data Obama's site might add to that record… but at least there'll be some new jobs at the National Archives."

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Social Security Administration's Online Retirement Application

The Social Security Administration – in part envisaging the prospect of having some 80 million baby boomers becoming eligible for retirement in the not-too-distant future at the rate of some 10,000 a day for the next 20 years -- yesterday introduced another new service that will allow applying for retirement benefits online.

An Associated Press article, this morning, relates that the SSA has had versions of some applications available online since 2000, but that they had still required applicants to mail or deliver documents with signatures, copies of birth certificates, or W-2 forms to regional offices. In the future most cases are expected to be completely paperless.

Now, one can determine, apply for, and get estimates of what benefits one might be eligible for, and get a wealth of other information from SSA’s recently re-designed web site @ .

Disability benefits can also be applied for online.

Last Summer, its "Retirement Estimator," the highest rated online application in government, was introduced by the Social Security Administration.