For seventy-seven days, from election day to inauguration day, the Obama-Biden Transition Project convened in a nondescript office building in northwest Washington, D.C. Most of the transition work involved sending expert volunteers into federal agencies to research and write briefing binders for the incoming department heads. In addition, seven policy teams—a kind of protocabinet—“set the table” for the incoming president’s first hundred days. In addition to Energy, Education, Health Care, Immigration, Foreign Policy, and Economy, there was a new kid on the policy block: Technology, Innovation, and Government Reform. We affectionately called ourselves the “TIGR” (think Winnie the Pooh) team.
President-elect Obama’s mandate for government reform was to create unprecedented openness and innovation in government. Rethinking governance for the twenty-first century was not incidental to the president’s agenda. In fact, Tech & Government was the original name of TIGR, and I was the group’s original member. On his first day in office, President Obama issued a “Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies” calling for the chief technology officer and the Office of Management and Budget to craft an Open Government Directive for greater transparency, participation, and collaboration in every agency.