During an agenda speech Monday, President Barack Obama admitted he couldn't have been elected without the help of social media.
Recalling a 2007 visit to Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California, he explained how he used technology to "bring the campaign to more people, and let them determine its course and nature." By connecting with more citizens and sharing their stories, he said, his 2008 presidential campaign became one of the most successful in history.
Throughout his first term, he found ways to innovate using big data sets "to create jobs and solve problems that government can't solve by itself or can't do as efficiently." That meant establishing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to investigate credit card complaints and help 9 million people find the nearest hospital.
Now for his second term, Obama is asking entrepreneurs to keep that momentum going. Several members of his cabinet have private sector experience, including Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, who's held positions at the Gates Foundation and the Wal-Mart foundation, as well as the new class of Presidential Innovation Fellows.
Over the next few six to 13 months, those fellows will help the government solve various problems, from streamlining federal benefits application processes to cutting down on federal bureaucracy. One such example is the MyUSA (formerly known as MyGov) project, which stores information for government forms and enables citizens to track them in real time. "These are things that are in the pipeline right now," said Obama.
The president also mentioned his hopes for reforming the government's contracting system -- not a bad idea since the Small Business Administration found small business contracting fell short of its goal for the 12th consecutive year in a row.
Obama closed his speech by saying America is "full of talented, dedicated public servants," but unlike the presidents of yore, he can only do so much when it comes to reorganizing the government, and the executive branch in particular. Much like a cash-strapped business owner, he doesn't have the capacity to "keep up with the times," so he's doing what he can administratively in the hopes that Congress sees he's working under "severe fiscal restraints."
He concluded his speech by calling the private sector to action: "... we've got the potential to do so much better than we're doing right now, but we're going to need the help of the private sector, the non-for-profits. Most of all, we want to make sure that we're empowering some of the folks who are sitting here today to make sure that they can deliver on the kind of 21st century government the American people want."