“One of the things that makes America so strong is our spirit of innovation. Our drive to invent and harness new technologies to tackle our greatest challenges. It’s how we won the race to invent the lightbulb and the Internet; it’s why we were first to the Moon and Mars. It’s why I keep models of American inventions like the telegraph in the Oval Office. It’s a daily reminder of the genius that’s embedded in our DNA; the way we’ve always shaped the future through our ideas and discoveries,” the President said at the start of his weekly address.
The President noted that the constant stream of new apps, tools, and data have brought about a new era encompassing the payment of bills, travelling as well as smarter ways to combat climate change.
“That’s why, next week, I’ll travel to Austin, Texas, to visit South by Southwest. It’s an annual gathering of some of our most creative thinkers, coders, makers, and entrepreneurs from across the country. And while I’m there, I’m going to ask everyone for ideas and technologies that can help update our government and our democracy to be as modern and dynamic as America itself,” he said.
The President further noted that technology played a significant role in his 2008 campaign and proffered that it can bring people together and help them engage as citizens in their own communities. He said he wants to apply that experience to the federal government.
He posited that good progress has been made with respect to the use of technology as it applies to government. He said over the past few years, for example, his administration has done something that government never done that is inviting some of the sharpest minds from companies in Silicon Valley and across the country to come and help modernize the federal government for the way people live today.
“And they came ready to serve, tackling some of our biggest challenges – like high-tech special ops units.”
He explained that these teams are partnering with the government’s existing policy and technical experts to re-imagine the way government does business and deliver services that work better and cost less.
“Already, we’ve made it easier for students to find the college that’s right for them. For immigrants to track the green card and naturalization process online. For veterans to access their medical records. And yes, after an initial false start, we’ve made it much easier for tens of millions of Americans to compare and buy health insurance and the peace of mind that goes with it,” the President declared.
He further said, “That’s what this is all about – making sure our government of the people and by the people works better for the people in the 21st century. It’s about Americans working together to make a real difference in people’s lives. Because the easiest thing to do is to blame government for our problems. Some people have made a career out of that. But our founders trusted us with the keys to this system of self-government because it’s the best tool we’ve got to settle our differences and solve our collective challenges. And it’s only as good as we make it.”
The President concluded he is going to Austin and South by Southwest – to keep asking everyone from all walks of life, working inside or outside of government, to help his administration make this democracy even stronger.
Davy Desmond, Readers Bureau, Fellow
Edited by Jesus Chan
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