West (Coast) Wing: Washington needs a Silicon Valley office

Two articles today from O’Reilly Media’s Alex Howard (US CTO pitches open government, innovation and health IT to Silicon Valley) and Politico’s Tony Romm (D.C. crowd’s path to Silicon Valley) touch on how the Beltway is reaching out to Silicon Valley’s tech community. Howard’s pieces revolves around U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and Department of Health and Human Services CTO Todd Parks ‘DC to VC‘ visit to the San Francisco Bay Area, and Romm’s is more of a ‘Silicon Valley as political ATM’ angle.

As tech firms beef up Washington, DC, offices to strengthen relationships with federal agencies and legislators around sales, policy and legislative issues, it’s now time for Beltway insiders to be proactive and reciprocate the gesture.

The White House can host luncheons with tech CEOs and fly in for local tech events, but the only way it will grok Silicon Valley and its tech community is to connect in real life, understand what’s happening around technology and help translate that 3,000 miles east. As technology and social media become a mainstay in how government works, Washington would do well to open a West Coast office, soak up the culture, technology, innovation and help facilitate all this back to headquarters. With companies like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google (to name just a few) a stone’s throw from one another, there’s huge potential to bridge the The Great Gov 2.0 Cultural Divide.

‘West (Coast) Wing’ has a nice ring to it.

Luke Fretwell is the founder of the civic innovation and technology blog GovFresh. He advises civic leaders and businesses on how to best leverage digital strategies to create more effective, collaborative governments. He has written about government IT for Federal Computer Week, NextGov, FedScoop, StateScoop and FierceGovernment, and has been referenced by the Washington Post and Fast Company on civic technology issues. He has worked with a number of government-focused companies and media, including CivicActions, NuCivic and FedScoop and has been involved in broad-focused community efforts, such as GovPress, CityCamp, CivicMeet, Agile Government Leadership and Open Source for America. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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