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Where content meets technology

Feb 25, 2009

The Significance of Recovery.gov on Drupal

Last week, I read Dries's announcement about the recovery.gov site running on Drupal. I also though that was pretty cool but not worth a blog post. Instead I just cataloged it as an interesting Drupal site. Last night my friend Gregor Rothfuss sent me a link that helped me realize what a big deal this is.

When I dismissed the news, I wasn't thinking about how wasteful government is when dealing with all things technical. Several years ago, I did a project for the Department of Defense as a sub-sub-contractor. After weeks of meetings and general non-productivity, the net result was to replace a horrible looking and un-useful departmental website with a very small static HTML website (that we knew would never be updated). Of course, this was all cloaked in grandiose language of knowledge management and eGovernment. It was pretty clear throughout the project that the contractors wanted to milk this thing for all that they could. The project left me feeling pretty lousy as a tax payer. But, I figured things could be worse. Websites don't kill people - this one didn't anyway.

Flash forward to present day and the Obama transition team... I can just imagine the disruption of technologies like Drupal are having within the government. But the biggest change to the status quo might not just the technology is free (as in liberty and beer). This could be an opportunity to look past the old guard of consultancies (like Boeing, United Technologies, and SAIC) that are draining public coffers because they know how to play the game. Hopefully the game has changed so that new ideas and energy can help drive the infrastructure of the government towards greater efficiency.