David Almacy now of Edleman Public Relations as Senior Vice President for Digital Affairs and formerly White House Internet and E Communications Office Director of Media Affairs for President Bush, spoke with me about the White House’s claim that the website the Obama team received was archaic and out-of-date. This simply was not true. As part of the “smoothest transition in history”, President Bush had a brand new website ready for whichever new administration took office.
Evidently, it wasn’t good enough for the Obama team and they used more taxpayer money to recreate another website even though the website was new in January, 2009. David says at his personal blog Capital Gig:
Many stories have reported that President Obama’s team inherited an “old proprietary CMS which has been used by WhiteHouse.gov since the Bush Administration” built and executed by GDIT. However, that isn’t true. As I mentioned earlier, President Bush’s website, CMS Tool and all, was taken offline at 12:00 PM ET on January 20, 2009, President Obama’s Inauguration Day, and ultimately sent to NARA.
President George W. Bush is the first digital president, meaning that he is the first to have his entire presidency captured online via WhiteHouse.gov in the form of transcripts, photos, video and audio. However, Web 2.0 and social media was just gearing up around the time I left the White House in May 2007.
Clearly, the campaign had a huge impact on the growth of the Internet through social media and rapid programming advancements (WordPress 2.8.5 is now available already? I just upgraded to 2.8.4 two weeks ago!) but many of the tools that are being used today either weren’t available to us or hadn’t been tested or matured to the point that we could utilize them effectively within the E-Gov guidelines, privacy policies, security procedures and budgetary limitations that often presented challenges.
My bigger question as a taxpayer is how much did all this new-fangled stuff the President came up with cost? This administration acts as though they’re spending their own money. It seems that they forget that taxpayers have to pay for all their tech indulgences. But then, their tech solutions don’t feel like government solutions. They feel like Obama solutions–that is, the purpose to help put Obama in a good light not connect people with the office of the Presidency.