Gov 2.0 Expo: Live Blogging #1

Session #1 -- "Introduction to Government Social Publishing with Drupal"

Kieran Lal (Acquia), Jason Hoekstra (Department of Education), Kirsten Burgard (Office of Information and Technology), Dennis Sutch (US Department of Commerce), Tim Wood (, Neil Sroka (
Brief background on Drupal, social publishing and government use of social media technologies.

Kieran Lal handed out a free drupal beta code, whoot!

Drupal is the intersection of Content management systems and social software tools.

Open Data Mash-ups and semantic web.

I missed some content due to installing my new drupal beta account: (nothing is there yet)

Challenges to social publishing:
(Neil) -- PRA, Cookie Policy, Security and social publishing, Hosting, Budget and Cultural challenges.


Tim and Dennis briefed out their new site, which is using Drupal as it's main CM/Social Publishing platform.  New site was conceived after the Open Government memo and put into production. Great example of rapid development and deployment of a new technology.  Dennis, "We could give an employee the drupal stack and have them up and running within an hour."

Neil -- one of the issues for public comments, we need to have a records schedule.  We are not sure if we can delete spam comments so we have not yet deleted them.  State department has recently had a schedule approved and commerce is looking to duplicate that schedule.  State Department just secured a records schedule for social media.

Neil -- There are no longer technological barriers to making big change within government.  Technology is robust and can support almost any mission.  We are cognizant that just because a new tool exists does not mean the culture will change.  This is a step in the right direction.

Neil -- We are using twitter, facebook, etc as a megaphone to drive them back to our site.  The next step for us is to change the policy and processes to allow for a two way dialogue.  One issue is that we have polices and procedures that dictate who is allowed to communicate with the public.  We are required by the federal government that our websites are the official and authentic source.  We must have control over our data.  How do we balance the requirement of authentic sources with the chance to interact with citizens?  We are still figuring this out.

Jason Hoekstra -- ED.GOV new site: -- Grant Applications will launch on June 1st.  Initial purpose is to open up the grant making process and the data collected around grant making.  Have relied a lot on druple modules from the community. 

Open Atrium -- VA's Kristen Burgard:

Open Atrium is designed to get information out more quickly, to move away from paper based processes and is incredibly easy to facilitate collaboration. 

Google Groups of US Government Drupal Organization used to collaborate, share code, ideas, and best practices. Government users only, no contractors. VA may be hosting a drupal coding session (training) for government users only.

Q&A: What are the differentiators between Drupal, Word Press, etc?

Kieran -- they scale well but the biggest differentiators in drupal are the security roles and permissions.

Kristen -- we are looking to replace the VA CMS with new software.  We currently use a proprietary software that cannot handle our load.  Drupal has kicked everyone else to the curb.

Neil -- The largest reason we chose druapl is because everyone else starting doing it and we got the trickle down benefits.

Kieran -- Acquia has gone through C&A process. 

Niel -- The hosting costs are expensive but the C&A expenses are more expensive.

Earlier you had mentioned are you handling it?

PrivacyWonk Question: How are you handling PII on your sites?  Are you engaging or just trying to stay away?

Jason: At education we follow policies for PII.  We're trying to come up with a new porivacy policy so we don't have to repeat.

Niel -- in terms of PII, if we can avoid PII it at all we're trying to.

Kieran -- every step of the way, we've had groups punch through and just get the sites up.  Get information out, if that means no PII, so be it.