Hillary Clinton hires Google product manager for civic innovation and social impact as campaign CTO

In hiring Stephanie Hannon to be her campaign’s chief technology officer, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is not just bringing on a former Cisco software engineer with product management experience at Google and Facebook and time in the trenches at tech startups: she’s added a woman who’s deeply immersed in the civic technology movement and knowledgeable about open data. Just watch her talk at the 2014 Code for America Summit:

So, here’s the bad news: Hannon was a product manager for Gmail and Google Wave, so steel yourself for a lot of bad jokes in the days and months ahead in the media, given her new boss’ questionable choices about email as Secretary of State and Google Wave’s demise. While a B.A. and an M.S. in electrical engineering from Stanford and an MBA from Harvard will insulate her from the some of the lamer slings and arrows, get ready for unsubtle, tortured metaphors and misogyny in the comment sections.

Here’s the mixed news: Hannon’s focus on open data on Google appears to have been on standards, services and civic impact, not accountability and transparency. Take a look at her presentation, embedded below:

Given the record of the Obama administration, it remains to be seen whether Clinton will proactively adopt an ambitious agenda on open government if elected, from implementing and resource FOIA reforms, whistleblower support or nominating inspector generals for all federal agencies.

And here’s the good news: while political observers will (and should!) no doubt focus upon her ability to duplicate the success of Harper Reed, the CTO for Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign, Clinton just brought someone who’s tapped into what’s happening in the civic tech space into orbit. If that experience elevates those issues into the campaign and national conversation, it will stand to benefit everyone working towards improving civic life in America. If Clinton starts talking about “building better governance with the people, not for them” on the campaign trail, you’ll know something important has occurred.

[STAT] State Department employees made .004% of email sent in 2013 into public records


According to a new report from U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Inspector General, agency employees sent more than 1 billion emails, of which they made just 41,649 of them into public records.

That’s about 0.004% of them, by my rough calculation.

It’s a minuscule number, which probably why The Daily Beast ran a post reporting “only .00006% of State Department emails are preserved.”

While their calculation looks off by orders of magnitude, this tiny percentage still translates into members of the civil and foreign service entering almost none of their emails into archiving systems.

While the story hardly need it, this adds more interesting context to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s decision to designate roughly 50% of her personal email as public records.

As Sunlight Foundation policy director John Wonderlich commented in Politico, this IG report undermines her argument that her emails with State Department workers were preserved on their end.

“Her justification around FOIA requests and around preservation became that most of the documents were cc’d or sent to .gov or state.gov addresses used by employees and therefore were preserved and accessible to requests, ” said Wonderlich “This [report] suggests that is not reliable at all.”

For more, read Josh Gerstein report exploring the broader ramifcations of the watchdog report on Clinton’s defense at greater length.

Could Hillary Clinton’s email account galvanize Congress to pass FOIA reform?

IMG_1992It’d be swell if the flap over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s personal email account catalyzed the passage of Freedom of Information Act reform in Congress. Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, laid out a strong case in the Guardian today for why both sides of the aisle should support reform:

Instead of both parties competing over who can be more secretive, like they did in the 2012 presidential campaign, this is also a great opportunity for 2016 presidential candidates to debate about who can deliver the most transparent White House. That doesn’t mean just voluntarily releasing emails you want the public to see – though that’s a start – but implementing lasting policy changes and laws that will change the trajectory of US secrecy law, which has grown out of control in the past decade.

The challenge is that the interests that didn’t want that reform to happen, both inside and outside of government, aren’t going to go away, from the financial industry to government agencies.

As readers no doubt recall, FOIA reform bills passed the U.S. Senate and House *unanimously* last year and yet failed to become law.

The pushback is already (quietly) happening in Congress, as reported last week in E&E publishing:

“I think a number of the agencies are probably concerned. This is the impression that I get: They think that you shouldn’t have this presumption that things should be revealed. In other words, there should be more of a screening process,” [Representative Elijah] Cummings said. “It’s hard for them to just come outright and say, ‘No, we don’t like that, we’re not going to do it.’ But I get that impression that they don’t feel that people need to have access to every record.”

Asked whether he or other lawmakers have heard from agencies regarding his bill, Cummings said their concerns about FOIA are more subtly made to Congress.

“In general, in general. But I don’t think it’s a big push, but that’s just the impression I get,” said the ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

That doesn’t mean that reform won’t happen, or that it couldn’t be a political winner for members of both parties, particularly Republican Senators who aspire to higher office. This year, editorial boards are more outspoken on the issue and transparency could, once again, be a campaign issue. Here’s hoping that’s enough to lead to Congress enacting FOIA reform the country needs, not a watered down bill.

9 suggested follows for @HillaryClinton on Twitter

Hillary Clinton has joined Twitter. The former First Lady of the United States, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State joined the conversation with aplomb and humor, thanking the authors of a tumblr blog, “Txts from Hillary,” for inspiration and adopting the now iconic image of her aboard a military transport plane as her avatar. Her first — and to this point, only — tweet had been retweeted more than 6,200 times in five hours.

So far, Clinton is only following all-things-Clinton: former President Bill Clinton, their daughter, Chelsea Clinton, and the Clinton Foundation.

The Washington Post suggested 15 accounts for Clinton to follow, ranging from serious (the @VP’s office) to satiric (@AnthonyWeiner & @JustinBeiber.) With the exception of the @StateDept, the list is heavily focused upon U.S. domestic politics and the 2016 presidential election, a prospect that it seems many DC media outlets begin speculating about a few seconds after Mitt Romney walked away from his concession speech in Boston early on the morning of November 7th.

While the list is light-hearted, it’s also unnecessarily constrained in scope and perspective. Clinton spent four years traveling the earth, speaking to world leaders. Why not continue to keep that global reach on a platform that has, well, global reach?

While she could adopt social graphs of Beltway pundits and media, primarily following other DC media and politicians, this new account is an opportunity to do, well, a bit better. While former staffers Jared Cohen, Alec J. Ross, Ronan Farrow, Katie Dowd and Katie Stanton may be of assistance (and useful follows for her) in no particular order, here are 9 other accounts that would vastly improve future #TweetsFromHillary.

1) The White House

People interested in governance and Twitter tend to follow the @WhiteHouse. (Those who wish to be elected to it might benefit as well.) Under Macon Phillips, the White House director of digital, the White House account has taken some risks to become a platform for the President’s policies — and often, amplified back the voices of those Americans who support them. A safe following strategy would be to choose from the accounts the White House follows.

2) Anne Marie Slaughter

A former State Department official turned Princeton official, Slaughter is already well-known to Clinton from her tenure there. Her focus on foreign policy, women’s issues and international affairs is a valuable addition to any feed.

3) Emily Bell

The Director of the Tow Centre for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School is one of the sharpest observers of how technology is changing media and commentators on that shift.

4) Nick Kristof

The New York Times columnist, who calls himself a “print dinosaur, trying to evolve into a new media maven,” has adapted to social media better than any of the other writers on The Grey Lady’s opinion page, from Facebook to Google+ to Twitter. Kristof cuts through the noise, sharing news that matters, and listens to his global networks of connections far better than most.

5) danah boyd

People new to Twitter may find following at least one “social media expert” useful, for tips, nuance and criticism. There’s no one most deserving of that description than digital ethnographer danah boyd, though she’d never claim the title. (Be mindful that she may take a Twitter vacation this summer.)

6) Mark Knoller

If you don’t follow CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller, you’re missing a real-time history of the presidency.

7) Bill Gates

One of the world’s smartest men will (help) make you smarter if you follow him.

8) Blake Hounshell

The (former) managing editor at Foreign Policy has one of the best pulses on global events and what they mean on Twitter. He puts world news and events in context, or at least as much as one can in 140 characters. (While you’re at it, Secretary Clinton, set up a list to follow Andy Carvin (@acarvin) too. He tweets a lot but you’ll likely find that many of your former staffers follow him for good reason.)

9) Maria Popova

Everyone has a “desert island follow” or two. For many people, that might be Popova, who has a remarkable talent for finding and sharing interesting literature, art, science and more.

These are, naturally, just a starting point. In 2013, there are literally thousands of government officials, policy wonks, journalists and politicians who Clinton might find following valuable. (Who knows? Maybe she’ll even follow learn from P.J. Crowley.)

There are 66 verified world leaders on Twitter. While most don’t tweet themselves, Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves does personally, sometimes with an edge.

The easiest method may be for her to follow Twitter’s list.

If Clinton wants to make the most of the platform, she’ll do well to personally unfollow some feeds, find new voices, listen to her @replies and act like a human.