Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Washington state near top in U.S. home Internet use

by November 15th, 2011

Washington state is outranked only by New Hampshire and Utah in percentage of households that are connected to the Internet, according to a new report from the U.S. Commerce Department titled, “Exploring The Digital Nation: Computer and Internet Use At Home.” Washington also ranked fourth highest among 43 states for which information was available on rural household broadband penetration. Nationally, home Internet penetration in the U.S. – the lion’s share now coming via broadband services such as cable modem and DSL – is up from 19 percent in 1997 to 71 percent in 2010. However, it varies by income, age and race, as well as geography.

Almost 80 percent of Washington homes have Internet
Drawing on the U.S. Census Bureau’s October 2010 Current Population Survey, the report finds 76.7 percent of Washington state’s households are connected to the Internet through broadband services (primarily cable modem and DSL) and another three percent use dial-up, for a total of 79.7 percent wired to the Net. Washington’s household Internet connectivity rate is exceeded only by that of New Hampshire (77.8 percent with broadband plus 3.2 percent with dial-up for a total of 81 percent) and Utah (79.7 percent broadband plus 2.6 percent dial-up, for 82.3 percent).

Audit: state could save millions by reducing snail mail

by November 2nd, 2011

A performance audit released Tuesday says four large State of Washington agencies that were examined spent almost $10 million dollars last year for un-required bulk mailings. The report from Washington State Auditor Brian Sonntag’s office stops short of saying all the questioned mailings shouldn’t have been done, noting that there are times when for the sake of customer preferences, or because of limited access to technology for some stakeholders, when agencies may determine snail mail is the best option. Nonetheless, the audit said, state government has begun to find ways to save taxpayer funds by handling more business without postal service, and needs to step up such efforts further.

U.S. Military contracts flowing to Washington state this week

by October 6th, 2011

Four U.S. military contracts with companies based in Washington state have been announced so far this week by the Department of Defense. Three of the firms are in Central Puget Sound, in Bellevue, Issaquah and Bothell, and another is in Richland. The four contracts have an aggregate value of up to $53.9 million. Excerpts from DOD daily announcements follow, with additional information.

Oct. 5, 2011. “Spacelabs Medical, Inc., Issaquah, Wash. was issued a modification exercising the second option year on the current contract. Award is a fixed-price with economic price adjustment contract with a maximum $13,460,681 for patient monitoring systems, subsystems, accessories, consumables and training. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies. The date of performance completion is Oct. 7, 2012. The Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting (entity).” Contract #: SPM2D1-09-D-8351/P00007. (Oct. 5, 2011 contract announcements; Spacelabs Medical, past U.S. military contracts).

Oct. 4, 2011. “Sealaska Constructors, L.L.C., Bellevue, Wash., was awarded a $10,894,289 firm-fixed-price contract. The award will provide for the repair services of the ventilation and mechanical environmental systems in the Aircraft Corrosion Control Hangar, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. Work will be performed in Abilene, Texas, with an estimated completion date of Dec. 14, 2012. One bid was solicited, with one bid received. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth, Texas, is the contracting (agency).” Contract #: W9126G-11-C-0084. (Oct. 4, 2011 contract announcements; Sealaska Constructors, past U.S. military contracts).

Oct. 4, 2011. “RC Engineering & Construction Management, Richland, Wash., was awarded a $20,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract. The award will provide for the engineering support services for the Walla Walla District, Corps of Engineers. Work will be performed in Richland, Wash., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 28, 2016. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with seven bids received. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla, Wash., is the contracting (agency).” Contract #: W912EF-11-D-0013. (Oct. 4, 2011 contract announcements.)

October 3, 2011. Philips Medical Systems, Bothell, Wash., “was awarded a $9,626,500 time-and-material contract. The award will provide for the maintenance services for biomedical equipment for the Army. Work location will be determined with each task order, with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2016. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with two bids received. The Center for Health Care Contracting, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, is the contracting (agency).” Contract #: W81K04-11-D-0016. (Oct. 3, 2011 contract announcements ; Philips Medical Systems, Bothell, Wash. past U.S. military contracts.)

Public Data Ferret Military Contracting archive

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Lately, In Transparency – #2

by July 8th, 2011

To complement the work at Public Data Ferret hub, we’re using the Ferret’s Twitter account to accent news highlights from the world of government transparency, freedom of the press and human rights. Here are some of the most recent finds, for June 28 through July 7, 2011.

The British government releases a trove of data in their new transparency initiative for a more open government. Via The Guardian.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota will launch the Open Government Partnership, a “new, multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.” Via the US State Department.

A 164-page report by UN Women is filled with research to support recommendations for eliminating the global gender inequality. The Christian Science Monitor summarizes the report’s 10 key recommendations. In additional UN-related news, UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay voiced skepticism on the world’s financial commitment to human rights: “It (funding for UN’s human rights system) is reportedly about the same amount as Australians spend on Easter eggs. It is about the same as the cost of three F-16 jet-fighters. It is one 50th of the 2010 cinema box office revenues in the United States; and the amount Europeans spent on their pets in 2010 alone (Euros 56.8 billion) would fund the entire UN human rights system, including my office, for something like 250 years.”

Public Data Ferret intern Kyle Kim reports how the benefits of Washington State’s initiative for greener buildings are unclear.

Highlighting concerns about concentration of media ownership, critics are voicing sharp criticism over the British government’s approval for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp to acquire British Sky Broadcasting, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

Politico reported the U.S. Army’s $2.7 billion cloud computing system has hurt more than it has helped the war efforts in Afhganistan and Iraq due to malfunction.

Washington Post:”Radiohead takes tentative step into censored Chinese cyberspace, launches Twitter-like page”

The Texas Watchdog has created a video on how to use open government laws to learn more about education-related issues.

A Texas law is requiring state agencies to post high-value data sets online. The aim is to improve government transparency and civic engagement. Via the Texas Tribune.

Tens of thousands of questions in the form of tweets were sent to President Obama in the Twitter Town Halll event, making him the first president in history to live tweet.

Public Data Ferret intern Melissa Steffan reports how the Washington State legislative audit committee found the state paid $399 million in government negligence, or tort claims from 2004 through 2010.

The White House launched an “engage” page in an attempt to encourage civic dialogue and participation. In the same week, the top White House salaries were released.

The Sunlight Foundation, a government transparency and accountability proponent, reports on how the public has been left out of the American debt ceiling discussion. The organization also covered how two reporters were arrested in a Washington D.C. public meeting.

The Associated Press is to open bureau in North Korea. Via Poynter.

Google’s Transparency Report reveals the U.S government made 54 content removal requests to the company in the second half of 2010.

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Legislative audit: benefits of Washington state’s green buildings not clear

by July 7th, 2011

SUMMARY: The benefits of Washington state’s push for environmentally friendlier public buildings remain unclear, according to a legislative report. The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee’s High Performance Public Buildings report revealed they could not completely assess the program because state agencies and some school districts are failing to report information as required by law. Where a full year’s performance data was available by the reporting deadline, most high-performance buildings exceeded their estimated energy usage due to factors such as changes in design or equipment, difficulties in operating “new and complex energy technology,” greater than anticipated after-hours use of the buildings, and energy wasting by occupants such as covering vents. The committee recommended more time to measure performance and better agency compliance on submitting energy performance data.

FAA’s air traffic upgrade plan: “fire, ready, aim”

by June 22nd, 2011

SUMMARY: A June 15 U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) report found that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has no clearly defined goals for implementing its proposed Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). NextGen relies largely upon a redesigned System Wide Information Management (SWIM) program, which will improve the quality of air traffic communications, according to the report. However, SWIM is still in the development stages even though it was scheduled to begin as early as 2009.