Part I: The Washington Post Giveth 

This morning I woke up to a Washington Post article featuring me (Peter Corbett) and a crew of DC tech innovators giving their thoughts on “Navigating the Crisis“. Of course, I love the article because it puts me, iStrategyLabs, and Apps for Democracy on the front page of the business section. My core message from that interview is this:

“Getting citizens involved with government projects saves local resources and generates business for start-ups. 

I’ll be working hard to make sure that very thing happens over the coming years. Even if iStrategyLabs didn’t benefit a penny, building this kind of public/private sector collaboration is something I’d be passionately pushing forward as a concerned and empowered citizen in a democracy that needs our help desperately. Thank you to Kim Hart for writing this article and for getting the word out about innovation in the capital region.

Part II: The Washington Post Taketh Away 

The very moment I was feeling really good about the Washington Post helping to get the word out about the above, Marc Fisher writes one of the most shortsighted, ill conceived articles I’ve seen in recent memory. His “Where’s Firing Fenty When you Need Him“, suggests that Vivek Kundra, CTO of DC be fired for a team leadership retreat. My comment on his article states my feelings on the matter:

“Marc, this is a terribly shortsighted article and I fear you’re doing Washington DC a huge disservice by taking such a myopic view on Vivek Kundura’s leadership style and approach to improving DC’s technology infrastructure.

It wouldn’t be fair for me to attack you, but I have a feeling you do [not] know what it takes to build and motivate a team – especially to do great/new things in government.

Vivek recently green-lighted the Apps for Democracy contest that produced $2,000,000+ in technology innovation value for a $50,000 outlay. That’s a 4000% ROI.

Would you rather have a CTO blowing millions on an old, slow, wasteful method of procuring technology? Or brainstorming with his team in the mountains somewhere figuring out how to save the district $1,950,000+.

I think you owe the citizens of DC a follow-up article with a more robust view of Vivek and OCTO’s achievements. As far as I’m concerned your ability to report and qualifications to do so are seriously in question. 

If you’re wondering exactly what influence Vivek has had globally and around the Apps for Democracy contest you can find that here:

http://delicious.com/corbett3000/%23apps08+posts

I wouldn’t normally write a comment like that, post about here on iStrategyLabs, and send a note to bunch of DC/MD/VA technologists, but Marc touched a nerve. If the Washington Post makes a suggestion like that, what does it do to DC.gov’s ability to take risks and promote innovation in government? Would Apps for Democracy have happened if Vivek Kundra and Mayor Fenty were fearful of public outcry over team building and approaching old problems with new solutions?

Does the Washington Post have a duty to report and investigate deeper than they did in this article? YES!

Maybe I was a bit harsh in calling into question Marc Fisher’s qualifications as a journalist – I’m sure he’s a great writer/reporter etc. For, my similarly uninformed and reactionary way of calling his credentials into question, I apologize. However, this was just a stinker of a piece and he owes the readers of The Washington Post a better report on what Vivek and OCTO are doing with the tech budget in DC. Please comment on that article if you feel this is important at all and/or comment here.  Your participation in this conversation is crutial to ensuring that a) the  media covers things more thoroughly and accurately and b) shody reporting doesn’t effect the healthy, growing culture of innovation in the District of Columbia.