Vivek Wadhwa has the right idea when he talks about the big contributions made by nerds and policy wonks working together in Washington and beyond.
Here's his bottom line, communicated separately, then more from the article:
This is about a program that Vivek Kundra and Aneesh Chopra have been working on at the White
House. I don’t think that people realize the significance of what they have achieved. In one fell swoop, they’ve done an end run around entrenched interests. They have empowered citizens
to fix problems that the government has no hope of fixing. There are important lessons in this
for other countries also.
Given the short tenure of government officials, lobbying by
entrenched government contractors, and slow pace of change in the
enterprise-computing world, I’m not optimistic that much will change –
even in the next decade. But there is hope on another front: the Open Government Initiative.
This provides entrepreneurs with the data and with the APIs they need to
solve problems themselves. They don’t need to wait for the government
to modernize its legacy systems; they can simply build their own apps.
The federal government’s open data initiative, data.gov, was launched exactly one year
ago with 47 datasets of government information, by Federal CIO, Vivek
Kundra. This has grown to more than 250,000 datasets. Hundreds of
applications have already been built to harness this information. A few
states and localities have also followed the lead, the most notable of
which is San Francisco