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Obama pushes government technology upgrade

By Tom Cohen, CNN
July 8, 2013 -- Updated 1713 GMT (0113 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • President Obama announces 43 new innovation fellows to improve government efficiency
  • White House budget director will oversee the effort
  • Obama also calls on his Cabinet to come up with better technology management strategies
  • One idea would track federal benefit applicants like a package being delivered

Washington (CNN) -- The Obama administration has selected 43 more technology specialists as Presidential Innovation Fellows to help the government devise new ways to operate better and save money, President Barack Obama announced Monday.

The new fellows follow an initial group of 18 chosen last year who came up with ways to digitize disaster recovery efforts, make more government data available to the public for free, and eliminate duplication while speeding up the adoption of new technology by government agencies, Obama told a White House event attended by most of his Cabinet.

Citing what he called a 21st century government still mired in some ways in 20th century technology, the president also challenged his Cabinet to develop aggressive management strategies to upgrade systems and operations.

"We've found ways to deliver the services that citizens expect in smarter, faster and better ways," Obama said of first term successes, citing improved methods of processing disaster claims through mobile apps and saving $2.5 billion by eliminating duplication and waste when upgrading government technology."

"It makes sense for us to be able to redesign government so it can deliver on the functions the American people are looking for," he said.

For example, he mentioned one idea "in the pipeline" that would allow people filing for federal benefits to track the status of their application "just like you can follow the location of a package all the way to your doorstep."

Obama said Sylvia Matthews Burwell, director of the Office of Management and Budget, would oversee the effort, which he said would extend to the general public to become more involved in helping improve government.

"In this democracy, we the people recognize that this government belongs to us, and it's up to each of us and every one of us to make it work better," he said. "We can't just stand on the sidelines. We can't take comfort in just being cynical. We all have a stake in government success because the government is us."

CNN's Lesa Jansen contributed to this report.

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