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Citizen's Briefing Book

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Citizen's Briefing Book
Citizen's Briefing Book cover.jpg
Author Obama-Biden Transition Team, from Internet recommendations
Country United States
Language English
Subject Recommendations for President Barack Obama
Publisher Obama administration
Publication date
May 11, 2009
Pages 33

Citizen's Briefing Book is a compilation book of recommendations made to President Barack Obama by visitors to the website, given to the President after his January 20, 2009 inauguration. Internet users were able to post recommendations of changes they would like to see made in the United States, and they were also able to vote on other users' recommendations, as well as participate in a comment process.

The Minnesota-based company called Reside helped develop the functionality, using technology from Co-chair of the Obama-Biden Transition Team, Valerie Jarrett, stated that the Citizen's Briefing Book was a way for the Obama transition process to remain open and transparent. Popular recommendations included ending the prohibition on marijuana use in the United States and the legalization of online poker. Citizen's Briefing Book received positive comments from writers for the Christian Science Monitor and Business Week, and criticism from writers for Chicago Tribune and Indianapolis Business Journal.

Comment process

Citizen's Briefing Book is a work of suggestions by individuals compiled into a book format and submitted to President Barack Obama after his inauguration on January 20, 2009.[1] Internet users originally posted their suggestions at,[2] with the plan that after Barack Obama was sworn in as President the website hosting the recommendations would direct users to[3][4] The option to participate in the request for comment format was open until January 20, 2009, where users were able to post suggestions to the President, read others' recommendations, and comment on each other's ideas.[5][6] Users voted on individual recommendations with an up or down vote for each suggestion.[7]

The web function was developed for the Obama transition team by the Minnesota-based company called Reside,[5] and utilizes technology from[8][9] Co-chair of the Obama-Biden Transition Team, Valerie Jarret, stated: "The Citizen's Briefing Book will come directly from the American people. It is yet another way that we will ensure that this transition is the most open and transparent one in history."[10] Members of Obama's transition team interacted with users and responded to the voting.[11] Beth Noveck, a law professor at NYU Law School and a member of the Obama Administration's "Technology, Innovation and Government Reform Team", stated that the book would help the government "get the best ideas for the beginning of the administration".[12]

Top recommendations

File:Most popular vote for change.jpg
Most popular vote on
(January 20, 2009)

According to the site the best-rated ideas would "rise to the top" of the list, to later be given to the President.[13] As of January 17, 2009 the most popular suggestion, with 70,520 points, advocated ending the prohibition on marijuana use in the United States.[14] By January 19, 2009, over 500,000 people had voted on thousands of suggestions posted by 70,000 individuals.[15][16] In total over 44,000 suggestions were submitted,[17] with over 1.4 million votes cast for the various recommendations.[18][19]

Other popular ideas included legalizing online poker in the United States,[20] and focusing on green initiatives.[21] One post suggested the administration investigate UFOs, and another suggested Obama hire entertainment personalities including Michael Moore, Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, and Stephen Colbert.[22] After voting had closed, the most popular suggestion with 92,000 votes was "Ending marijuana prohibition", and the third most popular: "Stop using federal resources to undermine states' medicinal marijuana laws."[23] A representative for President Obama, Jen Psaki, told Reuters: "President Obama does not support the legalization of marijuana."[23]


File:The President Introduces the Office of Public Engagement.ogv
President Barack Obama discussing the Citizen's Briefing Book
(May 11, 2009)

The Obama Administration released the Citizen's Briefing Book to the public on May 11, 2009, the same day that President Obama announced the renaming of the White House Office of Public Liaison to the Office of Public Engagement.[24] "Many of the ideas you offer, from improving light rail transit to modernizing our energy grid to creating a new service corps, have been embraced by my administration," said President Obama in a video released along with the briefing book.[25]


Writing for the Christian Science Monitor, David Peck described the initiative as part of "a good foundation" of reaching out to individuals.[26] Douglas MacMillan of Business Week noted that the Obama transition site "won praise for its clean look and Citizen's Briefing Book feature".[27] Joel Hood of the Chicago Tribune highlighted some of the more eccentric suggestions posted, commenting: "As if President Barack Obama doesn't have enough on his plate, he's about to hear the voice of the people, in all its eccentric glory."[22]

Morton Marcus commented in the Indianapolis Business Journal: "I see the virtue of being open to the public’s concern. I cannot imagine that the president will give attention to issues based on their popularity."[28] In noting that the first and third-most popular items voted upon involved the legalization of marijuana, Andy Sullivan of Reuters commented on President Obama's efforts to solicit opinions from citizens on legislation: "That approach can deliver unexpected results."[23]

See also


  1. Griggs, Brandon (January 15, 2009). "Obama poised to be first 'wired' president". CNN. Retrieved 2009-01-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Gordon, Rose (January 13, 2009). "Outreach is key for Obama's transition". PR Week. Retrieved 2009-01-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Paul, Ian (January 20, 2009). "Obama's Top 5 Tech Tools". PC World. Retrieved 2009-01-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Cacas, Max (January 20, 2009). "Inauguration spells change for". Federal News Radio. Retrieved 2009-01-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 Haugen, Dan (January 14, 2009). "Local Web firm Reside helps develop Obama idea portal". MinnPost. Retrieved 2009-01-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Agence France-Presse staff (January 21, 2009). "Obama gives White House site online overhaul". Agence France-Presse. Retrieved 2009-01-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. McCoy, Adrian (January 28, 2009). "Instant message: Quick revamp of White House Web site follows promise of more transparency". Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Retrieved 2009-01-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. McElhatton, Noelle (January 16, 2009). "Obama site adopts CRM software to facilitate citizen feedback". Brand Republic. Haymarket Media. Retrieved 2009-01-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. McNevin, Greg (January 19, 2009). "Obama Transition Team Picks Salesforce for Citizen Idea Site". Image and Data Manager. Retrieved 2009-01-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. CIOL Bureau (January 19, 2008). "Obama team goes online with Salesforce: web site provides open forum for American people to present their ideas to the President-elect and cabinet". CIOL. CyberMedia India Online Ltd. Retrieved 2009-01-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Grindley, Lucas (January 19, 2009). "Obama White House Will Be Test Of Transparency: Turning The White House Into A Glass House Could Prove Harder Than Some Believe, But Rewards Would Run Both Ways". National Journal. Retrieved 2009-01-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Government Technology staff (January 22, 2009). "New Federal Government Team Focuses on Innovation and IT". Government Technology. Government Technology Magazine. Retrieved 2009-01-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Agence France-Presse staff (January 18, 2009). " coming to the White House". Agence France-Presse. Retrieved 2009-01-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Modine, Austin (January 17, 2009). "Internet to Obama: 'Pass the joint'". The Register. Retrieved 2009-01-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Harvey, Mike (January 19, 2009). "BlackBerry-using Barack Obama set to become first President 2.0". The Times. London. Retrieved 2009-01-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. The Times staff (January 20, 2009). "As Obama becomes President, get ready for". The Times. London. Retrieved 2009-01-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Keefe, Bob (January 22, 2009). "Public sends Obama ideas". Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved 2009-01-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Horowitz, Etan (January 25, 2009). "Will technophobes follow Obama's wired example?". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2009-01-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Policinski, Gene (January 27, 2009). "First Amendment's freedoms all on display in election". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 2009-01-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Bradley, Lance (January 15, 2009). "Obama Hearing Calls for Legalized Online Poker". Bluff Magazine. Retrieved 2009-01-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Reagan, Gillian (January 20, 2009). "The Other Big Transition: Content Shifts to at Noon". New York Observer. Archived from the original on August 10, 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-20. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. 22.0 22.1 Hood, Joel (January 23, 2009). "Barack Obama's 'Citizen's Briefing Book'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-01-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 Sullivan, Andy (Reuters) (January 27, 2009). "Analysis: Obama's tech overhaul stumbles on bureaucracy". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 2009-01-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Travers, Karen (May 11, 2009). "The 'Front Door to the White House' Gets a Makeover". Political Punch: Power, pop, and probings from ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper. ABC News. Retrieved 2009-05-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Eggen, Dan (May 11, 2009). "What Do Americans Want? Legal Pot, White House Online Survey Reports". 44: The Obama Presidency. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-05-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. Peck, David (January 21, 2009). "Obama's election network can transform US consumer culture: Our sense of entitlement may ingrained, but change is possible". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2009-01-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. MacMillan, Douglas (January 20, 2009). "Live-Blogging the Social Media Inauguration". Business Week. Retrieved 2009-01-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. Marcus, Morton (January 24, 2009). "Eye On The Pie: Good intentions just aren't enough". Indianapolis Business Journal. IBJ Media Corp. Retrieved 2009-01-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

External links