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Clay Johnson
Works at Presidential Innovation Fellow
Attended University of Rhode Island
Lives in Washington, DC
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Clay Johnson

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 If you've ever wanted to see what it's like to give a TED talk, here's what it looks like. 

I was invited to give a TEDx talk awhile back -- it was a corporate event, and I usually charge corporations a speakers fee if they want me to come speak to their employees. But if it lines up with my mission of governmental reform, and the speech is made public (and the time is right) I usually waive the fee. I asked the organizer, and he said the speech would be made public, and then, after I'd given the speech, told me that TED's license would not allow him to make the speech public. Which means I got punk'd into giving a speech for free. Fortunately, I was wearing Glass while giving the speech, and I recorded it from my perspective. #throughglass  

Clay Johnson

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Started to get hate mail. Most of it -- like the stuff that calls me an 'idiot fag' or a "muslim lover" -- is ignorant enough to ignore. But the one that gets me every time is stuff like this:

"You say the whole of ACA is not a bad thing just because the web site did not function properly.  That is the point of the opposition to ACA which is the government is not capable of running anything well. "

Makes. Me. Nuts. And no, not just because it's tautological (it doesn't work, because it doesn't work!) Because, no matter what you think the size of government ought to be, why would you not want a government that works well?! You do understand that Lockheed Martin makes some of the software for both and for, say, nuclear submarines, right? And that no matter how big or small government is, there's still going to be software for running that government. 

Smart libertarians I can handle -- usually I have more in common with them than not -- but this fundamentalism of "everything government does it gets wrong!" is nothing but an abdication of responsibility. It's an easy out for not having to actually use your brain to fix what's broken in government, and a way you ensure that no matter what size of government you have, you'll be dissatisfied with it.

Clay Johnson

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9:56, lol. Nice job Clay.

Clay Johnson

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Accountability only works when you hold the right people accountable. Accountability doesn't work if you hold good people accountable for something that bad people did -- that's negative accountability.

Anyhow -- the USCTO, Todd Park, didn't have much to do with what you now know as, up until three weeks ago. This is a guy who created the Presidential Innovation Fellowship program, essentially co-founded the Blue Button Initiative, worked tirelessly to create open data initiatives for the treasury, the Department of Energy, the Department of Education, and of course, HHS, and he's now being tasked with helping to fix

Except there's one problem. He's been subpoenaed by Darrell Issa to come in and testify about what he knows went wrong. A testimony isn't "a couple hours" -- it's days worth of preparation. Days that could be spent fixing the problems of If one were cynical, one could read it as an attempt to kick the legs out of the "tech surge" by keeping them busy on preparing testimony. 

This isn't good. So I need your help -- please go here: -- and let it be known that you want Congress to let Todd go back to work. #lettoddwork
On the evening of November 8th, Todd Park was subpoenaed by Congress to testify instead of continuing to fix Over the course of his federal career, CTO Park has done more to improve the health of America's government than most ever dream of.
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Furthermore, I look askance at anything Darryl Issa does, says or wants. Of course, that policy should be applied to all Congresspeople as a matter of principle, but in this case I think you're right. More obstructionism.

Clay Johnson

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Great job +Clay Johnson 

Clay Johnson

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I’m looking forward to joining +Reinventors Network and in a virtual roundtable about how to reinvent Government Procurement. Its a complex but important topic, and they’ve helped assemble a smart and talented group of innovators and intellectuals in the hopes of generating concrete solutions. This Thursday at 11 AM PT, don’t miss it!

Clay Johnson

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Really excited that Alex Payne has joined the Department of Better Technology:
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Whoa. Great hire!

Clay Johnson

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Matt Cutts's profile photoClay Johnson's profile photo
Really good, Matt. Really good. 

Clay Johnson

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If you actually want to know what happened with, and how it could be prevented -- you should watch this: What Went Wrong with and How To Fix it

Clay Johnson

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When I first heard of Todd Park, it was while I was at the Sunlight Foundation. He was introduced to me by +Mitch Kapor as an up-and-coming administration official. His email address was toddy, and I thought "I'm not sure who this Toddy Park guy is, but I'm not sure an adult who calls himself Toddy can really be an administration official that's taken seriously"

I came to realize later, that Todd's middle initial is Y.  Over the next few years, I worked closely with Todd Park, he helped inspire Sunlight's most successful apps contest: Design for America, and after years of hearing me moan about the procurement process, gave me a challenge: come in and try and fix it. Be one of the first presidential innovation fellows, and head up RFP-EZ, a program that ended up getting 250 new small businesses registered with the Federal Government and more than paid for itself with a 30% reduction in average bid price.

When I first met Todd, he weighed about 60 pounds more than he weighed now. And not because he's a dieter, but because he's basically sacrificed everything he can for this country. There's not an hour of the day that I've not received an email from Todd -- he works around the clock.

Todd just got subpoenaed by Congressman Darrell Issa today and accused of lying to the american public. I don't believe Todd has the mental capacity to lie -- not because he isn't smart, but because he doesn't have the cognitive energy to expend on it -- he has better things to do.

But the real shame of this, is that a member of Congress (and a chairman of a very important congressional committee) seemingly has a deep desire to get as close to the president as he can, so that he can mount a trophy on his wall, instead of being of service to his constituents and trying to make government more efficient, fix what's broken and solve problems. The spirit of this subpoena is one of politics and vengeance. This is what's wrong with Washington. 

That's the opposite of the spirit of Todd. If the people in government technology were made up of characters in the marvel universe, Todd Park would most assuredly be Captain America -- someone who selflessly serves, has a strong moral compass, and has an uncanny ability to always be optimistic and see the best in everyone.

We simply cannot allow for the spirit of this subpoena to trump the spirit of Todd. It isn't acceptable.
Edward Mullen's profile photoJoshua Baer's profile photo
Todd Park could be doing a million other things (such as just laying on a beach somewhere) but instead he's working hard putting up with a ton of BS with the hopes of making things better for all of us. It's a shame that he's being attacked for political gain.

Thank you Todd. I support you and appreciate everything you have done for me and for the USA.
I help those with power open up to those without it.
I'm Clay Johnson. The most optimistic and idealistic cynic will ever meet. I've just spent about 10 years in politics in Washington, DC and have come to the conclusion that we've all got it all wrong. Washington has become theological -- not in the religious sense but in the partisan sense. Ideology and partisan theology gets in the way of our ability to manage our government, and our ability to have good senses of humor.

The only theology we really need is the political theology this country was founded on: pragmatism.
Bragging rights
Co-Founded Blue State Digital. Directed Sunlight Labs and built an army of thousands of developers to help make the US Federal Government more open. Can make the best deep fried turkey you've ever had. Ran a marathon. Writing a book. Advisory Boards of Civic Commons and Code for America. Excellent Bragger.
  • University of Rhode Island
    Marine Biology, 1995 - 1999
Basic Information
I convince people with power to open up to people without it.
  • Presidential Innovation Fellow
    2012 - present
  • Big Window Labs
    CEO, 2011 - 2012
  • Expert Labs
    Director of Engagement, 2011 - 2012
  • Bullfight Strategies
    Partner, 2011 - 2012
  • Rising Tide Interactive
    Partner, 2011 - 2012
    Founder, 2011 - 2012
  • Sunlight Foundation
    Director of Sunlight Labs, 2008 - 2010
  • Blue State Digital
    Co-Founder, 2003 - 2008
    Founder, 1996 - 2000
  • Ask Jeeves
    Engineer, 2000 - 2002
  • ZeroDegrees
    Social Software Architect
  • ThePalace, Inc.
    Tech Support Engineer
  • Waffle House
    Waitress, 1994 - 1996
  • HumanSearch
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Washington, DC
Atlanta, GA - Somerville, MA - Kingston, RI - Albany, GA - Atlanta, GA - Washington, DC - Burlington, VT