U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has used Web tools to solicit donations and hear from his supporters during his campaign and transition phases, but it's still unclear how many of those methods will translate into electronic government, a group of e-campaign and open-government experts says.

As reported today by Grant Gross of IDG News Services in PC World,

Obama will face several challenges when attempting to translate his use of participatory technology to government, said several speakers at a conference on technology and participatory government hosted by Google. Many federal agencies still resist putting the information they control online, or they don't have resources to make it happen, said Meredith Fuchs, general counsel for the National Security Archive, an independent library at George Washington University.   
    After (Obama campaign website team member Sam) Graham-Felsen talked of putting entire Obama campaign events, including audience questions, online live, Fuchs suggested there's much more government can do, including posting more in-depth evaluations and budget details of government programs. "It's not enough to put an event on the Web," she said. "You've got to go farther. Accountability is part of it."

Obama as a Senator, with Republican co-author Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, carried the 2006 legislation authorizing USASpending.gov, a website database permitting tracking of many if not most federal contracts and grants.  But sites or other technology permitting not only retrospective review of government activity but real-time participation in policy-making will be more challenging.

The problem is that there have been few real attempts at participatory government, said John Wonderlich, program director for the Sunlight Foundation, a Web-based government watchdog group. "We don't know what's going to happen, and we should experiment with it," he said.
    If government agencies begin to seek public participation in a major way, instead of the occasional request for comments, they could also be flooded with "white noise," added Jonathan Zuck, president of the Association for Competitive Technology, a tech trade group. In addition, the way Obama and other politicians have sought feedback means that the comments come from a self-selected group of people and may not reflect the attitudes of the public at large, he said.