White House grapples with a flood of online petitions

Source: nextgov
Author: Joseph Marks
Coverage Type: reporting
The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC, 20500, United States

The true test of We the People, the Obama administration's online petition site, won't be how many petitions are launched through the Web page, but how well the White House is able to respond to them.

If it looks as if federal officials are ignoring the site or only issuing pro forma responses, that could undermine the operation, they said, and make people feel more alienated from their government. The White House initially promised to respond formally to any We the People petition that received more than 5,000 signatures, but after nearly three dozen petitions crossed that mark in the site's first week, the administration raised the bar to 25,000 signatures within 30 days. In a blog post announcing the change, White House New Media Director Macon Phillips called the flood of signatures "a good problem to have." A White House official told Nextgov Tuesday that the raised minimum should also be seen as evidence the White House is committed to producing well-considered responses to the most popular petitions, rather than routine responses to more petitions than it can handle.


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