A couple observations on the official announcement today that Obama will nominate Tom Daschle as secretary of Health and Human Services as well as oversee an office of healthcare reform. This officially designates healthcare as a leading issue for the administration - but not in the 100 days sense. Daschle talked about a process of several years, which may be simply a way to carve out some breathing room but also to avoid the impression that they'll go in there guns-a-blazin' like Clinton did in 1992, only to come up empty (is that one metaphor or two?). Also, very intriguing to hear Daschle talk about soliciting input from all Americans, via house meetings (Daschle promises to sit in on a few) and suggestions posted on Change.gov. “Over the next few weeks, we will be coordinating thousands of healthcare discussions in homes all across the country through our Web site, change.gov, where ordinary Americans can share their ideas about what's broken and how to fix it,” Daschle said.
Obama calls this part of an "open and transparent process," but another word for it - if he's serious - is opensource healthcare reform. In this case, I think that's a great idea. One, it gets buy-in (or creates the impression of buy-in) from the populace, getting them on board with what has been demonized as freightening change or "socialized medicine." And two, it acknowledges that healthcare is an infinitely complicated beast, and demands to be considered from every perspective. Crowdsourcing has been used a bit by some government agencies - most inventively by NASA and its "clickworkers" effort a few years back - but never far as I know to hash out real policy reform. It'll be interesting to see what, if anything, the power of the crowd comes up with that 50 years of expert (though failed) wonkery hasn't thought of.
One side note: I think this is also the first official suggestion of what the Obama administration might do with Change.gov post-inauguration, as well.