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How a bill is made: Sausage 2.0

In the 2.0 future, everything will be exposed and collaborative. A tech startup thinks that's a even a good idea for bill writing, but the old adage has never been more true.

A new company in Washington, D.C. wants to bring Web 2.0 to government operations, including writing laws, the SF Chronicle's Tech Chronicles reports. Government Futures, founded by tech vets Bruce McConnell and Margaret Anderson, is based on the idea that even government can be more efficient with the Internet and Web 2.0.

"We want to bring some of the social technologies that use the web as an instrument into the government world, partly to the government agencies themselves and partly to the community that is around the government, the vendors that supply products and services to the government," said McConnell, president of Government Futures.

Well of course, the government uses the Internet like crazy but government solutions so far seem to be missing the big story this year - that the cost of development can be greatly reduced, even as apps become far more useful. For instance, a slew of startups are combining Census Dept. data with Google Maps to create very useful "mashups." But so far the government isn't doing it.

Government Futures is thinking more like Wikipedia, though.

"We are going to try to do some policy development using these tools," McConnell said. "We would put a straw man up and invite people to participate in editing it. People would register. It would be public, like open source software, which does not allow anonymous submissions of code. It would all be done in the public domain."

Writing laws by Wikipedia? Right. OK, McConnell concedes, "This community tends to be conservative," he said. "These are not your early adopters."