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Who's visiting Steven VanRoekel?

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Now that Steven VanRoekel has been the Office of Management and Budget administrator for e-government and information technology for more than a year, we got to wondering who's been in to see him in his office.

We downloaded the spreadsheet of logged White House visitors covering the period of January through September 2012 and produced an interactive visualization out of the data. Note--the visualization requires Java; we withheld posting it online until Oracle released a patch for its zero day exploit. Go here to download it. Also, full interactivity requires going directly to the IBM Many Eyes website where we made the visualization.

In December 2010, we wondered the same thing about VanRoekel's predecessor Vivek Kundra--and although the time periods involved and data aren't exactly comparable, a few observations are possible.

VanRoekel, like Kundra, appears to meet the most often with David McClure, head of the General Service Administration's Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies--and without question the most often with OCSIT personnel. Of the 1,136 logged visits by 507 individuals during our 9 month period, 216 visits included meetings with 17 OCSIT personnel. McClure showed up 36 different times, a rate of four times per month.

Richard Spires, CIO of the Homeland Security Department, appears still to be among OMB's favorite executive branch employees; Spires showed up 11 times, the most frequent visitor from any federal agency not GSA. In all, 15 DHS employees visited VanRoekel a total of 51 times--more than the 38 visits from 17 Health and Human Services personnel and 29 visits from 11 Veterans Affairs Department employees (two of whom are jointly employed by the Defense Department).

Unlike before, OMB contractors in the main aren't apparent in the White House logs. The logs do record 18 visits from SRA Touchstone contractors and three from REI Systems contractors, but the data is very unlike the Kundra-era data we looked at--during which a single SRA Touchstone contractor was recorded as showing up just about as many times as McClure. Several explanations for this change are possible, including that the White House may have changed the criteria for entering an outsider into the visitor logs.

Now, as before, the White House logs fail to identify the affiliation of individuals who come through its gate, a significant limitation on the data's utility. Adding affiliation was our job, and in the end we couldn't do it for 151 visitors via research that depends on recognition of obvious names (such as McClure's) and context for non-obvious names. In the latter case, when web searches of names associated with a particular meeting turned up a pattern, such as people associated with a particular issue, agency or topic, we could significantly narrow the universe of possibilities.

For more:
- see the embedded visualization
- go to the visualization on the IBM Many Eyes webpage

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