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GovLoop Member of the Week: Luke Fretwell

If you’ve seen a series of posts called “Gov 2.0 Heroes” here on GovLoop, then you probably know about Luke Fretwell’s launch of GovFresh just a few months ago. GovFresh is a great website with a comprehensive list of feeds from scores of government agencies. In addition, Luke is providing thought leadership and innovative new content with the “What Does Government Mean to You?” video project.

Since Luke has been highlighting a lot of other individuals around the Government 2.0 space with his “Heroes” feature, let’s turn the tables on GovFresh to hear his story. Enjoy the GovLoop version of “Gov 2.0 Hero: Luke Fretwell.”

1. What was your path to Gov 2.0?

I grew up in the Washington, D.C. area, so the political culture had a big influence on my interest in the dynamics of democracy. I studied Government and Politics and International Relations at George Mason University and was the editor-in-chief of Broadside, GMU’s student newspaper. I’ve always loved writing, media and political communications.

In the late 90s, I was intrigued by the Web’s potential. It streamlined production time and was a much cheaper publishing alternative. When I started teaching myself HTML, editing code, refreshing the browser, seeing the change immediately, I was hooked. I moved to San Francisco soon after, because I wanted to be where the Web was being built. I’ve worked in user experience, product management and marketing roles for several start-up companies, including my own venture, HowYouEco, a green lifestyle portal. I love the creativity, innovation, technology and entrepreneurial spirit of the start-up.

My Washington, D.C., past and San Francisco present converged when I launched GovFresh. GovFresh started as a simple idea around consolidating official U.S. Government social media feeds, so that I could get my news directly from the source. I was fascinated by the information the government was pushing out, as well as the people leading the charge. The ‘Gov 2.0 Heroes’ idea was borne because I wanted to acknowledge what they were doing, and I love connecting with smart, innovative, productive people. The blog component feeds my love of processing ideas, writing and discourse. GovFreshTV started because I was interested in learning more about video on the Web, and communicating the message through a medium I’ve never worked with.

GovFresh has become my Gov 2.0 civics project.

2. What area of government offers the biggest opportunity for improvement via Web 2.0 tools?

Definitely the citizen-to-public servant relationship.

The idea that we can implement tools that allow public servants to solicit feedback on what they’re doing, what they should be doing, or how they could do it better, is powerful. Web 2.0 tools offer real user/customer feedback that allows government to be more efficient by focusing on what’s really needed, rather than just making assumptions.

3. What’s the killer app that will make Gov 2.0 the norm instead of the exception?

The attitude that we can do more by constructively collaborating and learn from our mistakes together.

4. What part of Gov 2.0 most excites you?

The efficiency potential.

Open source projects, iterative processes and engaged feedback is low-hanging fruit for freeing public budgets that can then be re-purposed for more innovative public policy initiatives.

5. GovFresh just turned 4 months old. You’ve introduced an excellent collection of feeds, videos for GovFreshTV and great insight from Gov 2.0 Heroes. What are some of your ideas for the next 4 months?

Much of GovFresh has been reactive or an outlet to experiment with new ideas. The people I’ve met since it started have been much of the inspiration for its growth.

I love that its evolution has been organic. I’ll let that spirit drive its future.

6. Everyone that joins GovLoop has the chance to answer the following question for their profile: Who’s your favorite public servant and why? I didn’t see an answer from you and I’d be curious to hear your thoughts.

Jefferson. American independence, governor, diplomat, president, university founder, architect, wine lover.

That’s service.

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Great post….I really like the perspective Luke brings and have had the great fortunate to spend some time with him chatting online and in-person. People like him have great value to Gov 2.0 – he gets government and gets web 2.0 and helps bridge the gap….

Diana Louise Morgan

Fantastic Luke! I enjoyed and agree with the comments made in regards to Web 2.0 tools and the feedback loop that indeed allows government to be more efficient rather than making assumptions on various topics.

Abby Liebeskind

Great post! I’ve been trying to come up with a witty answer for the public servant question, and Luke seems to have raised the bar even further.