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Weekly Wrap Up: A 21st Century Government

A look back at the past week at the White House.

Watch the West Wing Week here.

A More Efficient Government: On Monday, the President laid out his plan his vision for building a better, smarter, and faster government during his second term.

Over the last four years, the Administration has already made great progress on one of President Obama’s first priorities after taking office: bringing a government built for the 20th century into the 21st century. And on Monday, the President highlighted some of the new technologies and innovations that are already making a positive impact on Americans across the country – including data analytics and internet and mobile apps used by FEMA to help survivors of natural disasters locate recovery centers and apply for financial assistance. The President also discussed, a project from the Open Data Initiative, which gives Americans access to government data for the first time ever.

Kids’ State Dinner: Winners of Epicurious’ second annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge spent their Tuesday at the White House for the Kids’ State Dinner, hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama.

While at the White House, the 54 children ate lunch with the First Lady – and the President even stopped by for a surprise visit!

Honoring Fallen Firefighters: Last week nineteen firefighters were killed battling the Yarnell Hill fire, and on Tuesday, Vice President Biden traveled to Prescott Valley, Arizona to honor the heroes. Joined by Cabinet secretaries, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, members of Congress, and family members of the fallen firefighters in Prescott Valley, Arizona, the Vice President spoke of the sacrifices the firefighters and their families made, saying,

These men were some of the strongest, most disciplined, tenacious, physically fit men in the world – an elite unit in every sense of that phrase. Their motto to me sums them up better than anything I can think of: Duty, Integrity, Respect. They saw their jobs not as jobs but as a duty – a duty to their fellow citizens. They understood what few do: that integrity is measured by whether you respond to the needs of your neighbors when you know you are one of the few… who has the capacity to respond.


Talking Immigration Reform: Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus traveled across town on Wednesday to discuss immigration reform with President Obama and Vice President Biden at the White House. During the meeting, the President released a White House report—The Economic Benefits of Fixing Our Broken Immigration System. The report explains the how significant it is for our country and our economy to act now and pass comprehensive immigration reform.

National Medals of Arts and Humanities: The White House was flooded with talented recipients of the 2012 National Medals of Arts and Humanities on Wednesday. The honorees, which included people like George Lucas, the director of Star Wars, and Kay Ryan, the sixteenth U.S. Poet Laureate, joined President Obama in the East Room of the White House where he spoke of their accomplishments.

The work that we honor today, the lifetime achievement of these artists and these scholars, reminds us that the human imagination is still the most powerful tool that we have as a people. That’s why we celebrate their creativity and the fundamental optimism, the notion that if they work that hard somebody will actually pay attention. That’s why we have to remain committed to the dreamers and the creators and innovators who fuel that progress and help us light the way ahead, because our children, our grandchildren deserve to grow up in a country where their dreams know no bounds and their ambitions extend as far as their talents and hard work can take them.

Loyola Ramblers: The 1963 champion Loyola University Chicago Ramblers men’s basketball team spent their Thursday visiting President Obama at the White House to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their Division I title and the historic steps they took to advance the civil rights movement.

During the regional semifinals that year, the Ramblers played Mississippi State in what became known as the Game of Change. Ramblers coach George Ireland started four African American players, despite unwritten rules preventing more than two African-Americans to start the game. And, although the rules also banned the opposing team, Mississippi State, from playing in games with integrated teams, Mississippi State players ignored their governor’s order to forfeit the game. The Ramblers’ 61-51 victory was significant in helping end segregated basketball in America.