Open for Questions

White House Office of New Media

Open for Questions gave Americans across the nation a direct line to the Administration to ask exactly what they wanted to know about the Administration’s efforts to get the economy back on track.

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The Challenge

The economy affects American households across the country, but it is hard to bring all of these concerns, hopes, and fears directly to the President in Washington. Open for Questions made a new type of town hall possible: one that leveraged the internet to bring American voices directly to the President in the East Room of the White House.

The Solution

The White House Office of New Media launched Open for Questions on on March 24, 2009. The public was encouraged to submit questions via text or video, and rate questions submitted by others. After getting more than 100,000 questions and 3.6 million ratings in less than 48 hours, President Obama responded to several of the top questions via an online town hall held at the White House and streamed live on

The Benefit

The American people received direct answers to some of their most pressing questions. The President and policy makers got a better sense of what’s on people’s minds during these tough economic times. In addition, both the public and the government experienced firsthand the potential of new media in connecting voices around the country with the White House.

Additional Details

Open for Questions greatly expanded the range of people who could participate in a dialogue on the economy. Over a period of less than 48 hours, 92,927 people representing all 50 states submitted 104,127 questions and cast 3,606,825 ratings (average of 38 ratings per participant). In addition there were 1 million visits and 1.4 million views of the Open for Questions page. All questions can be viewed online.

Other members of the Administration addressed more of the questions after the event, through products such as this video Q&A about employment and health options for people with disabilities by Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy, and additional answers by Jared Bernstein, the Vice President’s Chief Economist and Economic Policy Advisor.

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