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White House Grievance Portal Gets Upgraded

The White House

The White House wants to make it easier for the public to receive timely responses to their grievances, so it's made a few tweaks to its online petition portal, We the People.

If a petition receives at least 100,000 signatures within 30 days of being posted, the Obama administration says it will now "aim to respond to it” within two months, according to a statement Tuesday by White House Chief Digital Officer Jason Goldman.

The White House has also assigned one team the responsibility of sifting through petitions and passing them on to the appropriate office or agency, according to the statement, which was posted on Medium.

“You might not always be happy with what you hear from us, but we’ll be upfront with you about why we can’t take action on a given issue if we can’t  --  or about why we’re choosing not to,” Goldman stated.

The White House says it wants to encourage other governments and organizations to implement a similar feedback method, so it has published its Petitions.WhiteHouse.gov code on both Drupal and GitHub.

The We the People portal will also now be integrated with Change.org, a private sector digital petition platform with 100 million users, in order to combine signature counts, according to Goldman.

The changes come as the White House announced it successfully cleared out its petition backlog by responding to 20 outstanding petitions.

Launched four years ago, 255 of the petitions submitted to We the People have now received responses, including a petition to pardon National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden and one to designate the Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group.

Over the next few weeks, White House officials plan to answer questions via Twitter from individuals who have signed petitions. Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett and Chief Data Scientist DJ Patil took questions Tuesday.

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