(CNN) - Just back from a foreign trip and a holiday vacation, the president returned to work Monday by talking about government efficiency.
A snooze, right? But not this time. What we found fascinating is this new crop of companies Obama mentioned that have taken advantage of all sorts of government data that's recently been put online. These companies have downloaded it (for free) and created new services in health care, credit card protections and medical care that make life easier for you and me.
As the president put it Monday: "What's happening is entrepreneurs and business owners are now using that data - the people's data, to create jobs and solve problems that government can't solve by itself or can't do as efficiently."
On the politics, we grant, this was an oddly technocratic note for Obama to hit. Given the violence in Egypt and inaction in Washington it seemed a little small ball.
Maybe it was meant to remind the public the executive branch is hard at work, even if Washington has ground to a halt. Or maybe to make the case the administration supports information sharing even if the NSA controversy suggests it's pro-secrecy. Or to prove government can work despite glitches in the rollout of health care reform.
Whatever the politics, we liked the open-data programs. So we asked their champion, the president's Chief Technology Officer Todd Parks, to explain how it works.