First person to tweet the following today (July 2) at 1 p.m. Eastern Time wins a free ticket:
Public Service is Awesome! cc @govfresh @govloop
GovLoop and Young Government Leaders will host the Next Generation of Government Summit to “tackle issues the next generation is facing in their daily government lives.” The 2-day conference will be held July 6-7 at the Westin Arlington Gateway in Arlington, Virginia.
GovLoop will give away five registration passes as part of a â€œWhy are you the Next Generation of Government?â€ video contest.
See the full conference schedule for more information.
Move over White House Web team, there’s a new alpha gov in town.
The General Services Administration recently announced it will create FedSpace, a ‘new social intranet for federal employees and contractors.’ The project will be managed by the agency’s Office of Citizen Services and the initial version is expected to launch late summer.
GSA describes it as follows:
FedSpace is a secure intranet and collaboration workspace for Federal employees and contractors. Designed to be “for Feds by Feds”, FedSpace will enable government employees to work collaboratively across agencies, through the use of Web 2.0 technologies like file sharing, wikis, a governmentâ€“wide employee directory, shared workspaces, blogs, and more.
Gartner analyst Andrea DiMaio has interesting thoughts as to why it’s too late for FedSpace (with spirited and substantial comments). Whether you believe the federal government should create another social network or intranet is another discussion. I understand Andrea’s 30,000-foot assessment, but disagree, mostly because an officially-endorsed government network has huge potential to cut through the open Web clutter and protect the privacy of people who just want to get their jobs done.
FedSpace was inevitable and will survive the test of time, regardless of its success. Longer term (1-2 years), if effectively executed, it will have a huge impact on GovLoop, the largest unofficial social network for government employees. To his credit, GovLoop founder Steve Ressler shared his suggestions for FedSpace.
To learn more about FedSpace, there’s a great FAQ and overview page here.
This is a great opportunity for the federal government to do something creatively epic and have a major impact on the way government works. Below are some questions and recommendations.
I’m all for public-private collaboration.
GSA’s Office of Citizen Services is one of my favorite ideas for a government agency and inter-agency service. The work it does is fantastic, and its leadership is exceptional.
I’m also a big fan of GovLoop and have a great relationship with founder Steve Ressler. Steve has been gracious enough to feature me as a ‘GovLoop Member of the Week,’ and I regularly try to post updates on what’s happening over there.
Having said that, I’m wary of GSA’s implied endorsement of GovLoop, notably on it’s Resources page (Figure A) and in its recent ‘Government by Collaboration’ newsletter (Figure B) that includes an article by GovLoop with the headline ‘GovLoop’s “Extraordinary Collection of Talent.”‘
I’ve written about this before (NASCAR.gov: Should corporate logos be on government sites?), which generated some great comments around the role of private sector logo and link placement on government Websites.
In the spirit of open government, I hope GSA and GovLoop can figure out a better way to promote each of their services and non-government resources in a more appropriate manner.
Changes at Ning can only be a good thing for GovLoop. As they mentioned in their press release, they are focusing more on delivering premium services to premier, paying networks like GovLoop.
There are lots of additional and different requirements that are needed when you run a robust 30,000 person social network like GovLoop that is different than running a 50-person free, family reunion site. For example, one key problem we have been trying to solve is with over 5,000 blogs, 700 groups, and 30,000 people, how can GovLoop members find the right content, groups, and colleagues relevant to them. These are the types of problems that Ning can focus on.
On a side note, I think it is an interesting development that government should pay attention to in Gov 2.0. I’m a big believer in low-cost to free (and open-source), tools but there is some truth to the statement “nothing in life is free.” The start-ups we all love and appreciate all need business models to survive and provide services so we shouldn’t be against paying for products that provide valuable service – it may be good for all of us in the long run.
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.”
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.
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.
The attitude that we can do more by constructively collaborating and learn from our mistakes together.
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.
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.
Jefferson. American independence, governor, diplomat, president, university founder, architect, wine lover.
Video announcement from GovLoop founder Steve Ressler:
Video with AFC founders Adam Driscoll and Patrick Blair:
Here’s what open government and Gov 2.0 leaders are saying about the new White House Open Government Directive.
What’s your take?
“This is great. No equivocating, vacillating, hemming, or hawing. This is all good, big thumbs up to the folks that made this happen.”
“The Open Government Directive demonstrates how the Obama administration is matching its aspirational goals with concrete policies and accountability measures. I expect it will create a sea change in how the government and public interact, what information we as citizens have at our fingertips, and that it will redefine that public information means that its online. Itâ€™s going to be up to all of us to participate and monitor how well government meets these goals.”
“The Open Government Initiative is a huge commitment to:
- listening to all Americans, hearing what they have to say
- telling people what’s going on in government, like where the money goes
The results will create effective large-scale grassroots democracy and far greater fiscal responsibility.
I feel that these efforts are complementary to the adoption of the US Consititution.”
The President’s Directive is a tremendous step forward. It not only further explains the President’s vision, but it provides an aggressive roadmap and timeline for getting Federal, State and local governments to improve transparency, increase participation and collaboration. San Francisco is proud to have responded early to the President’s call for open government with our Open Data Directive and DataSF initiatives. The President’s Directive will help San Francisco improve and extend our goal of a more transparent and open City.
“The Open Government Directive is a great starting point for the open-gov movement in the federal government; however, one thing to consider is whether open data is truly “usable” data for our constituents. Instead of just putting datasets online for mashup artists, we should also focus on the interface our citizens will use to get the information. In addition, multi-agency collaboration starting on the local level will be a very important key to the overall initiative’s success. Overall, I think the directive is good move in the right direction for the federal government.”
“We’ve all been eagerly awaiting the OGD and it’s not a let down by any stretch. It will lend support and clarification to what is a complex issue for our government: how to become more open, transparent and participatory. What we’re seeing here is the innovative use of technology and smart policy to unleash the talent of the American people. I’m most excited about how the work we’ve done on Apps for Democracy will soon be institutionalized throughout federal agencies when OMB releases guidance for how to use challenges, prizes and other incentives for stimulating citizen driven innovation.”
“This directive represents a significant step toward the presidentâ€™s goals of transparency, public participation and collaboration. One element that I would like to see emphasized as part of the implementation is a concerted, systemic effort to improve the tools government employees have available to collaborate internally. For me, improved internal collaboration is an essential element to developing the framework for a more fully engaged and responsive government. Imagine a world where cross-departmental information flow was so robust that citizens could interact with ANY agency on ANY issue and could get a timely, complete and helpful response.”
“Open Government Directive is a great first step in the open gov/Gov 2.0 movement. While the data and transparency piece is important, I’m most interested in how agencies create their own open gov plans and what actions they take from their planning exercise. I believe most of the movement for open gov starts when it is done at the agency level and solving true mission needs.”
“This is a great and ambitious plan that’s particularly challenging in terms of both logistics and technology. It is the equivalent of the “putting a man on the moon” of the Transparency movement in the federal government. Challenging, awe-inspiring and risky.”
“I am concerned that some may use the document and its compliance deadlines as a simple checklist. However, as did the president’s January open government memo, this document empowers the growing ranks of Gov 2.0 innovators. Its guidance on data release and standards is also valuable and needed.”
“I think this is a great step to formalize a process and â€œmovementâ€ that has already been spreading throughout government. I would have like to have seen more guidance around transparency, participation and collaboration from an interagency standpoint versus just citizen interaction, but believe that could be a natural output as agencies strive to meet the various deadlines. It will also be interesting to see how quickly and enthusiastically agencies respond to a directive which lays out new unfunded mandates given the many priorities they are already juggling.”
The most important part of the directive, in my opinion, is the attachment with guidance on plan formulation. The thought put into that means agencies do not have to recreate the wheel when formulating their own plan. The part of the directive that we all need to watch out for abuse on: it seems to apply to all other than OMB and above. Yet history has shown those are the ones we need the most openness from.
“I am thrilled to see the emphasis on open government this directive represents. I hope to see government agencies able to meet the deadlines for action established by the Open Government Directive. I also want to see citizen participation in determining the high value data sets to be published. Since this directive also requires the data be published in an open format, it will be nice to have documents available where the data is not shielded within the pdf format.”
A new book, State of the eUnion: Government 2.0 and Onwards, is now available free for download. The book, a compilation of essays from 34 Gov 2.0 thought leaders, will soon be available in print through Amazon and elsewhere.
From the publisher:
â€œIn many ways, eGovernment has come of age. The use of IT and digital media is today part of everything government does, so the â€˜eâ€™ is becoming obsolete. â€˜eGovernment is just Government,â€™ as the saying goes, but it is important to realise that the â€˜eâ€™ has changed government forever, and will keep doing so, and hence we now talk about Government 2.0, â€ said John Gotze.
The bookâ€™s contributors touch on a number of different subjects, all related to making government work better. Some deal with getting government data out into the open, breaking down data silos. Others focus on how to interact with the public through interactive websites. Still others discuss how to facilitate organizational change that will open up government.
I’m a communications guy by trade, working in media relations and strategic communications for nearly two decades. Over the last 10 years or so I’ve worked in and around the public sector for organizations like Sprint, BearingPoint and now with Deloitte. Around 24 months ago, it became obvious to me that new technologies and tools were fundamentally changing the way communicators worked — the way reporters interacted with sources, the way organizations disseminated information, the way citizens expected to interact with their government. While I was familiar with eGov initiatives and the web 1.0 services that federal, state and local governments were providing (ordering birth certificates or publishing reports on line and such), it was less apparent to me how new channels like Twitter, YouTube, FaceBook, MySpace and the like could be applied to the public sector. After all, these were “social” tools and seemed more fitting for lighter discussions and interactions, or maybe more relevant for the technology sector, not the business of government.
But as I started experimenting with the tools myself I was shocked to find many government clients, prospects, reporters and more all using tools like Twitter and GovLoop to start meaningful conversations, share relevant information and connect in ways that email and other tools had simply not allowed. As an info junkie, Twitter became an extremely powerful channel for me personally, especially when paired with tools like Tweetdeck or other search sites to find/funnel relevant information. But as enamored as I was with Twitter, 12 months ago it was hard to ferret out who was talking about the business of government or which agencies and individuals to connect with. That’s why I started GovTwit, because I wanted to provide what appeared to be a rapidly-growing community with a one-stop-shop to find others from government using this tool to share information, form relationships and communicate.
I think the citizen interaction piece is still largely untapped to date. Many agencies at both federal and state levels have launched programs that use channels like Facebook, Twitter and the like to push information out to where citizens are now “gathering” online. This is fantastic, especially so if you have a mission that partly centers around dissemination of critical information quickly — like the CDC dealing with H1N1. But there have been far fewer instances of government directly soliciting input and having back and forth conversations with citizens about issues that matter to them. There are, of course, many reasons for this, including how do you staff such a model, how do you comply with privacy issues or other regulatory requirements as you interact in a more direct, one-to-one manner, etc. But those are surmountable challenges and tools allowing a way to recreate the town hall experience where everyone gets a voice is an incredibly powerful concept.
I don’t think there’s one killer application or tool that will make Gov 2.0 the norm, and I actually don’t think it’s about apps at all. To a much larger extent it’s about embracing a change in culture and a change in processes to look at new ways to accomplish goals. If you approach Gov 2.0 as “I need a Twitter feed” or “I need to blog” you’ve already failed. You first need to focus on your mission objectives, then work from that to determine the right tools to help you meet that mission. Gov 2.0 isn’t something that the PAO/PIO shop should own or something that only recruiting works with. You could use it for internal process improvement like TSA’s Idea Factory, or use it to solicit cross-agency feedback on government-wide issues like BetterBuyProject.com. It’s about *your* mission and how new tools, technologies and applications can help you meet your goals.
I think its the promise of what government could like like 10 years from now as the use of these tools and technologies become more prevalent. As collaboration increases, as knowledge-sharing grows, as best-practices break free from whatever stove-pipe they were previously trapped within, there’s opportunity for a much more rapid pace of change to take place for the betterment of all.