GSA Introduces News Genius to Decode Government Web

Mar 27, 2014

The federal government can now unlock the collaborative “genius” of citizens and communities to make public services easier to access and understand with a new free social media platform launched by GSA today at the Federal #SocialGov Summit on Entrepreneurship and Small Business.

Photo of a mobile phone displaying the News Genius app.

News Genius, an annotation wiki based on Rap Genius now featuring federal-friendly Terms of Service, allows users to enhance policies, regulations and other documents with in-depth explanations, background information and paths to more resources.

In the hands of government managers it will improve public services through citizen feedback and plain language, and will reduce costs by delivering these benefits on a free platform that doesn’t require a contract.

GSA’s Mentor-Protege Program will use News Genius to open their policies to annotations from current and previous participants in order to:

  1. Make the path to participation in the Mentor-Protege Program more accessible and understandable for citizens and partners.
  2. Improve our program by making obstacles to participate easier to identify and fix, based on crowdsourced feedback from the citizens who need them.
  3. Build more effective entrepreneur/public partnerships by providing a free, easy to use platform to collaborate.

The first document open for annotation is at the bottom of this post: agencies can host the documents on the News Genius website, annotate from their mobile app, or embed the annotations on a government website or blog.

The federal government joins the City of Chicago’s Smart Chicago Collaborative, MIT, Harvard and other leading colleges and universities in putting News Genius to practical uses. The Smart Chicago Collaborative opens contracts, municipal code, request for proposals and more. The edX online education initiative, including MIT, Harvard and the Smithsonian Institution, similarly uses the annotation platform to unlock deeper understandings of course materials.

This announcement comes today in conjunction with our SocialGov Summit, hosted by the Federal SocialGov Community and the Small Business Administration, which focuses on how government can better grow opportunities for entrepreneurs and small businesses using digital engagement, social media and data.

The summit includes discussion of innovative new programs from agencies including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Defense Intelligence Agency, on topics including the Internet of Things, mobile development and performance analysis.

The SocialGov Summits are an ongoing education and training series through DigitalGov University open free to government employees in order to help build the government of the 21st Century. We have quadrupled the amount of these digital trainings available in 2014, with the same resources, by using social media and data as a mechanism to improve the internal function of government itself.

The SocialGov Community, also known less-coolly as the Federal Social Media Community of Practice, is a performance-driven team of 600 digital engagement managers from more than 130 federal programs committed to using social media to measurably improve public services and measurably reduce costs. Recent shared services delivered by the SocialGov Community include the:

For more information on the SocialGov Community, check out our recent “State of the #SocialGov 2014” post.

The News Genius annotation wiki for GSA’s Mentor-Protege Program can be viewed below:

Read “GSA Mentor-Protege Program (Subpart 519.70)” by U.S. General Services Administration on News Genius.