U.S. Gov Releases New Collaborative Social Media Services

Jun 30, 2014
YouTube screen capture of June 30, 2014 SocialGov Google Hangout

The Federal #SocialGov Community, a collective of almost 700 digital engagement managers from more than 120 government agencies, marked the 2nd anniversary of our program by releasing a suite of new collaborative services to help us better work together and with partners in the private sector to share resources and build public services of the 21st century.

The online event, U.S. Federal SocialGov: 2 years of Smashing Silos + Elevating Citizen Services, focused on how collaborative, open participation in the development process will help public services better tackle performance analysis, policy development, accessibility for persons with disabilities, international partnerships and global digital engagement support.

Bottom line: social media in government isn’t just about using digital engagement to tell our story better, but to rewrite the story itself by making government programs better and more cost effective. And we didn’t throw a party — we threw down the digital gauntlet.

Dr. Alissa Johnson, deputy chief information officer at The White House
“This is such a great opportunity to engage with government and engage with citizens,” said Dr. Alissa Johnson, deputy chief information officer at The White House, during her keynote address. “We all have the opportunity through social media and digital engagement to be part of the governing process, so I think your coming year will be bigger, better, bolder. I am looking for improved analysis, transparency and collaboration, so here we come!”

New resources, which take the collaborative model for ePolicy and eRegulations and expands it, include:

  • The new Federal Social Media Accessibility toolkit, updated by the Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy. Originally a product of eight agencies working together to provide guidance on better ensuring, it is now offered for open collaboration on Hackpad as well as a static webpage for more accessible viewing.
  • The new Federal Social Media Policy Development toolkit, a resource launched by a 20-agency working group to identify and provide customizable examples of key provisions found in government social media policies, or ones needed to drive positive change in the coming years — also on Hackpad for open collaboration.
  • The Federal Social Media Performance Analytics toolkit, a resource launched by a 12-agency working group to identify the metrics and reporting methodologies important or unique to public services — also, for the first time, open for public contribution.
Gwynne Kostin, Director, Center for Digital Government & Digital Services Innovation Center, Office of Citizen Services & Innovative Technologies U.S. General Services Administration

These shared resources represent a firm first step into social media collaborative development toolkits for both agencies and the public to use together, a model which we will measure, improve, and ultimately expand in scope to deliver the most effective and efficient services.

Also launched was a new resource developed by USAID, “Social Networking: A Guide to Strengthening Civil Society through Social Media (#SMGuide4CSO)” — a guide for NGOs on how to approach social media as a whole, no matter the platform, and how to reach their intended goals.

The guide is an extensive collection of recommendations, case studies, online tools and analytics, which was presented by Jill Moss, USAID New Media and Internet Freedom fellow. If that job title sounds cool, that’s because it is.

Sarah Koch, director of Social Innovation for The Case Foundation
Sarah Koch, director of Social Innovation for The Case Foundation, noted the potential of collaborations that can give new and unexpected participants a seat at the table and a chance at being part of the solution. “It is not easy to walk down the street to say who is trying to change the world, Koch said. “A common challenge among the nonprofit and public is how we are embracing and lifting these people who are trying to change the world.”

“Let’s find some solutions together, because some of the problems we work with collectively are the defining problems of the time,” challenged Kaushal Jhalla of the World Bank, speaking on international cooperation in social media. “We have some of the hardest problems and the technology is moving at such a rapid pace, we are quickly realizing this is where the answers will come from.”

Google Hangouts are not new to the SocialGov Community, which has used it for collaborative working group meetings and online office hours for more than a year — part of our dedication to evaluating and adopting emerging technologies to create more effective digital communities in an era of increased teleworking and mobile development.

As polar explorer Robert Peary stated (and we adopted as our mantra), “We shall find a way or make one.” There are many challenges ahead of us, many things we need to improve in front of us, but working together as an objective-driven community will ensure that after the first two years of the SocialGov program, three is indeed the magic number.