10 Years of Digital Government—A Retrospective

Dec 18, 2014
Birthday candles number ten isolated on white background

In December of 2004, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued the first Policies for Federal Public Websites. Over the past decade, we’ve seen technology completely transform how government delivers information and services to the public.

On this 10-year anniversary, we’re taking a walk down memory lane to recap some of the pivotal moments that have shaped today’s digital government landscape.


February—Facebook launches (for colleges; opens to the public 2007)

March—Interagency Committee on Government Information (ICGI) convenes to draft Web recommendations

June—ICGI issues Recommendations for Federal Web Policies

July—ICGI becomes the Web Content Management Working Group (predecessor to Federal Web Managers Council)

August—HHS publishes its seminal Research-Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines (foundation for Usability.gov)

December—OMB issues M-05-04 Policies for Federal Public Websites


January—NARA issues guidance on scheduling Web records

February—YouTube launches

September—Web community implements content “lanes” for disaster response (Katrina); First Web Manager Conference at GWU

December—Small Business Administration is the first federal agency on YouTube


April—Intellipedia, the first interagency wiki, launches

July—Twitter launches; USGS provides earthquake info via RSS

August—NOAA creates tsunami simulations in Second Life

December—OMB wiki (future MAX community) launches


January—FirstGov.gov changes its name to USA.gov

May—HHS Womenshealth.gov is first federal agency on Twitter; NASA creates virtual rockets, space stations in Second Life


January—First presidential blog from Air Force One

April—Gobierno.usa.gov tweets in Spanish

November—Web Council issues “Putting Citizens First: Transforming Online Government” white paper

December—Web Council issues “Social Media Barriers & Solutions” white paper; WCAG 2.0 published as a W3C Recommendation


January—Open Government Directive issued; weekly Presidential Address via YouTube begins

February—First federal-friendly Terms of Service (TOS) signed (YouTube)

March—DigitalGov Search relaunches using an open source technology stack; moves to gov’t (not vendor) owned

May—Data.gov launches; USGovernment channel launches on YouTube to consolidate gov’t content

June—IT Dashboard publishes data on IT spending

November—CDC’s H1n1 YouTube video gets 2 million views


January—Plain Writing Act; Social media used to locate Haiti earthquake victims, people text donations

February—National Archives adds historic photos to Flickr Commons

June—OMB issues Social Media guidance memos

July—USA.gov launches Apps.USA.gov to highlight mobile apps across government

August—First Fridays Usability Program conducts first test of Travel.state.gov

September—Challenge.gov launches; USA.gov releases iPhone app

November—HowTo.gov launches; First International Open Data Conference held in DC


February—DigitalGov Search becomes SaaS; grows 500% to serve 1,500 government websites by 2014

March—USA.gov URL Shortener launches

April—Second Customer Service Executive Order issued (first was in 1993)

June—OMB updates PRA guidance to allow Fast-Track reviews

July—Tweetup with @NASA for the final shuttle launch


April—Social Media Registry goes live

May—Digital Government Strategy released (separate content from presentation; improve customer experience w/digital services)

October—WCAG 2.0 accepted as ISO standard


May—Open Data Policy issued

October—NARA issues guidance on managing social media records


January—DigitalGov.gov soft-launches

March—Federal Web Managers Council provides “PRA Barriers and Solutions” recommendations to OMB; Customer Service Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goal issued to improve customer experience

May—First DigitalGov Summit

November— U.S. Digital Services Playbook released

December—U.S. Public Participation Playbook released

What’s your most memorable Digital Gov moment of the past decade? Tell us in the comments.