At the beginning of 2017, the ITIF (Information Technology and Innovation Foundation) released a report that benchmarked 300 federal websites in four areas: page-load speed, mobile friendliness, security and accessibility. Some sites fared better than others, but the report highlighted that our federal sites have a ways to go (DigitalGov included) in these areas. Looking at these four metrics is important as they directly impact our customers’ first perceptions of the quality of our government’s digital services.
With the recent launch of the Core Federal Services Council—which seeks to improve the customer experience for core federal programs by ensuring use of customer feedback data and identifying strategies—building on the Feedback USA pilot, the Federal Front Door and other customer experience initiatives, 2016 may in fact be the Year of the Customer. But, how do we ensure these efforts can build momentum and lead to meaningful change in government?
Armed with the knowledge that ‘most studies suggest that losses are twice as powerful, psychologically, as gains,’ federal change agents can better prepare for possible cultural resistance as they begin to implement agile practices at their agencies. There are a variety of resistant-to-change personas (change is painful for most of us, but we dislike it in different ways) those seeking change will need to understand to be successful. Bill Brantley, ‘agile OG,’ from the U.
The concepts of agile may not be new, but there is a renewed push across government to embrace this customer-feedback driven methodology, in everything from software development to project management. A government community has even sprung up to help feds learn from one another what it takes to incorporate agile into more efficient and effective government services. So this month we’re throwing the spotlight on what agile looks like in the federal government right now:
The Department of Transportation (DOT) has invited transit agencies to share their schedule data to feed an upcoming National Transit Map. The new initiative won’t provide trip planning, but will make it possible for researchers, policymakers, and private citizens to identify and address gaps in access to public transportation. These gaps will be identified through the collection of transit data (including where transit stops are, how frequent transit service is, and where transit routes go.
This week, President Obama will travel to SxSW (South by Southwest) to talk about how we can use technology to tackle tough challenges. This underscores how important data—government data, in particular—is to improving and fueling our democracy forward. 2015 saw many open data milestones by agencies, including: New advancements in HHS’s syndication storefront New features to analytics.usa.gov dashboard (now with agency-specific dashboards USPTO’s PatentsView Education’s New College Scorecard FEMA’s new Data Visualization Tool APIs from FEC , Labor and NASA (to name a few) There is also more to come (and more that’s needed).
You can now help your audience stay up-to-date on the Zika virus outbreak—and others—through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s microsite, which is an easily embeddable collection of virus information for your agency’s website. The Zika Virus Microsite is automatically updated on your site in real time as CDC updates existing Zika Web pages, according to the CDC. Staying current is made easy and maintenance-free. The microsite is built with Zika content, however the CDC now has the ability to quickly assemble additional embeddable collections that you can use on your site.
Paying incentives to test participants is standard practice in research and usability testing. While some people may be willing to participate for free, many aren’t. Incentive payments help ensure people will take the time to travel to your office and give you 30, 60 or even 90 minutes of their time. However, government researchers and user experience specialists have limitations on how—and how much—they can pay participants. Recently, federal user experience practitioners discussed the mechanics of how to get the right payments to the right people for the right research.
In this age of content marketing that has led publications to call certain ads “paid content,” those of us in government need to broaden our ideas about what “content” is. Many of us get it, but some agencies may also be missing opportunities because they don’t even grasp that content is a broad and fluid thing. Everything is content, not just words on a website. The federal agencies we commonly highlight fully get that and understand that a variety of content can achieve a goal.
With January, and the tearing off of the old calendar, comes the annual taking stock of where we’ve been in the last year and where we can go in the year ahead. So for this month’s editorial theme, we’re taking a closer look at what we think 2016 will bring for digital government—from mobile and content, to open data and accessibility. If our “prognosticators” are correct, this year will be the year when apps become more Web-like; video could overtake social media as the preferred method to communicate; and the number of sensors providing real-time access to (government) data will dramatically increase…just to name a few.
As we look ahead to 2016, we wanted to take a minute to look at our most popular content in 2015 and reflect on our second year. This was a big year for DigitalGov as we saw our session traffic nearly double and our weekly and daily email subscribers increase by 15%. DigitalGov was also named as a 2015 must-read blog by FedTech magazine, which is due to the great contributions from our guest authors, representing 42 agencies and departments across the federal government!
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is looking for agency subject matter experts (SMEs) to participate in an occupational study of the Public Affairs Series 1035. OPM is accepting SME submissions until Wednesday, December 9th. The study will review the “current classification and qualification standards for public affairs work” and allow OPM to make any revisions or updates. OPM is interested to learn from agencies how public affairs work has changed since the current position classification standard was issued in 1981.
The use of social media for federal services and interactions is growing tremendously, supported by initiatives from the administration, directives from government leaders, and demands from the public. This situation presents both opportunity and risk. Guidelines and recommendations for using social media technologies in a manner that minimizes the risk are analyzed and presented in this document. View Guidelines for Secure Use of Social Media Related Links OMB Memorandum M-13-10: Antideficiency Act Implications of Certain Online Terms of Service Agreements (PDF, 1.
The head of the agency delegates to the CIO a number of information security responsibilities. The CIO in turn designates a senior agency information security officer. View Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 Presentation to the 2003 FISSEA Conference Related Links OMB M-04-25 Reporting Instructions for the Federal Information Security Management Act (PDF, 269 KB, 28 pages, August 2004) OMB M-05-04, Policies for Federal Agency Public Websites (PDF, 48 KB, 5 pages, December 2004) NIST Guidelines on Securing Public Web Servers (PDF, 960 KB, 142 pages, September 2007) E-Government Act of 2002 (Section 207) OMB Circular A-130 Appendix III, Management of Federal Information Resources See more DigitalGov Resources
The World Wide Web (WWW) is a system for exchanging information over the Internet. At the most basic level, the Web can be divided into two principal components: Web servers, which are applications that make information available over the Internet (in essence, publish information), and Web browsers (clients), which are used to access and display the information stored on the Web servers. This document focuses on the security issues of Web servers.
This memorandum provides updated instructions for agency reporting under the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA). Agency Chief Information Officers and Inspectors General have also received a copy of the attached instructions. View FY 2004 Reporting Instructions for the Federal Information Security Management Act Related Links OMB M-04-15 Reporting Instructions for the Federal Information Security Management Act (PDF, 269 KB, 28 pages, August 2004) NIST Guidelines on Securing Public Web Servers (PDF, 960 KB, 142 pages, September 2007) Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002: FISMA Presentation to 2003 FISSEA Conference (PDF, 62.
This Bulletin provides high-level record keeping requirements and best practices for capturing records created when federal agencies use social media. The use of social media may create Federal records that must be captured and managed in compliance with Federal records management laws, regulations, and policies. This Bulletin does not contain platform-specific social media capture guidance. View NARA guidance on Managing Social Media Records Related Links * NARA guidance for implementing Section 207(e) of the E-Gov Act NARA guidance on managing web records OMB M-05-04, Policies for Federal Agency Public Websites (PDF, 48 KB, 5 pages, December 2004) E-Government Act of 2002 (Section 207) See more DigitalGov Resources
Managing web records properly is essential to effective web site operations, especially the mitigation of the risks an agency faces by using the web to carry out agency business. This guidance will assist agency officials in this regard, including agency program staff, webmasters, IT staff, and other agency officials who have a role in web site management and administration. View NARA guidance on Managing Web Records Related Links NARA guidance for implementing Section 207(e) of the E-Gov Act NARA Bulletin 2014-02 Guidance on managing social media records (October 2013) OMB M-05-04, Policies for Federal Agency Public Websites (PDF, 48 KB, 5 pages, December 2004) E-Government Act of 2002 (Section 207) See more DigitalGov Resources
This bulletin provides Federal agencies with the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) approach to improve the management of electronic records, including web records, as directed by Section 207(e) of the E-Government Act of 2002. All electronic records created and received by agencies are subject to the same existing statutory and regulatory records management requirements as records in other formats and on other media. View NARA Guidance for Implementing Section 207(e) of the E-Government Act of 2002
Subchapter B of the CFR specifies polices for federal agencies records management programs relating to proper records creation and maintenance, adequate documentation, and records disposition. View Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Parts 1220-1238 Related Links NARA guidance for implementing Section 207(e) of the E-Gov Act NARA guidance on managing web records NARA Bulletin 2014-02 Guidance on managing social media records (October 2013) OMB M-05-04, Policies for Federal Agency Public Websites (PDF, 48 KB, 5 pages, December 2004) E-Government Act of 2002 (Section 207) See more DigitalGov Resources
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule,imposes certain requirements on operators of websites or online services directed to children under 13 years of age, and on operators of other websites or online services that have actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information online from a child under 13 years of age. View Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (“COPPA”) Related Links OMB M-15-13, Policy to Require Secure Connections across Federal Websites and Web Services (PDF, 258 KB, 5 pages, June 2015) Requirements for Accepting Externally Issued Identity Credentials (PDF, 166 KB, 4 pages, October 2011) OMB M-10-22, Guidance for Online Use of Web Measurement and Customization Technologies (PDF, 130 KB, 9 pages, June 2010) OMB M-10-23, Guidance for Agency Use of Third-Party Websites and Applications (PDF, 78 KB, 9 pages, June 2010) OMB M-03–22, Guidance for Implementing the Privacy Provisions of the E–Government Act of 2002 (September 2003) OMB Circular A–130 Appendix 1 OMB M-05-04, Policies for Federal Agency Public Websites (PDF, 48 KB, 5 pages, December 2004) E-Government Act of 2002 (Section 207) Privacy Act of 1974 See more DigitalGov Resources
Appendix I to OMB Circular No. A-130 Federal Agency Responsibilities for Maintaining Records About Individuals
This Appendix describes agency responsibilities for implementing the reporting and publication requirements of the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. 552a. It applies to all agencies subject to the Act. View Appendix I to OMB Circular No. A-130 Federal Agency Responsibilities for Maintaining Records About Individuals Related Resources OMB M-15-13, Policy to Require Secure Connections across Federal Websites and Web Services (PDF, 258 KB, 5 pages, June 2015) Requirements for Accepting Externally Issued Identity Credentials (PDF, 166 KB, 4 pages, October 2011) OMB M-10-22, Guidance for Online Use of Web Measurement and Customization Technologies (PDF, 130 KB, 9 pages, June 2010) OMB M-10-23, Guidance for Agency Use of Third-Party Websites and Applications (PDF, 78 KB, 9 pages, June 2010) OMB M-03–22, Guidance for Implementing the Privacy Provisions of the E–Government Act of 2002(September 2003) OMB M-05-04, Policies for Federal Agency Public Websites (PDF, 48 KB, 5 pages, December 2004) Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) E-Government Act of 2002 (Section 207) Privacy Act of 1974 See more DigitalGov Resources
This Memorandum requires Federal agencies to take specific steps to protect individual privacy whenever they use third-party websites and applications to engage with the public. View Guidance for Agency Use of Third-Party Websites and Applications Related Links President’s Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government Open Government Directive OMB’s Guidance for Online Use of Web Measurement and Customization Technologiesm-10-22-guidance-for-online-use-of-web-measurement-and-customization-technologies/) Social Media, Web Based Technologies, and the Paperwork Reduction Act See more DigitalGov Resources
The No FEAR Act requires a Federal agency to post on its public Web site summary statistical data pertaining to complaints of employment discrimination filed under 29 CFR part 1614 by employees, former employees and applicants for employment. View NO FEAR Act See more DigitalGov Resources
This memorandum provides Resource Management Offices and PMA Initiative Leads with instructions for preparing for the quarterly PMA scorecard meetings to discuss agencies’ status and progress in implementing the PMA for the period January 1, 2008 through March 31, 2008. View Guidance on President’s Management Agenda Scorecard Meetings See more DigitalGov Resources
The Executive Order 13571 on Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service “requires agencies that provide significant services directly to the public to identify and survey their customers, establish service standards and track performance against those standards, and benchmark customer service performance against the best in business.” View Executive Order 13571–Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service Related Links M-11-24 Implementing Executive Order 13571 on Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service See more DigitalGov Resources
M-11-24 Implementing Executive Order 13571 on Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service
Memo M-11-24 is guidance to Implement Executive Order 13571. In order to “keep pace with the public’s expectations and to respond to budget pressures that demand we do more with less, the Federal Government must deliver services better, faster, and at lower cost.” This memo helps to guide agencies in doing that. View M-11-24 Implementing Executive Order 13571 on Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service Related Links Executive Order 13571–Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service See more DigitalGov Resources
Over the past few years, many agencies have learned how to do user experience (UX) with few resources. And while that’s still a problem at many agencies, many UX initiatives have been gaining momentum and attracting new stakeholders. Federal-wide efforts like the Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST) and the U.S. Digital Service’s (USDS) promotion of good design principles, such as 18F’s recently-released Web Design Standards, show just how far this effort has come.
On January 21, 2009, the President issued a memorandum calling for the establishment of “a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration.” The memorandum required an Open Government Directive to be issued by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), instructing “executive departments and agencies to take specific actions implementing the principles set forth in this memorandum.” OMB’s Open Government Directive requires a series of measures to promote the commitments to transparency, participation, and collaboration.
M-11-26 New Fast-Track Process for Collecting Service Delivery Feedback Under the Paperwork Reduction Act
The new Paperwork Reduction Act Fast Track Process will allow agencies to obtain timely feedback on service delivery while ensuring that the information collected is useful and minimally burdensome for the public, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. Related Links What is a Terms of Service Agreement? Information on Federal Compatible Terms of Service List of Federal Terms of Service Agreements See more DigitalGov Resources
The 2012 Digital Government Strategy mission drives agencies, and the need to deliver better services to customers at a lower cost—whether an agency is supporting the warfighter overseas, a teacher seeking classroom resources, or a family figuring out how to pay for college is pushing every level of government to look for new solutions. The Digital Government Strategy complements several initiatives aimed at building a 21st century government that works better for the American people.
The E-Government Act of 2002 (Pub.L. 107–347, 116 Stat. 2899, 44 U.S.C. § 101, H.R. 2458/S. 803), is a United States statute enacted on December 17, 2002, with an effective date for most provisions of April 17, 2003. Its stated purpose is to improve the management and promotion of electronic government services and processes by establishing a Federal Chief Information Officer within the Office of Management and Budget, and by establishing a framework of measures that require using Internet-based information technology to improve citizen access to government information and services, and for other purposes.
We are awash in data. Data in our personal lives gives us information on everything from our nightly sleeping patterns to how many of our friends shared our latest quip on social media. So too in our professional world, where we can see the most popular devices people use to navigate our websites and are told which time of day is the best to send out our communications. All of this data can help us make smart decisions that will ultimately provide our customers with a better experience—but only if we know what our end goals are and what metrics we need to measure to get there.
No one likes to be told no. This is especially true at work, when you’re moving toward something that you feel is in the best interest of your customers. But so often in government, our forward progress gets slowed down by others in our organization who we think “just don’t get it”—namely those in content, legal, procurement and security. A group of self-proclaimed naysayers came together to dispel myths and share advice to help everyone work together, during a panel discussion at the second annual DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit, held in May.
How can government protect citizens while delivering the services they demand in the modern age? This was a theme of the panel discussion on privacy and identity management at the 2015 DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit. “Cybersecurity has really come a long way in the last 10 years, unifying the conversation about risk across organizations,” said Sean Brooks, panelist and privacy engineer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), “but privacy has really lagged behind.
Seven million dollars is a big price tag. That is the amount Forbes predicts organizations will spend on analytics-related initiatives in 2015, according to a recent report. While government agencies may not have big budgets for data analysis, we do have tons of data—survey data, usability data, campaign data—that should be leveraged to drive decisions. This idea was the subject of a panel discussion during the second annual DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit, held in May.
In this digital age, we know customers expect their government interactions to be on the same level as their interactions with the private sector. Agencies are always striving to improve the quality of their services to meet their customers’ needs. So too in our office, where we use the feedback, you, our agency customers, provide to help us improve our programs. For this month’s theme, we are looking at how some of our services can help you better meet the needs of your customers.
Good content drives your digital presence. No matter what you produce content for—social media, websites, blogs—getting people to see your work is critical. But getting noticed is not as easy as it used to be. A recent Vox article on the future of blogging talked about this problem: “The incentives of the social Web make it a threat to the conversational Web. The need to create content that ‘travels’ is at war with the fact that great work often needs to be rooted in a particular place and context—a place and context that the reader and the author already share.
In January on DigitalGov, we’ll highlight pieces looking at trends we see coming in the digital government space in 2015 and beyond. We have lined up articles around: Customer Service Data 3D Printing at NIH and NASA Accessibility Mobile, and Training. Check back Monday, when we kick-off the month with 15 Government Customer Service Trends. And you can look at some of our most recent monthly theme articles in: crowdsourcing, user experience, and mobile.
As we round out 2014, we’re reflecting on the exciting year we’ve had at DigitalGov since we launched in February. Our mission is to share information and resources from agencies across the federal government that are working in the digital space, and highlight the services and communities that can help you meet your digital government goals. We look forward to bringing you more great content in 2015, but first we wanted to highlight the most popular articles on DigitalGov this year.
Shortcuts, Vanity or Marketing URLs, are all names for the requests Web managers get to shorten Web addresses. The shortened links make it easy to share long links as well as track clicks on those links. On a recent discussion thread on the Web Managers listserv, several agencies offered the criteria they use to manage the requests and we’ve compiled it below. NIAID Criteria At the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the New Media and Web Policy Branch developed the following guidance for Internet and Intranet URLs:
Outdated development practices and narrow interpretations of acquisition regulations have prevented the federal government from taking advantage of technologies that can help agencies deliver better digital services to the public. OMB is developing new tools to help you take advantage of existing procurement authorities in the FAR, or the Federal Acquisition Regulation, the nearly 2,000 page bible that guides federal purchasing, including: TechFAR Handbook (highlights flexibilities in the FAR) Innovative Contract Case Studies (describes how agencies are getting more innovation per tax dollar, under existing laws and regs) Take a look at these tools and share them with your contracting officers.
We wanted to learn a little more about the Office of Women’s Health at FDA, where Alison Lemon, the SocialGov Community Knowledge Manager, works. So we sat down with Alison and learned about the interesting social media approach her office has taken, some of the thinking behind their strategy and what she sees as the future of social media in government. You can also follow her office’s work @FDAWomen.
During the recent redesign of Data.gov, the team developed a process that helped them respond to public feedback, track the actions and hold themselves accountable. In a DigitalGov University webinar, “Designing in the Open—Public Participation in Government Web Design,” Phil Ashlock, chief architect at Data.gov, and Jeanne Holm, Data.gov evangelist, shared how integrating feedback from virtual, online and face-to-face testing, as well as across multiple social media platforms, helped dramatically change the design in the response to the needs of their users.
DigitalGov Search recently rolled out a new open source technology stack, which gives the team access to real-time analytics and dashboards to monitor search trends. The ELK stack consists of Elasticsearch, a real-time search and analytics engine; Logstash, a log management tool; and Kibana, a data visualization engine for creating dashboards. The dashboard-building capabilities surface trends not seen otherwise when buried in the data, Ammie Farraj Feijoo, manager of DigitalGov Search said in a recent article in GCN.
Our digital gov neighbors in the U.K. have been working on their own digital strategy, including the consolidating into a single website. When the GOV.UK team introduced social sharing buttons, that allow users to post a link to the page on Facebook or Twitter, on their pages, it wasn’t in response to audience request, but as an experiment. And after two and a half months, they decided to do some analysis.
With the 25th anniversary of the Web, we wanted to share stories from the beginnings of Web in the federal government and how online government has evolved in the years since. The State Department may have been one of the first, in 1991, with a bulletin board presence launched thru the Government Printing Office, according to Janice Clark, Director in the Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs.
What is a Challenge? In a challenge, a “seeker” challenges “solvers” to identify a solution to a particular problem, or rewards contestants for accomplishing a goal. The solutions may be: ideas, designs, logos, videos, finished products, digital games, or mobile applications. There are many challenge success stories in government: Challenges Conducted Under America COMPETES Act Authority (PDF, 486 KB, 53 pages, March 2012) Success Stories Compiled in Conjunction with the Challenge.
As the definition of “developer” has grown and expanded, GitHub has become a place where anyone can do simple collaboration. It’s a free social network that tracks changes to any data, not just code, where stakeholders and developers can work on the same data simultaneously. Project Open Data, a cross-agency initiative developed by the White House, that looks at how to manage information as an asset in the 21st century, is powered by GitHub.
_This post was originally published on the IDEA Lab blog by Read Holman, HHS Innovation Advisor to the Chief Technology Officer and an Intrapreneur working in the HHS IDEA Lab._ Launched last year in “beta” by Secretary Sebelius, HHS Ignite supports early-stage projects that can be completed in tight time frames. Ignite is part of HHS’s IDEA Lab, which was established to improve how the Department delivers on its mission and promote advances in organizational management.
Here are some tools and templates to help you create better user experiences. If you have resources to add, please email us. Usability and User Experience Presentations: User-Centered Design Presentation (PPT, 5.4 MG, 40 slides, Nov 2013) and Recorded Video Introduction to Hallway Usability Testing (Video) Usability Test: Usability Testing Script (DOC, 81 KB, 6 pages, November 2013) (and Spanish Version) (MS Word, 39.5 KB, 2 pages, November 2013) Recording Consent Form (DOC, 23 KB, 1 page, November 2013) Instructions for usability test observers (DOC, 26.
It’s always best to test a product BEFORE you release it. So the best time to evaluate the usability of a product is as early as possible, including when you are creating wireframes and prototypes. But even if you’ve gone past that point (or even if your site is live) you can still find points of user frustration and fix them through a usability test or evaluation. If you are considering running a usability test or other user experience service – great!
The DigitalGov User Experience Program presents to federal audiences by phone, webinar and in person. We cover a variety of topics, including: User Centered Design and Usability Best (and Worst) Practices on Government Websites How to Improve Federal Digital Services and more Potential audiences include: CIOs and management Program managers Content teams Developers User Experience staff Email the DigitalGov User Experience Program team to invite them to speak at your agency.
Like any valid business decision, User Experience work should produce results and demonstrable impact. To see a list of screenshots from websites we’ve improved, visit the rest of our Usability Case Studies. Or see a more complete case study below. Case Study: Fueleconomy.gov Mobile Site In December of 2012 the U.S. Department of Energy contacted us for help with their fueleconomy.gov mobile site. They wanted to conduct some user research to understand their customer’s needs, and then run a user test (also called a usability test) to see how people actually interacted with the site.
This list of government usability case studies shows how government sites, mobile apps and other products become more effective, more coherent and more usable by focusing on the User Experience of their customers. Want to be featured here? Just email us. National Cancer Institute Persona Development Case Study: NCI and Spanish Language Outreach Gathered qualitative and quantitative user data Identified key values, beliefs, and language practices of Latino users Developed personas about Spanish-speaking users Environmental Protection Agency
We want to help you make better digital products. We believe that a little user research makes government a lot better. DigitalGov’s user experience resources provide tools for federal employees on how to: Make products and services more user-friendly Save money via user research Create successful experiences Four User Experience Resources to Help You: 1. Usability Starter Kit Get help creating your own usability tests, download presentations you can use, get templates and more in our Usability Starter Kit.
Do you know what the most important technology will be 12 years from now, in 2025? A recent report on Disruptive Technologies from McKinsey & Company predicts a number of evolving technologies that will have the biggest impact in the next decade or so, including for government agencies. Disruptive technologies are those that have the potential to disrupt the status quo, alter the way people live and work, rearrange “value pools” and lead to entirely new products and services, the report says.