If you’re like me, you’re sort of familiar with GSA. Aren’t they the Federal agency that manages procurement dollars and billions in federal assets (government-owned buildings, etc)? But did you know they’ve set up a program to help Federal agencies navigate the ever-evolving world of new media?
It’s called the Center for New Media & Citizen Engagement (yes, they know it’s a mouthful) and it’s housed within their Office of Citizen Services and Communications.
Their objective is simple: they want to improve the way Government talks to and engages citizens online. And here’s how they’re doing it: They’re offering up tools and technology, capacity building and standardized policies (on topics like privacy and accessibility) for the Federal Government’s 28 agencies.
For example, they want to make it easier for federal agencies to use new media while meeting their legal requirements. So, rather than each agency—like NASA or EPA – having to negotiate with YouTube or Flickr about terms of service, GSA is creating standardized agreements that everyone can use.
GSA is negotiating things like ethics, endorsements, privacy and security so you don’t have to. To date, they’ve signed 30 agreements with major providers like Bing, Facebook, Google Analytics, LinkedIn, Hulu and WordPress covering a myriad of topics (search, video sharing, social networking, photo sharing, blogging, etc.)
What else? GSA provided a free online “ideation tool” which can be used and shared across government. Sometimes called a crowdsourcing or “social voting tool”, it helps agencies analyze, absorb, and rank the public’s ideas. It was used as part of the Open Government process and is an innovative supplement to what agencies may already be doing to engage the public (in-person town halls, etc). Check out which agencies used this tool and who got the most visits: http://opengovtracker.com/
They also have a link on online contests and challenges where you can get “how to” tips, sample guidelines and case studies. And examples like DOL’s What Can You Do? or the State Department’s Change your Climate, Change your World.
Unfortunately, all of this is somewhat buried in GSA’s website — but they’re working on that too. For now, you can learn more by checking them out on Twitter at @GovNewMedia (link to http://twitter.com/GovNewMedia).