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GSA Creates Federal Social Media Registry

GSA has developed a new web-based tool that will allow anyone to check and see if a social media site is actually officially managed by the U.S. government. The goal is to have a central site where the public can verify if an account is real and sanctioned. They’re calling it the Social Media Registry. Initially, the registry will support 22 social services including Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Flickr among others.  Future updates are expected to expand on this list.

The registry will have 2 parts. The public facing site on (or for Spanish speakers) will allow you to paste in the URL of a social media account. You’ll then get a quick message letting you know whether the site has been registered or not.  Over on there will be a site for federal agencies to register their official social media outlets which can include accounts from elected officials, heads of agencies and cabinet members. Anyone with a .gov or .mil email address and a valid phone number will be able to update or add a record in the registry.

The registry will provide a resource for teachers, libraries, members of the media and anyone else to be sure what they are sharing with people is an actual credible source. This will also benefit agencies by creating a central place for each to keep track of social media accounts.

For all you techies that are wondering, the site was built using Ruby on Rails and the source code will be available on github. An API is available with documentation to allow developers to create their own lookup tools and widgets.

I was lucky enough to have attended an overview presentation and demo of the registry presented by the project team and hosted by GSA’s DigitalGov University. Here are some screenshots of the test site that was presented.


List of Federal-friendly Social Media Sites Keeps Growing

Did you know that there are now more than 40 no-cost social media providers with Terms of Service agreements for use by federal agencies?  This means federal agencies can use these sites without having to negotiate federal-friendly Terms of Service (TOS).  While this doesn’t mean that just anyone can just sign-up for WordPress and start blogging, it does pave the way for agencies to more easily take advantage of many free services.

There is currently a wide variety of “apps” available for use which are listed on GSA’s site.  The apps are categorized and include blog, wiki, mapping, and analytics tools.  Looking at the list, some definitely seem more “social” that other but you won’t hear me complaining.

Here’s the quick and dirty on how to get started:

  1. Go to to find a free app
  2. Click the Enroll button once you find the app you’re interested in
  3. Fill out the short request form to include a brief justification on how you intend to use the tool (Note: You’ll need to have a GSA Advantage! Account to do this, which can be easily created on the spot)
  4. There, you’re done.  Next you’ll get an email from your agency POC after the request has been evaluated.  Your agency POC can tell you if your agency is already using the product or service; if there’s a signed Terms of Service in place; and how you can coordinate efforts within your agency.  You can find your Agency POC here or just look at the box on the right hand side at the top of the request form and your POC will be listed.

Be sure and also check out the handy-dandy FAQs page GSA put together specifically for TOS questions.  It includes guidance on what to do for state or local agencies and other common questions.

USDA to Mix Social Media into Online Training

One of the leading online training programs in the federal
sector has an interesting idea to improve the completion rate and overall
quality of its online courses. The USDA’s AgLearn
has plans to install social media and “Facebook-style” aspects to
their training program in order to provide a more traditional classroom structure
to the emerging world of online training.
Some of these aspects include blogs, wikis, groups, and comment/user

OhMyGov recently spoke with Stanley Gray, the USDA’s
director of e-training, about this new idea and how it is coming along.

[Read More on OhMyGov]

Gov Blogger Position Open at CPSC

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently posted a job announcement for a Public Affairs Specialist focusing in Social Media.  The person in this position will serve as the Media Coordinator and will be responsible for creating blogs and other social media content for the CPSC.  The salary starts at $86k with a duty location of Bethesda, MD.  Any US citizen can apply.  The deadline is Oct. 20th.  See the full announcement on USA Jobs for more information.

The CPSC has already gotten its feet wet in the new media arena with presences on Twitter, Flickr, and Youtube.

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Federal Agreements with Social Media Providers Released

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request in April by the Electronic Information Privacy Center (EPIC), the GSA has released the “Web 2.0 agreements” that were generated by the agency on behalf of the federal government with many social media providers in March of 2009.  The release includes contracts with, Blist, YouTube, Flickr, and MySpace and the amendments to the Facebook, Slideshare, Vimeo, and AddThis Terms of Service.  It seems that while these agreements may resolve legal concerns associated with many standard terms and conditions that pose problems for agencies, such as liability limits, endorsements and freedom of information, the contracts with the GSA consistently omit statements concerning Web 2.0 service providers’ obligations to protect privacy.

Read More: Privacy and Government Contracts with Social Media Companies

Related Post: Government Social Media Provider Update


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Government Social Media Service Provider Update

In May of this year, the U.S. General Services Administration negotiated Terms Of Service (TOS) with several big social media providers.  The goal was to arrive at a TOS federal agencies would be comfortable enough with to sign so each agency – and provider – would be spared from negotiating separate TOS agreements. The White House and GSA have now also negotiated Terms of Service agreements with nine additional social media providers:

Cooliris (video and picture browsing)
Dipity (multimedia timelines)
FriendFeed (social networking aggregator)
IdeaScale (voting and feedback)
MixedInk (collaborative writing)
Scribd (social publishing)
TubeMogul (video analytics and distribution)
TwitVid (video sharing)
Wikispaces (collaboration)

This brings the total number of agreements to 19, including previous agreements with AddThis,, Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, Slideshare, Socrata (formerly Blist), Twitter, Vimeo, and YouTube.

You can read more about the Federal TOS agreements on

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New York State Launches Web 2.0 Initiatives

On June 5, the New York State Office for Technology announced Empire 2.0, a strategy to encourage state agencies to use “Web 2.0, new media, and social collaborative tools and technologies” to improve communication and services, and facilitate transparency and openness in government.New York State Tech Talk

The Office for Technology is leading the way. Since May it has launched its own Facebook and Twitter accounts, a wiki for developing IT policy and strategy, and crowdsourcing Web page that collects pubic comments and ideas for future projects.

[Read More] Launches Online Metrics Dashboard launched the first phase of an online metrics dashboard to provide an enterprise view of key performance indicators for CDC’s cdcWeb site, social media and Web 2.0 products. This tool will assist with tracking and evaluating the impact of Web-based health communications. The new metrics dashboard can be found at

In meeting the new Administration’s policies regarding transparency and open government, is one of the first agencies within the Federal Web Managers Council Web Metrics Task Group to announce launch of an online metrics dashboard. 

Metrics and top-line analyses included in this phase of the Metrics Dashboard, covering FY 09, are as follows:

  • Overall Page Views, Page Visits, Time Spent and Web Campaigns
  • Customer Satisfaction Scores
  • eHealth Products: Web 2.0 Tools
  • Top Search Keywords (Internal and External)
  • Top Referrers (Inbound Links) to
  • Most Popular Pages on

The dashboard will be updated quarterly. The next dashboard update will include metrics for: CDC’s eHealth and Emergency Preparedness Twitter sites, CDC MySpace, and CDC-INFO. Plans are underway to include a Dashboard module on NCHPI’s BioPHusion Beta Portal.

Questions? Contact .

Starting your own Facebook- Lessons Learned from NASA's Spacebook Project

NASA is building a social network for Goddard Space Flight Center, codenamed “Spacebook”.

Spacebook Prototype

Spacebook Prototype

Spacebook is an enhanced Intranet designed around user profiles, forums, groups, and social tagging. The goal of the project is to use social media to help NASA be more competitive and innovative, encourage collaboration and information sharing, and take better advantage of the information & resources they already have. Emma Antunes (@eantunes), Project Manager for Spacebook, recently gave a great webinar to share how she approached this project, got the buy-in from users, contractors, and management, and other invaluable lessons she learned in getting this implemented.

I’ve capture my takeaways from her presentation on implementing an internal social network and listed them below.

  • Get buy-in from the suits.  You need a champion in a senior management office to sponsor the project.  Get them excited about what you’re doing.  This allows you to engage them to remove any roadblocks and they can give the bossy stink eye when needed.
  • Approach it like any other technical project; Design first, technology second.  Focus on solving a business problem.  Don’t just jump into new media because it’s what the cool kids are doing.
  • Be proactive.  Get your legal support, privacy office, security group, and accessibility team involved at the jump off.  Miss the boat on one of these areas and your project could get shut down faster than the revised Facebook Terms of Service.
  • Use exisiting resources where you can.  This increases management buy-in because you’re not asking for additional funding right of the bat.  Try to re-prioritize existing developer staff and take advantage of internal hosting, existing contracts, and open-source software.
  • Take the perspective of the employee to really understand what user needs are.  What’s going on?  What’s in it for me? How can I participate?  How do I get answers to my questions?
  • Don’t expect people to change their processes unless you give them a big incentive.  If you build it they won’t come, if you make their job easier, they will.  The new process must be easier than the old one.
  • Get web developers out of the content game.  They don’t want to do it and you don’t want to have to ask them for updates.  And honestly, they cost too much money anyway.  Let the people in charge of the material manage it.
  • No content should exist without an owner.  Integrate and complement content that you already have.  Don’t just replicate it in a new forum that requires additional maintenance.
  • Don’t give someone another inbox they won’t check, a new username and password to enter, make them request a new account, or fill-in information that you already know.
  • Engage early adopters and group owners and get commitment from them to post content regularly.
  • Even if your audience is a bunch of twenty-somethings, you still need to train them.  We may like technology but, we hate extra work.  Show me how I can use your product to make my job easier.

Related Reads:

The Facebook Phenomenon – How Government is Getting Into The Act,  on Socialfeds.

Up, Up, and Away! Five Tips for Launching an Internal Network, by Zack Miller (@zgovernment) on Govloop.

Kiss of Death for Social Networking Projects: “What is your Business Case?”, by Brock Webb on Govloop.

The Elements of Social Architecture, by Christina Wodtke on A List Apart. – Social Networking for Small Business

A new social networking Web site designed for small-business owners is now on the Small Business Administration’s site, agency officials announced today. Community was launched about a month ago and has nearly 900 registered users, said Nancy Sternberg, the program manager of SBA’s Business Gateway, the agency’s organization that runs the site.

Registered users on the community site are able to post and respond to questions and dialogues, Sternberg said.

Read more at Federal Computer Week.