The Feds and Social Media II


Here’s an exciting development! Last week, I blogged about an encouraging report by Doug Belzer at Federal Computer Week, where he wrote about how Twitter, blogs and other Web 2.0 tools are revolutionizing government business. The General Services Administration had determined that Twitter’s standard terms of service is compatible with federal use.

Two days ago, Doug has another exciting article, this time in Government Computer News, about GSA announcing that it has signed agreements with Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo and that will allow federal agencies to use new-media tools. Agencies can now begin using these tools to better communicate, network and share information via the Web.

Chris Snyder at Wired’s Epicenter blog termed the move, “Web 2.0, meet dot-gov. Dot-gov, this is Web 2.0.” He’s right in calling it a “big step” for agencies attempting to become more transparent and interactive with citizens. “Now that the bureaucratic brush has been cleared, government agencies will be free, for example, to embed videos and create photo widgets that citizens can embed into their MySpace or Facebook pages,” he writes. An example of a government agency already using Web 2.0 tools successfully is the Centers for Disease Control alerting the public about the recent peanut better product recall.

Chris quotes Andrew Rasiej, founder of Personal Democracy Forum and Sunlight’s senior technology advisor, as saying it’s another example of why it really matters who’s president of the United States. “Because we have the country’s first tech president, the speed at which the government can catch up with the private sector and use of technology is exponential.”

Each individual agency will determine their own guidelines for how their employees can use the tools. “The new agreements make it easier for the government to provide official information to citizens via their method of choice,” according to GSA’s administrator, who is in discussions with other new-media providers. They started with these four because of their popularity and large number of users.

We’re excited about this development. You should be too.