Saturday, May 29, 2010

Government 2.0 Expo - Part Two

The conclusion of the Government 2.0 Expo left me inspired and appreciating the strides that the government and industry have taken to create and implement better applications and policies that truly move government towards transparency as well as more collaboration among its constituents.

My lasting impression is that while many government agencies that "get it" have adopted social media policies to begin using these tools, the progress and innovation that has taken place has been due to a small minority (although rapidly growing number of government stakeholders) who rebelled against the status quo culture of their organization in order to implement something new.

This theme was repeated again and again in the keynote speeches, but nowhere was it quite as obvious than in the talk by Price Floyd, Special Advisor for International Communication, Department of Defense. In his talk, Floyd reiterated the need to embrace social media tools as a way to engage a broader audience. He spoke specifically about how the lack of policy should not dictate a lack of action. I strongly urge you to listen to the presentation he gave to get a sense of how the U.S. Department of Defense was able to go from one extreme (the banning of most social media sites) to a very open policy allowing soldiers, civilians and their families to communicate using these tools and the implementation of these tools in strategic communications plans.

Finally, it's not just in the defense world that social media tools are enhancing communications. In what was one of the most interesting keynote speeches, Mary Davie, Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Assisted Acquisition Services (AAS) in GSA's Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), spoke about the GSA's initiative towards collaboration and engagement with industry and government subject matter experts in order to facilitate better and smarter acquisitions. Any company interested in winning government contracts should view Davie's presentation to learn more about the BetterBuy program and the collaborative wiki that seeks to engage all stakeholders earlier in the procurement process.

I left the Gov 2.0 Expo with a sense that there will be a continued and accelerated adoption of more Web 2.0 technologies by government agencies in the months to come. What started out as pockets of innovation and adoption seem to be growing into a mass movement where the benefits of engagement, collaboration and transparency far outweigh the detractors' arguments against these ever-evolving technologies.

Want to see more presentations from this year's Gov 2.0 Expo? Check out O'Reilly Media's YouTube Channel.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Government 2.0 Expo - Part One

For the last two days, I have been attending the Government 2.0 Expo at the Washington Convention Center. It has been an inspiring event looking at the application of new technologies in the public sector. I'm only halfway into my second day, but I thought I would share with you some high-level observations of the conference so far.

The keynotes have been inspiring and I strongly encourage anyone who has any interest in how our government is using Web 2.0 technology to check out the conference videos. It is well worth your time.

My general observations:
  • Cloud Computing: The Federal Cloud Computing Initiative (FCCI) is behind the strong cloud application focus. The belief is cloud computing will allow government agencies to be more efficient and facilitate transparent, collaborative and participatory government. This is quite a departure from a few years ago. The government seems to be moving away from hardware discussions and to practical application and engagement tools to facilitate the Open Government Initiative. What's inspiring about this is that there is no shortage or seemingly no limits to the types of interactions and engagement that can be developed and used by all stakeholders to make accessing government data, services and programs easier and more user friendly.
  • Say 'YES' to Passion and Creativity: Sounds crazy, but the reality of it is that I've seen more case studies here about successful government projects that REALLY challenged if not disregarded the dry approach of government communications. THAT'S A GOOD THING. For example, the City of Bryan, TX, turned their annual water quality report into a calendar for citizens that not only included report highlights, but also the real government employees in charge of keeping the city's water system safe. It is a FABULOUS example of government communications being presented in a straightforward and fun manner while celebrating the employees who work hard everyday.
  • Help Wanted: It could take 12-18 months for a program to be implemented after a government contract award is given. What is fascinating are the examples of using contests and open development to drive government innovation. For example, The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Developers Initiative opened up five of the city's bus line route information to developers to see if they could build applications to inform the public. The results were astonishing. In just two months, more than a dozen applications had been built by developers including smartphone apps, SMS services, a phone system, and event an LED sign. The outcome was so amazing, that MassDOT is opening the data for all 180+ bus routes to continue innovation.
  • Another example of this call for innovation can be seen in the numerous public-private partnerships that are driving citizen engagement. A partnership with between NASA, JPL-Caltech and Microsoft drove the creation of the Be A Martian website. The purpose of the website is for the public to participate as citizen scientists to improve Martian maps, take part in research tasks, and assist Mars science teams studying data about the Red Planet. Websites like this not only educate, but provide an opportunity for collaboration.
  • Adoption is going to be fast. Greater government adoption of Web 2.0 technologies and applications is within sight. The tipping point for almost all levels of government to actively participate and engage with the public is not far behind. There is a palpable energy driving the adoption of these tools and infinite possibilities to make our government, cities, towns and our world a better place with the proper development, execution and oversight of these tools. Now is the time to start to contribute and become involved.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Reaching Government Stakeholders with Digital Assets

While most companies seeking to target the government market have established specific federal sector websites, more companies are enhancing their social media presence and developing additional digital assets such as interactive widgets, quizzes, and videos to effectively reach government decision makers. Firewalls and IT policies, however, may not allow the government audience to see your latest tools to promote your services, products or events. It's a frustrating scenario for companies looking to engage with federal audiences.

Fortunately for federal sector marketers, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has made it simpler to understand what federal agencies can utilize to reach constituents online and therefore what government agencies should be able to see when it comes to online content. is an online resource for government employees that provides guidance and access to available solutions under the government's new cloud computing initiative. Listed are business, productivity, and social media applications that government agencies can use to carry out their own communication activities. What this means to companies looking to market to the government is that the social media services listed are most likely (but not always) the types of platforms that government decision makers will be able to view behind government firewalls. Companies looking to reach government audiences online should check to get an idea of what the government is using to reach constituents to effectively develop digital assets and tools for government stakeholders.

Not all government agencies may utilize or have need for all the resources listed on Each individual government agency must use these tools in accordance with its own policies, procedures and other federal mandates. Nonetheless, is a valuable information resource for federal sector marketers and communicators.

Interested in getting your company's services on Check out the Vendor FAQ to learn more.

UPDATE: On May 25, 2010, the GSA launched to provide federal agencies and the American public valuable information about the federal transition to cloud computing including available cloud services, examples of best practices, and updates from the Federal Cloud Computing Initiative. You can learn more about the site here.