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The GSA Blesses Web 2.0: Will Federal Agencies Rush On Social Networks?

by Andrea Di Maio  |  March 26, 2009  |  2 Comments

After a few months of negotiation, the US General Services Administration has signed agreements with four mainstream social media service providers, namely Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo and blip.tv.

As Federal Computer Week reports, the agreements “resolve legal concerns associated with many standard terms and conditions that pose problems for agencies, such as liability limits, endorsements and freedom of information”. In the announcement there is no mention of Facebook, which made the news about a month ago for being first banned and then re-admitted by the Maryland General Assembly. On the other hand, Twitter’s terms of service are already compatible with federal use.

These agreements pave the way for www.usa.gov and other federal government web sites to embrace web 2.0 innovation.  They are not new to this, though, as witnessed by information collected by GSA about the use of social media and web2.0 in the US federal government. What these and future agreements will do is to accelerate this trend, in line with the directions set by the new administration, and covered in previous posts in this blog.

Now that Web 2.0 receives the federal blessing, and agencies can start publishing information where people look for it, as well as venture into engaging with citizens through social media, they may underestimate the organizational impact as well as the nature of risks and how to minimize them.

Do not get me wrong here. I think this is very good news. But as we’ve gone through the skepticism phase, when government officials were keeping these social media at a distance (at most performing cautious pilots), now the risk is that they jump too fast into waters that may be deeper and colder than they expect. 

A few questions government officials planning the involvement of their agency in social media could ask themselves:

  • Do we have a code of practice for online participation, as an extension of the civil service code defining acceptable behaviors for government employees?
  • Do we have a framework to select social media and gradually engage with them (depending on out domain and what exactly we want to accomplish)?
  • Which techniques do we use to determine which information should be made available in an easily mashable form, and which external information we should or could mash up?
  • How do we decide whether or not to endorse a social media ?

And, of course, the list is much longer. Gartner clients may wish to look at our research on mashup matrix and social media selection framework for government.

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Category: e-government  social-networks-in-government  

Tags: gsa  mashup  web-20-in-government  

Andrea Di Maio
Managing VP
19 years at Gartner
33 years IT industry

Andrea Di Maio is a managing vice president for public sector in Gartner Research, covering government and education. His personal research focus is on digital government strategies, open government, the business value of IT, smart cities, and the impact of technology on the future of government Read Full Bio


Thoughts on The GSA Blesses Web 2.0: Will Federal Agencies Rush On Social Networks?


  1. Henry Brown says:

    IMO another BIG roadblock is going to be the perception of loss of control by the Policy/Security folks that PROBABLY won’t be removed until directed by ????

  2. […] the recent agreement with Youtube, Flickr and others(Gartner clients can read the relevant research note), the US General Services Administration has […]



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