Obama should embrace social media to create a more effective and transparent government
Yesterday, the Federal Web Managers Council (FWMC) of US Government published a report on "Social Media and the Federal Government: Perceived and Real Barriers and Potential Solutions." (PDF) . The paper adresses the perceived and real barriers to using social media and recommend potential solutions. Cultural issues, lack of a strategy for using these new tools, employee access to online tool, advertising, procurement, privacy, acess for people with disabilities and the administrative requirements during rulemaking: these are some of the barriers listed on the paper, wich purpuse is to "facilitate dialogue on these issues, both within and outside the government"
The report recomment the Obama Administration to communicate a government-wide strategy for using social media tools to create a more effective and transparent government. "The new Administration’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) should require each agency to, within three months, develop their own social media/Web 2.0 communications strategy that describes how it will use their agency website and the larger Web to accomplish its mission, reach new audiences, and engage the public. The strategy should include resources needed to accomplish these goals"
"We’ve seen that social media in government has become the number one topic of discussion within our government web manager community over the past year. The prospect of agencies using social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia, Twitter, and SecondLife has raised a myriad of legal, contractual, and policy questions. As the new Administration looks to leverage these new tools to create a more effective and transparent government, it’s an opportune time for us to share what we’ve learned and propose solutions for how to best use these new tools across government. These recommendations are based on our first-hand experience using social media within our own agencies and from hundreds of conversations with web managers across the country. Some agencies are already using social media tools with great success. They’ve shown how these tools can transform how we engage the public, include people in the governing process, and accomplish our agency missions. But many agencies are not using these tools, either because of perceived or real lack of resources, cultural resistance, or legal or other barriers."
A high-level mandate from Obama to quickly and radically transform government websites
On the "Guide to Manage US Governmental websites", we can already find examples of US federal gencies using social media to achieve mission and goals. Last November, the Federal Web Managers Council published the White Paper Written for the 2008 – 2009 Presidential Transition Team wich ecommends specific strategies for revolutionizing how the U.S. Government delivers online services to the American people. "Putting Citizens First: Transforming Online Government," (PDF) offers recommendations for transforming online government beyond social media.
"The importance of the Internet has grown exponentially over the last decade, but the government’s ability to provide online services to the American people hasn’t grown at the same pace. Building this capacity will present one of the biggest challenges—and most promising opportunities—for President-elect Obama. We need to build on the groundswell of citizen participation in the presidential campaign and make people’s everyday interactions with their government easier and more transparent. It won’t be an easy task. There are approximately 24,000 U.S. Government websites now online (but no one knows the exact number).
We’re working to address these problems. We’ve built a network of over 1,500 federal, state, and local web professionals across the country to share best practices; we created a large-scale training program for web managers; and we’re working to support the use of social media while also addressing important privacy, security, and legal implications.
A high-level mandate from the new Administration is needed to quickly and radically transform government websites. President-elect Obama should be able to promise the American people that when they need government information and services online, they will be able to:
- Easily find relevant, accurate, and up-to-date information;
- Understand information the first time they read it;
- Complete common tasks efficiently;
- Get the same answer whether they use the web, phone, email, live chat, read a brochure, or visit in-person;
- Provide feedback and ideas and hear what the government will do with them;
- Access critical information if they have a disability or aren’t proficient in English.
The recommendations below are designed to help the new Administration increase the efficiency, transparency, accountability, and participation between government and the American people."