Collaboration, transparency

Government 2.0, as defined on Wikipedia  is neologism for attempts to apply the social networking and integration advantages of Web 2.0 to the practice of government. William (Bill) Eggers claims to have coined the term in his 2005 book, Government 2.0: Using Technology to Improve Education, Cut Red Tape, Reduce Gridlock, and Enhance Democracy.[1] Government 2.0 is an attempt to provide more effective processes for government service delivery to individuals and businesses. Integration of tools such as wikis, development of government-specific social networking sites and the use of blogs, RSS feeds and Google Maps are all helping governments provide information to people in a manner that is more immediately useful to the people concerned.[2]

A number of efforts have been made to expose data gathered by government sources in ways that make it available for mashups.

Web 2.0 technologies provide opportunities for various Agencies to share, disseminate and collect information from both internal and external customers in new and exciting ways. Technologies such as wikis, blogs and social networking sites all provide unique ways of collaborating electronically. Web 2.0 technologies are especially useful when additional two-way communication or real-time collaboration would be beneficial to the task.
Like any information technology initiative, the business uses, goals and expected benefits should be first established to help guide the selection and use of specific technologies. The inclusion of applicable information technology policies early in requirements gathering process is critical. Also of consideration are the Federal employee requirements to provide content, moderate, and maintain these constructs and the ability of the individual Federal organizations to digest the volume of input received.

1.0 Defines Web 2.0 as,

“…a term describing changing trends in the use of World Wide Web technology and web design that aims to enhance creativity, information sharing, and, most notably, collaboration among users.”

Wikipedia goes on to say “These concepts have led to the development and evolution of web-based communities and hosted services, including social-networking sites, video sharing sites, wikis, blogs, and folksonomies.

2.0 What does this mean?

Web 2.0 makes the Internet more interactive. Web sites are no longer merely one-way portals and business tranactions but instead can provide an interactive environment for sharing, dialogue and collaboration among a diverse group of people.

3.0 What do I need to do?

Look for opportunities to utilize new technologies and capabilities in a smart and professional manner. Remember that Web 2.0 technologies are subject to same principles and guidance as other internet and communications technologies that an agency may already use to share, disseminate or collect information. An example is that since the site is at an government site the submitted contents by government employee must comply with Accessibility Requirements as dictated in Section 508.

Federal employees must remember that any time they make a statement on public Web2.0 media with any identifying information attached, they are in effect making a public statement under the guise of their position. Even if the employee does not intend to make a binding or public statement, by including identifying information in the post (such as name, position, or even agency affiliation) the communication may be interpreted in this manner by other end users. Federal employees must ensure that they do not communicate anything that they would not state publicly in a non-virtual context.

4.0 What does this mean?

Care needs to be given to all communications made in an increasingly connected world.

5.0 What do I need to do?

Remember that you are a Federal employee no matter what identifying information you provide. Do not take any actions or make any statements that you would not do openly at work.

6.0 Management of Information Exchange

One of the major enticements of using Web 2.0 technology is the ability to exchange informal ideas among multiple parties with transparency. Agencies should decide up front their policies for collecting and processing incoming information. Some Web 2.0 collaborative tools (blogs, for example) may allow agencies to moderate contributions before they are posted to the public. Agencies should clearly state how their tools are moderated and what users are allowed, and not allowed, to contribute. Other forms of communications (such as virtual worlds) may not provide any viable method of pre-screening contributions. Agencies should be aware of their inability to moderate certain forms of Web 2.0 communications and clearly post disclaimers if necessary.

7.0 Information Quality

The Public places a high degree of trust in .gov content and considers it an authoritative source. Under the Information Quality Act and associated guidelines, agencies are required to maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information and services provided to the public. With regard to Web 2.0 information dissemination products, Agencies must reasonably ensure suitable information and service quality consistent with the level of importance of the information. Reasonable steps include: 1) clearly identifying the limitations inherent in the information dissemination product (e.g., possibility of errors, degree of reliability, and validity) so users are fully aware of the quality and integrity of the information or service, 2) taking reasonable steps to remove the limitations inherent in the information, and 3) reconsidering delivery of the information or services. In short, agency management must ensure that the agency position is reflected in all communications rather than one person’s opinion. Resource: Information Quality Act, Pub. L. No. 106-554

6.0 Information Collection

Agencies are required, when practicable, to use electronic forms and filing to conduct official business with the public, and Web 2.0 technologies can be used in many cases to meet this need. Federal public websites must ensure that information collected from the public minimizes burden and maximizes public utility. The Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) covers the collection of data from the public. The PRA requires OMB approval of all surveys given to ten (10) or more participants. This includes any sort of survey where identical questions are given to ten or more participants, regardless of the format. The exception to the survey rule is an anonymous submission form where users can provide open ended comments or suggestions without any sort of Government guidance on the content.

Resources: Government Paperwork Elimination Act and Paperwork Reduction Act

7.0 Intellectual Property

The use and management of Web 2.0 technologies raises several questions about the legal concepts of copyright, fair use, and intellectual property ownership. Agencies must be diligent to ensure that they consider existing intellectual property and copyright laws when implementing Web 2.0 technologies. While the Federal government typically provides public data which is not considered copyrightable intellectual property, Web 2.0 technologies that allow public contribution of content may potentially create challenges regarding the protection of intellectual property contributed by visitors. The ease of copying and propagating data from many sources on the internet makes it very easy to unintentionally breach copyright laws. Most commercial media sharing websites warn of the illegal use of copyrighted materials and trademarks. This strategy may or may not prove sufficient to protect the interests of government agencies, depending on specific circumstances. Agencies must establish policies and post clear disclaimers detailing the copyrights that non-government contributors to their sites may retain. Government content on any site is generally public domain and therefore can not become the intellectual property of an individual or be protected by a site provider. Care must be taken to not create the appearance of a copyright on a government created work, unless specifically permitted by statute. Resources:, U.S. Trademark Law

8.0 Agency Websites Linking to External Services

Many Web 2.0 services are hosted outside government websites. These services include popular media sharing services such as YouTube. If users are connected to these sites from Government websites using hyperlinks, agencies are required to establish and enforce explicit agency-wide linking policies that set out management controls for linking beyond the agency to outside services and websites. Typically the user is notified they are leaving the Government website. Resource: OMB Memo M-05-04

9.0 Usability of Data

Many Web 2.0 technologies allow users to take data from one website and combine it with data from another, commonly referred to as “Mashups.” Agency public websites are required, to the extent practicable and necessary to achieve intended purposes, to provide all data in an open, industry standard format that permits users to aggregate, disaggregate, or otherwise manipulate and analyze the data to meet their needs. Agencies need to ensure that these open industry standard formats are followed to maximize the utility of their data. Resource: OMB Memo M-05-04

10.0 Accessibility to Persons Who Have Disabilities

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, (as amended), requires that electronic and information technologies purchased, maintained, or used by the Federal Government meet certain accessibility standards. These standards are designed to make online information and services fully available to the 54 million Americans who have disabilities, many of whom cannot possibly access information that does not comply with the Section 508 standards. Agencies are already required by the Federal Acquisition Regulations to modify acquisition planning procedures to ensure that the 508 Standards are properly considered, and to include the standards in requirements documents. OMB reminds agencies to disseminate information to the public on a timely and equitable basis, specifically mentioning meeting the Section 508 requirements in OMB Memorandum M-06-02. Agencies employing non-Federal Web 2.0 services are required to ensure that persons with disabilities have either accessible access to those services or equivalent access to the information disseminated on those services. Resources: Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act ,OMB Memo M-06-02

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One thought on “Ten Points on Gov2.0

  1. deng says:

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