1. Executive Summary
When President Barack Obama challenged Federal agencies to increase transparency, participation and collaboration with the public, GSA eagerly stepped forward. Open government is much more than releasing information. It’s about harnessing the skills and talents of the American people, establishing greater collaboration among Federal agencies and ensuring that the taxpayer’s money is wisely spent. We are doing this in remarkable ways, and we will continue to advance open government principles within our enterprise and across government.
GSA is responsible for annual purchases of more than $65 billion in products and services, nearly 10,000 buildings nationwide and more than 200,000 government vehicles. As such, we can implement energy solutions from the private sector in our portfolio of real estate and energy-related acquisitions. Our reach spans the nation, so we are in a unique position to test and validate new ideas in different regions. Since we are the business arm of the government, and as an agency with governmentwide policymaking duties, it is particularly important for GSA’s operations, processes and initiatives to be as open as possible.
GSA continues to make great strides in expanding opportunities for our customers and the public to engage and collaborate in the business of our agency. We've moved from embracing open government principles to forging actions and initiatives that will yield major benefits, including greater accountability, increased collaboration and a stronger bond between citizens and their government.
Open government is not new to us. For many years, we've played a vital role in implementing the principles through governmentwide policies and initiatives. We provide information directly to the public through the Internet and have established collaborative platforms and tools for use across the government. Our top priority is to use our expertise to provide solutions to our customers in support of their missions. We have delivered information to consumers for more than 40 years and continue to work with Federal agencies to make their data and websites available to the public.
This plan highlights our unprecedented effort to cut the Federal environmental footprint, increase energy performance and position the government as a leader in sustainability. We will do this by aggressively pursuing high-impact improvements and effective policies in a transparent, participative and collaborative way with government colleagues and industry partners.
We have completed the following flagship initiatives since the previous versions of GSA’s Open Government Plan:
- Terms of Service Agreements for Social Media,
- Open Government Public Engagement Tool,
- Challenges and Prizes Platform, and
- Citizen Engagement Platform.
GSA’s current open government plan includes four agency flagship initiatives. Of those, two are new and highlight our training for Federal building managers for high-performance green buildings and our role in disposing of and recycling electronics waste. Our flagship initiatives demonstrate our governmentwide leadership role in supporting other Federal agencies, and each can affect every Federal agency.
The four flagship initiatives are:
- Business Breakthrough,
- ePubs (Google) U.S. Government Bookstore,
- Federal Buildings Personnel Training Act – FMI.gov, and
- Electronics waste disposal.
We are also highlighting two U.S. National Action Plan technical platform initiatives that support governmentwide performance management and open-source sharing.
Business Breakthrough helps businesses gain a better understanding of the intricacies of the Federal marketplace and learn more about ways they can use our contracting vehicles to take advantage of opportunities for growth. This initiative is funded through Federal appropriations.
ePubs (Google) U.S. Government Bookstore
The ePubs (Google) U.S. Government Bookstore partnered with the Government Printing Office to make popular government publications available for free download. Because of the huge volume of publications on Google Books and subsequent competition with retail publications via the site, we pursued expanding USA.gov to include a publications section. Now, consumers can order print copies from the Pueblo distribution center, as well as download PDF, EPUB, HTML and mobile files to their device of choice. The new Publications.USA.gov website is highly successful providing copies of consumer publications in English and Spanish. To date, we have provided more than 700 publications to consumers from Publications.USA.gov. In six months, we distributed hundreds of thousands more publications through our website than through Google Books. This initiative is funded through Federal appropriations.
Federal Buildings Personnel Training Act - FMI.gov
The creation of the Facilities Management Institute (FMI) as a public facing “cloud institute” to implement the requirements of the Federal Buildings Personnel Training Act has been structured to embody the principles of transparency, participation and collaboration. No membership will be required for FMI.gov, an open site where the public, Federal agencies, professional societies, industry associations, apprenticeship training providers and academic institutions can come together to collaborate on every aspect of reducing the cost of the Federal Government while increasing its productivity.
Electronics waste disposal (eWaste disposal)
The Federal Government is one of the largest entities using such electronics and must take a leadership role in efforts to stop and reverse the trend of inappropriate disposal of electronics. The eWaste initiative comprises two main activities: policy and reporting. The policy of how Federal agencies dispose of their electronics is now being re-written. The policy will direct agencies to only dispose of their electronics to recyclers or refurbishers who meet one of two certification programs, the Responsible Recycling Program or the e-Stewards Program. The second part of the initiative, reporting, focuses on gathering the information necessary to understand how electronics are being disposed of and to ensure agency compliance with the policy revisions. This initiative was launched as part of the National Strategy for Electronic Stewardship.
Through these initiatives, we demonstrate support of the administration’s goal of creating a more open and transparent government, improve openness for the entire Federal Government and increase public awareness of government operations.
GSA continues to engage the public and uses the Internet and social media tools to solicit input from and provide useful information to the public. One example is the USA.gov Facebook page. On this page, anyone with a Facebook account can become a USA.gov fan and post questions or ideas that a USA.gov representative will answer. This leads to open dialogue between Federal employees and the public.
In summary, we believe that the GSA Open Government Plan demonstrates that our agency is listening to the public and our customers and is aiming for openness as an operational standard. We urge you to read our plan to learn more about our ongoing activities to create a culture of transparency, participation and collaboration within GSA, throughout the Federal Government and across levels of government.