GSA Continues to Make Progress Advancing Open Government Efforts
General Services Administration
WASHINGTON, Sept. 20, 2011 – On his first day in office, President Obama ushered in a new era of openness in government when he challenged federal agencies to strengthen America's democracy, boost government efficiency, and save taxpayer dollars by improving transparency and increasing public participation.
GSA met this challenge head on by successfully spearheading several open government initiatives and making meaningful headway towards fulfilling the aspirations set forth in the president’s Open Government Directive. The agency has helped launch several flagship initiatives that aim to transform how the government and the American people interact.
For instance, the Terms of Service Agreements negotiated by GSA and the Open Government Public Engagement Tool enable federal agencies to be more open and forthcoming with the public. And GSA's Challenges and Prizes Platform allows agencies to leverage good ideas from the public and create useful products that are backed by incentives to encourage involvement.
Two other initiatives are the Business Breakthrough program and the ePubs U.S. Government Bookstore. Business Breakthrough is a program to help businesses better understanding the ins and outs of the federal marketplace and learn more about ways they can use GSA’s contracting vehicles to take advantage of growth opportunities. The ePubs bookstore is a partnership with the Government Printing Office that makes popular government publications available for free via electronic download.
GSA's Public Engagement Platform focuses on government agencies’ ability to use new media tools that are secure, tested, and accessible to persons with disabilities.
GSA is at the vanguard of driving change in technology and enhancing the ways in which citizens and the government use that technology to connect. Social media is one such vehicle to help meet this end.
There are more than 40 social media apps with negotiated terms of service agreements available for federal agencies. These agreements have paved the way for broader experimentation and adoption of free social media tools that expand government’s ability to deliver information to citizens at little or no cost to taxpayers.
One example of this is Apps.gov. Launched in September 2009, Apps.gov is an online storefront designed to encourage and enable the federal government to adopt cloud computing and social media solutions. GSA has also unveiled a social media directory to showcase the agency’s activities on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, external blogs, and RSS feeds.
Data.gov is another transparency outlet cultivated by GSA. A governmentwide GSA-led transparency success, Data.gov was launched in May 2009 to cover topics ranging from healthcare to commerce to education. The website is democratizing government data with 236 citizen-developed applications based on data posted on Data.gov.
The U.S. is now partnering with India to share the Data.gov platform to enable open government efforts in other countries. Through the U.S.-India Open Government Dialogue, the two countries have partnered to release “Data.gov-in-a-Box,” an open source version of the United States’ “Data.gov” data portal and India’s “India.gov.in” document portal. It will be available for implementation by countries globally, encouraging governments around the world to stand up open data sites that promote transparency, improve citizen engagement, and engage application developers in continuously improving these efforts.
In addition, GSA launched a new search engine on USA.gov and made it available to other federal agencies and commercial websites at no cost. Search.USA.gov provides the functionality of commercial search engines with improved speed and relevance in its search results. GSA also redesigned Reginfo.gov to improve its ability to track the federal rulemaking process. USAspending.gov is another website that continues to assist GSA in fulfilling its strategic goals of transparency, innovation, customer intimacy, and operational excellence.
GSA's latest enhancement to Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) data is the creation of a user-friendly website, www.efaca.gov. eFACA is built to give the public quick and easy access to the most requested information, such as agency-specific data on costs and contracts.
On the acquisitions side, GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service piloted two acquisitions using ideas generated through the Better Buy Project. The project is an online public dialogue that solicits advice on ways to use collaborative technology to improve federal government acquisition.
In an effort to increase collaboration and openness in GSA’s sustainability program, the agency's Green Proving Ground Program is creating a registry of technologies and practices that optimize energy performance and reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with building operations.
As the president unveils his new National Open Government Action Plan today – further advancing transparency, collaboration, and participation – GSA will continue to pursue openness as an operational standard. The agency is tracking the implementation of its Open Government Plan and flagship initiatives via the Open Government Dashboard published on the agency's Open Government web page.
GSA has moved from embracing open government principles to forging an action plan of its own that will yield major benefits, including greater accountability, increased collaboration, and a stronger bond between citizens and their government.