USA.gov, Federal Citizen Information Center Make Government Easy
Video Length: 1 minute 30 seconds
GSA’s long history of applying innovative technology to help forge a more transparent and accessible federal government was on display Oct. 14, as two of the agency’s programs celebrated notable milestones.
USA.gov, the U.S. government’s official website, marked a decade of helping explain government programs, benefits, and services. The Federal Citizen Information Center has been using multiple channels to simplify access to government information and services for 40 years. Both are part of GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies.
The renewed emphasis on expanding the effort to serve the public through technology reflects the Obama administration’s commitment to transparency in government, GSA officials said.
“OCSIT and its programs and initiatives are pushing the government to be ever more innovative, creative, and fluid,” said GSA Administrator Martha Johnson during a celebration of the milestones.
The Open Government Initiative focuses on empowering people, and USA.gov is an innovative tool to help improve public awareness and engagement.
"From its origin, it put the consumer first," said White House New Media Director Macon Phillips during the celebration.
The recent redesign of USA.gov makes it even easier for visitors to explore topics ranging from jobs and product recalls to travel advisories. The site contains live Web chats, customized e-mail updates and RSS feeds, as well as an active social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Mobile device apps provide practical information, such as an alternative-fuel locator app.
In 1994, GSA’s launched one of the first government websites, Pueblo.GSA.gov, named after the Government Printing Office’s Pueblo, Colo., facility. The site immediately offered online versions of government publications.
Six years later, Internet entrepreneur Eric Brewer offered to build a robust search engine for the government for free. President Clinton asked GSA to coordinate this initiative, resulting in FirstGov.gov — later renamed USA.gov — going live just 90-days later in September 2000.
For the first time, the public could find federal, state, and local government information at one online location.
GSA went on to launch USA.gov's Spanish-language counterpart website, GobiernoUSA.gov; ConsumerAction.gov and its Spanish-language counterpart Consumidor.gov; and Kids.gov.
There’s more to come. In coming months, the public will be able receive answers to questions via text message and read government publications on electronic readers.