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Landmark Agreements Clear Path for Government New Media
March 25, 2009
March 25, 2009
Contact: Tobi Edler, 202-501-1231
WASHINGTON — Answering President Obama's call to increase citizen participation in government, the U.S. General Services Administration is making it easier for federal agencies to use new media while meeting their legal requirements.
For the past six months, a coalition of agencies led by GSA has been working with new media providers to develop terms of service that can be agreed to by federal agencies. The new agreements resolve any legal concerns found in many standard terms and conditions that pose problems for federal agencies, such as liability limits, endorsements, freedom of information, and governing law.
Having these agreements in place will allow government to use free tools to dramatically increase access to information, offer education on government services and empower citizens with a voice in their government.
"We need to get official information out to sites where people are already visiting and encourage them to interact with their government," says GSA Acting Administrator Paul Prouty. “Millions of Americans visit new media sites every day. The new agreements make it easier for the government to provide official information to citizens via their method of choice.”
To date, GSA has signed agreements with Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo and blip.tv, and is in discussions with many other providers that offer free new media services. Federal agencies that want to use these services to meet their mission can now choose to sign the same agreements.
GSA’s goal in this effort has been to negotiate terms of service agreements, for each provider, that can work for all federal agencies. The new media providers approached were open to GSA’s efforts but reluctant to expend resources negotiating separate no-cost agreements with dozens or hundreds of different agencies. With the agreements, new media providers are able to work with GSA as its principal point of contact, making the process more efficient for the government and the providers.
“Several federal agencies helped to negotiate these agreements, so it's hoped that other agencies will find the language acceptable,” says GSA acting Associate Administrator Martha Dorris.
GSA started with Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo and blip.tv because these providers are representative of high volume and innovation on the Web. At the same time, GSA is eager to negotiate agreements with many additional providers. Twitter is also in the arsenal of GSA’s new media as GSA found its standard terms of service already compatible with federal usage.
“The vision of USA.gov is to improve the public’s experience when engaging with the government, and these new era agreements will further empower agencies to use new media,” says Dorris. “GSA’s Office of Citizen Services is breaking new ground in support of our motto ‘Government Made Easy’ and improving the way the public and federal agencies communicate with each other.”
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