6.1 Disclosing Useful Information
Freedom of Information Act. Open government requires agencies to work proactively to respond to FOIA requests promptly. The President instructs agencies to use modern technology to inform our citizens about what their government is doing. We are committed to the open government initiative and are working to expand electronic government, using our website to disseminate our information to the public. Our responsibility is to provide you with copies of the documents you are entitled to receive under the law. Visit GSA’s FOIA Library.
GSA’s Office of Small Business Administration Data. The Small Business Dashboard provides information about small-business participation in Federal contracting. This page includes data for small businesses owned by women, minorities, socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, and service-disabled veterans of our armed forces. The dashboard features a tool that users can apply to design their own snapshots of small-business data. Users can then save the resulting data set as a file or publish a updating feed of the data. The dashboard enhances transparency, and helps Federal agencies and the public assess the government's performance in meeting statutory goals for small-business contracting. Our small-business data are available on the dashboard at GSA Small Business Contracts. Additionally, our Office of Small Business Utilization has many resources to help small businesses compete. One valuable resource is the "Doing Business with GSA" booklet, geared toward new and prospective contractors. It explains the process, offers practical advice and lists helpful websites. Those businesses seeking subcontracting opportunities can also review our subcontracting directory.
USA.gov. USA.gov is the U.S. government's official Web portal, making it easy for people to find government information useful in their daily lives, as well as during emergencies. In fiscal year 2011, we launched several new capabilities to engage the public effectively. USA.gov interacts with its customers through social media, websites, polls, blogs, surveys, user tests, focus groups, and day-to-day feedback by email, phone and Web chat. USA.gov uses public input to transform its business, providing information where, when and how the public chooses to consume it. In response to customer preference, USA.gov introduced mobile apps, innovation challenges, public polls, user-generated comments, public dialogues, text messaging, electronic readers, crowd-sourced data and increased social media activity in Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Tumbler, Scribd and Flickr. The public gives us high scores through the American Customer Satisfaction Index, as do our agency customers who use our best practice services at our National Contact Center; Pueblo, Colo., print distribution facility; and the USA Contact contracting vehicle. These improvements encourage the public to interact on our websites and have resulted in more than 55 million visits to USA.gov, 40,000 poll responses and about 500 visitor comments. Visit USA.gov to learn more.
GobiernoUSA.gov. In response to the growing Spanish-speaking population in the United States, our Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies launched GobiernoUSA.gov, the U.S. government’s official Web portal in Spanish. During FY '11, GobiernoUSA.gov launched an application gallery site (apps.GobiernoUSA.gov), a collection of Spanish-language mobile sites and apps across government. GobiernoUSA.gov’s weekly column – syndicated to major Hispanic portals such as MSN Latino (published on its home page), AOL Latino, Univision and Terra – was published 287 times. GobiernoUSA.gov, in collaboration with the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, produced and released two videos: “How to Avoid Mistakes When Applying for Citizenship” and "Benefits of Becoming a U.S. Citizen." The videos registered more than 13,000 views on GobiernoUSA.gov’s YouTube channel and were featured on major Spanish-language websites, including the home pages of Univsion.com and AOL Latino. During FY '11, GobiernoUSA.gov published 70 Spanish-language FAQs on respuestas. GobiernoUSA.gov, the Spanish language version of "Answers" on USA.gov. The mobile site is accessible at GobiernoUSA.gov.
Publications.USA.gov. Since the 1960s, a top priority has been educating and protecting U.S. consumers. The Federal Citizen Information Center works with other Federal agencies to publish and distribute millions of publications each year to give the public valuable information on consumer problems and government services: home mortgages, health, managing finances, retirement, consumer protection from fraud and scams, identity theft and government benefits. To be more sustainable and reduce costs, we began digitizing our print publications and offering them in a variety of e-publication formats. We partnered with Google Books and began distributing more than 100 consumer publications for free. We launched our new website Publications.USA.gov with more than 600 consumer publications available for viewing, downloading in a variety of online formats and ordering in print from the Pueblo, Colo., publication distribution center. We are converting publications to new e-publications formats, making them available for downloading onto computer tablets, smart phones and mobile devices.
We developed, printed and released new editions of the "Consumer Action Handbook" and the Spanish sister publication "Guia del Consumidor." Consumers requested more than 500,000 copies of the handbook and more than 50,000 of the Guia. Additionally, we continue to develop, print and distribute 10 million copies of the quarterly Consumer Information Catalog, promoting publications available not only through our distribution facility in Pueblo, but also on our new Publications.USA.gov website. For our largest partner agency, the Federal Trade Commission, we distributed more than 15 million publications dealing with consumer protection tips and issues. Publication distribution through Pueblo exceeded 33 million copies in FY '11. For the first time, we are now tracking the distribution of digital publications. In FY '11, more than 1.4 million publications were either viewed in HTML or downloaded in PDF and ePub formats from our three channels: Google Books, Scribd and Publications.USA.gov
Federal Property for Sale on RealEstateSales.gov. GSA is the real estate agent for the Federal Government, and we help Federal agencies dispose of properties that no longer serve a Federal need. Our online property auction site, realestatesales.gov, is the viewing and sales portal for vacant land, residential homes, commercial buildings, warehouses and historic lighthouses. Users can visit realestatesales.gov to search by the type of property they're looking for or by state and then bid on unneeded Federal property. If you're interested in bidding, you just register online and join the auction. It’s that simple. In addition to giving the public a chance to bid on government assets, disposing of unneeded property is helping to create a more sustainable government by reducing the Federal Government’s real estate footprint. In June 2010, President Barack Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum directing Federal agencies to focus on improving the management of the government’s real estate and getting unneeded properties off our books. Agencies have risen to the challenge and identified opportunities that exceed the president’s goal to realize $3 billion in savings from the government’s properties by Sept. 30, 2012. Bookmark realestatesales.gov today, and visit often. You never know what kind of deals you’ll find.
Electronic Federal Asset Sales and GovSales.gov. Electronic Federal asset sales, also known as eFAS, is an e-government program to improve and optimize the way the Federal Government sells its personal and real property assets. The eFAS program focuses on the sales phase of asset life cycle management and offers significant benefits to participating Federal agencies and the public. Agencies transfer property to sales centers, and the public visits GovSales.gov to view the property available for sale. GovSales.gov is the one-stop shopping location for excess and surplus Federal Government property. The public accesses the website and browses items ranging from computers to jewelry. Before the portal was created, the government advertised its property using more than 163 Federal websites, and the public searched the Internet, newspapers and other sources to find government property for sale. Now, all property is displayed at www.govsales.gov.
New Site Showcases Government Energy Data. Saving energy is a priority for the government, and we at GSA are working to ensure we're saving taxpayer dollars while being mindful of the environment. At energy.Data.gov, you can examine and experiment with data such as coal production numbers, electricity generation by state and U.S. natural gas prices. You will find apps for using this information and tools to monitor, manage and save energy. You’ll find challenges and competitions that provide meaningful, engaging and even fun ways for anyone to contribute to our nation’s clean energy future.
Part of an ever-growing series of issues-based data communities, energy.Data.gov provides insight into our nation’s energy usage and performance. It will feature never-before-released data on Federal energy use. More than 200 high-value, energy-related data sets and tools have been collected from agencies across the Federal Government, with many more to come.
Energy.Data.gov will help us find ways to lower our individual and organizational energy usage and costs. It will serve as a catalyst for government, industry and citizens like you and me to help develop innovative clean-energy technologies and new ways to achieve sustainability in our homes and buildings. The innovative use of the open data fosters development of new products and services towards the creation of new businesses. It will help drive new startups that can provide cost-effective, alternative energy options and create jobs. Take a look today at energy.Data.gov, use the apps, and join the conversation to ensure that the government is using its data and resources in the most efficient and effective way possible.
Government on the Go. Mobile is the new way of the world. More than 80 percent of the people in the U.S. use mobile devices, and by 2013, more people will be accessing the Internet via mobile technology than on traditional computers. Some Federal agencies offer information and services on mobile devices and Web applications. For example, the Internal Revenue Service has a smartphone application that allows taxpayers to track their refunds, and the Transportation Safety Administration allows mobile users to find out what they can bring on a plane. USA.gov also has a mobile-friendly site and app that places many government resources at the fingertips of citizens. Our Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies is launching the Making Mobile Gov Project to help Federal agencies work together to share lessons learned and creatively solve problems to bring more government information and services to smartphones and other mobile devices. Mobile technology is changing the way we find and use information. Making Mobile Gov will bring more Web applications to smartphones and other mobile devices providing a more open and innovative government to the public. Visit Making Mobile Gov to learn more.
Business.USA.gov. To strengthen America’s competitiveness in the global economy, we need to equip businesses with the tools and information to support innovation and job growth in the 21st century. Six major departments and agencies focus primarily on business and trade in the Federal Government. Small businesses often face a maze of agencies when looking for even the most basic answers to the most basic questions. A whole host of websites, toll-free numbers and customer service centers offer them differing advice. The result is a system that's not working for our small businesses. The President announced Business.USA.gov on Jan. 13, 2012, at a news conference. Business.USA.gov is a product of collective information and services from the following agencies who have pledged their commitment to making this site a one-stop shop for everything related to business in the U.S: Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Labor, Department of the Treasury, Department of Veterans Affairs, Export-Import Bank, Overseas Private Investment Corp., Small Business Administration and Trade Development Agency.
Business.USA.gov is a virtual one-stop shop with information for small businesses and businesses of all sizes that want to begin or increase exporting. Through Business.USA.gov, America’s businesses can find and access relevant programs, information and other services from across government. Business.USA.gov is being designed, tested and built with the feedback of U.S. businesses.
Online National Dialogue on Reforming Government Websites. The National Dialogue on Improving Federal Websites was a nationwide, two-week online conversation with the public, policymakers and Web experts to generate ideas for redefining and reinventing how the Federal Government delivers information and services online. During Phase 1 of the dialogue, people submitted and voted on ideas for improving Federal websites in key areas: content, search, usability, accessibility, social media and mobile, emerging technology, multilingual content and online services. This dialogue is part of the larger dot-gov reform initiative launched by the White House and GSA. It launched Sept. 19, 2011, and ran through Oct. 4, 2011. The dialogue had a high turnout and solicited relevant comments and actionable ideas. During the two-week period, OCSIT gathered 446 ideas, 1,663 comments and 8,259 votes from 992 individual users. GSA, the Office of Management and Budget, the dot-gov task force and various interagency groups will use the results to inform the Digital Government Strategy, and develop best practices and guidelines for improving the public's experience with Federal websites.
Dot-gov Reform. The dot-gov reform effort is part of the President's Campaign to Cut Waste and aims to make Federal websites more efficient and useful for the public. Executive Order 13571, "Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service," requires Federal agencies to take specific steps to strengthen customer service, including how they deliver services and information on Federal dot-gov websites. The initiative aims to help the Federal Government manage Web resources more efficiently and effectively to provide the best value and service to taxpayers and enable us to keep pace with rapidly changing customer expectations and technology
The Office of Management and Budget created a task force to manage the initiative, led by GSA, OMB and the White House Office of Digital Strategy, in coordination with the CIO Council and the Federal Web Managers Council. The primary action of the reform initiative in 2012 is the development and implementation of a Digital Government Strategy. The strategy will be the result of public input, an evaluation of current Federal websites and research conducted by the dot-gov reform task force during 2011, including the State of the Federal Web Report, the National Dialogue for Improving Federal Websites and the collective experience of the Federal Chief Information Officers, Web managers and others involved in managing digital communications across government. The strategy makes the case for managing digital communications as a core strategic business asset to provide a better online experience for the public, regardless of which platform or technology they use (Web, mobile, etc).
To date, the initiative has:
- Enacted a freeze on the issuance of new dot-gov domain names for the Federal executive branch;
- Published the first list of all registered dot-gov domain names so the public can see all the Federal websites they’re paying for;
- Required agencies to report on their Web streamlining efforts through the dot-gov inventory, governance survey and drafting of agency Web improvement plans;
- Worked with agencies to eliminate or consolidate more than 200 domains; and
- Hosted a highly successful National Dialogue on Improving Federal Websites.
The dot-gov reform initiative promotes transparency by posting regular updates to reform efforts and posting datasets of Federal domains. The data set of Federal domains is updated regularly on Data.gov and has been visited almost 15,000 times and downloaded more than 1,400 times since being posted in July 2011. To view the domains, visit Federal Domains. To review public comments, visit National Dialogue on Improving Federal Websites.