Facts on the Federal-Compatible Terms of Service Agreement for Yelp

We’ve been excited to see the outpouring of interest this week in response to Yelp’s decision to amend their terms of service for official government use, a clear message that citizens want more ways to ensure their voices are heard by the public programs that serve them.

Yelp is just one of dozens of platforms similarly available for agencies to listen to the “Voice of the Customer,” like Feedback USA. We want to take this opportunity to dispel some myths (there’s a lot), explain the process itself (it’s wonky even by government standards), and let you know what you can (or can not) expect in case this is your first time hearing about this program.

What are federal-compatible terms of service?

  • GSA works with agencies to negotiate amended terms of service agreements for free third-party apps, which includes steps like removing advertisements so as not to look like endorsements. For more information, check out OMB Memorandum M–13–10.

Who has federal-compatible terms of service?

  • Yelp is one of 80 third-party apps GSA has made available to agencies through amended terms of service.
  • Yelp is one of many options for citizen feedback “Voice of the Customer” tools available through amended terms of service, including UserVoice, Quora, SurveyMonkey, Survey Analytics, IdeaScale, 4QSurvey.com, and rating systems in Google and Facebook products and services.
  • We work with a diverse set of vendors and products so agencies can evaluate and find the perfect fit that matches their individual mission needs—one size does not fit all in the private sector or in public service.

What does making an app available mean for public services?

  • The fact that an app has released federal-compatible terms of service does not mean all agencies are required to or intend to use them; it simply means the door is open for agencies to use them.
  • Agencies can then evaluate and analyze whether it might help them improve services, and through programs like the SocialGov Community we share best practices and resources to help measurably improve citizen services.
  • GSA pursued amended terms of service for Yelp based on expressed interest from some agencies, starting with an app from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration designed to save lives and prevent drunk driving over the holidays.
  • As standard practice, GSA does not endorse or encourage the use of any specific tool—we make it available for use and agencies then evaluate and use based on their own needs.

For more information, check out some of our posts on Yelp for public services. Also check back for an upcoming DigitalGov University webinar on Customer Experience and third-party tools.

GSA posts on Yelp API used in NHTSA drunk driving app

http://www.digitalgov.gov/2015/01/22/saferride-app-could-save-your-life/
http://www.digitalgov.gov/2015/01/26/new-nhtsa-app-uses-yelp-api/

GSA post announcing full Yelp TOS

http://www.digitalgov.gov/2015/08/07/five-star-customer-experience-in-public-service-with-yelp/

Federal-Compatible Terms of Service: Why It’s Important, Resources, etc.

http://www.digitalgov.gov/resources/federal-compatible-terms-of-service-agreements/

Federal-Compatible Terms of Service: List of Approved Apps

http://www.digitalgov.gov/resources/negotiated-terms-of-service-agreements/