Tag Archives: Digital Strategy

Improving our digital services to better serve you

Throughout this past year, the National Archives and Federal agencies have been working to implement the Digital Government Strategy by improving digital services to better serve you.

We’ve worked toward specific milestones that improve access to government information and we launched Archives.gov/digitalstrategy to report on our progress.  We sought your ideas for improvement in August and now you can see our progress toward making available mobile appsand web APIs.

Mobile:  We’ve mobile optimized FederalRegister.gov, released a mobile site for Presidential Documents, and a mobile app called “To the Brink: JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis,” which makes available photos, documents, and recordings from the related exhibit.

Screenshot of Smartphone Pres Docs

Presidential Docs Mobile Site

Screenshot To the Brink Mobile App

To the Brink Mobile App 

Web APIs: We’ve expanded the FederalRegister.gov API to include the Public Inspection Desk and integration with Regulations.gov.  We’ve also included created an interactive dataset and API for Executive Orders from 1994 to 2012 on Data.gov.

We continue to increase the records we make available on sites like Wikipedia and Flickr, which have robust mobile and web API capabilities.  These projects, in addition to our work on the Digital Public Library of America, greatly expand public access to government records.

Map of National Day of Civic Hacking

Engaging Developers:  We launched Archives.gov/developer to promote innovative uses of our data and tools in the public and private sectors.  We’re participating in the National Day of Civic Hacking on June 1-2, 2013, by sponsoring several challenges related to visualizing historical datasets and developing a mobile app for researchers to easily upload digital images of historical records.  We’re looking forward to see what innovative solutions might be developed by the public.

All of our efforts, however, are only a piece of the larger Federal Government effort to improve digital services.  You can check out other agencies’ developer hubs and new mobile services and APIs, including a new API for the State Department’s Office of the Historian Ebook Catalog, which contains all of the ebooks from the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series.

Reblogged from NARAtions, the blog of the National Archives, with a hat tip to OCIO.GOV

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One-Year Anniversary of the Digital Government Strategy: HUD Releases Two APIs

The Digital Government Strategy, which was published on May 23, 2012, set out to accomplish three things:

  • Enable the American people and an increasingly mobile workforce to access high-quality digital government information and services anywhere, anytime, on any device.
  • Ensure that as the government adjusts to this new digital world, we seize the opportunity to procure and manage devices, applications, and data in smart, secure and affordable ways.
  • Unlock the power of government data to spur innovation across our Nation and improve the quality of services for the American people.

In order to better communicate with the public, HUD is making information available through multiple formats and increasing access to services on mobile devices.  Our goal is to make our services and information available anywhere, anytime, and on any device, and in formats that facilitate additional use by public developers and entrepreneurs.

To date, we have released two APIs, which are located at www.hud.gov/developer. The Housing Counselor Web Service allows searching by name, city, state, and current location to find information regarding Housing Counseling Agencies. The Section 3 Business Lookup allows searching by location, zip code, and business type to find information on Section 3 businesses. To learn about Section 3, visit.

These APIs are for public use and are intended to provide developers, researches, entrepreneurs and others with the ability to access HUD data in ways that make it easier to use and program.  The release of this data, in alignment with the new Open Data Policy, will help achieve the goal of making previously inaccessible or unmanageable data easily available to entrepreneurs, innovators, researchers, and others who can use the data to generate new products and services, build businesses, and create jobs.

Today, nearly 50% of American adults own a smart phone. In May of last year, when the Digital Government Strategy was released, that number was only 35% of adults. Recently, HUD launched the first housing discrimination app to provide the public with a quick, easy and safe way to learn about their fair housing rights and, whenever necessary, file fair housing complaints. The housing discrimination app is available in the iTunes store.

The Fair Market Rents app, which is a map-based app that allows users to search Fair Market Rents and income limits by current location or by metropolitan area, county, zip code and/or address is also available to the public.  The app may be downloaded from HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research’s website.

To learn about HUD’s digital strategy, and you can see more.

Reposted from The HUDdle blog of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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Federal Mobile Code Sharing Catalog Is Here

Federal agencies have a new resource to help them make content and services available anytime, anywhere, and from any device–the federal Mobile Code Catalog sponsored by the Digital Services Innovation Center.

This catalog is hosted on GitHub (more on why that matters in a moment). Here, agency developers looking to jump-start their efforts can find source code for native and web projects from a variety of sources: federal agencies, other governments, and third-parties in the private sector.

Developers can access whole frameworks for a mobile web site, modular code to solve common problems, or even links to complete apps to use as a template for their own apps.

More than code

It’s not all about code, though.  Any successful mobile program needs to be able to test the quality and the accessibility of their apps.  The catalog also includes  test scripts to help your agency validate the functionality and accessibility of their app.  You can also find links to data, APIs and other federal developer pages.

The Mobile Code Catalog is hosted on GitHub for a reason.  In addition to the form that agencies can use to submit their open source project or resource, the catalog itself can be “forked.”  Forking the catalog is the process of making a copy of it so improvements can be made without affecting the original copy.  Those improvements can then be submitted to us through what’s called a “pull request.”  If everything’s in order, we’ll incorporate those improvements with just a few clicks.

What’s next

This catalog has been initially populated with the cooperation from several agencies, but the work is not done. Over the next few months we will be hosting events but we need you.

  • Are you a government mobile innovator with some code you’ve developed to share? Submit your code.
  • Are you a developer who wants to tweak one of the existing government apps or modules? Fork the content and make a pull request.
  • Are you looking to get involved in government mobile code sharing? Ask your questions.
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Taking Open Government to the Next Level

“I want us to ask ourselves every day, how are we using technology to make a real difference in people’s lives?” President Obama posed this question as a challenge to federal agencies, and we’ve taken that challenge seriously at the Labor Department.

On a personal level, I’m hardly a “techie” − but I appreciate how technology has made my life better in so many ways. That’s why I want to share some of the behind-the-scenes work of my agency, the department’s Office of Public Affairs, in the area of technical innovation.

mobile applicationFirst, it’s important to understand application programming interfaces, known as APIs. (Here’s a great explanation.) The easiest way to think about APIs is that they allow developers in the public and private sectors to build apps, widgets and websites based on government data. Anyone with development skills and a little creativity can use an API to tap into an agency’s data and repackage it as a useful smartphone app or other tool.

Since we published a department-wide API two years ago, developers across the country have used it to create apps that educate users about workplace safety and health, employers’ compliance with wage and hour laws, and improving employment opportunities for disabled workers, just to name a few!

Releasing data through an API was a big step forward, but it was not exactly groundbreaking.  However, since then, my team has been working hard to develop software development kits that are truly innovative because they make using our API even easier.

These kits (also known as SDKs) contain application code for six different platforms − iOS, Android, Blackberry, .Net, PHP and Ruby − that anyone creating a mobile or Web-based app using our data could incorporate. By using the kits, experienced developers will save time and novice developers will be able to work with DOL data in just a few minutes.

And that’s not all − our innovation went a step further. Other federal agencies have their own APIs, and for a variety of technical and business reasons, many have very different requirements for using their APIs. Mike Pulsifer, a federal employee in my office, together with contractors Chuck Brouse, Patrick Johnson and Wendell Hatcher, just finished updating our kits to work with APIs across the federal government. Now developers can easily combine data from the Labor Department with data from 26 other agencies and multi-agency programs. That’s a lot of data!

All of these kits can be downloaded from our developer site. Additionally, in keeping with the federal digital government strategy, each has been published as an open source project ongithub, a popular code-sharing site. For a list of federal APIs that are supported by our kits, check the github repository’s wiki page. This list will be updated as the kits are tested with additional federal APIs.

Our work is helping the government be more efficient and keep up with constantly changing technology. But most importantly, investing in this kind of technology to create a more open government is a priority for us because it empowers you. As the president has said, “we must never forget who our customers are − the American people.”

Reblogged from the Department of Labor’s (Work in Progress) blog.

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Trolling for treasure

Closed tapas taskTapas: Spend an hour or so looking for what agencies are doing as part of the Digital Government Strategy.

Instructions: Browse federal government blogs and agency press releases to find government stories about their digital gov innovations. It could be about releasing an API, a mobile application, their work in opening data, a hackathon or datapalooza, or how their digital work has an impact on their stakeholders. Put the URL for the specific blog entry or press release directly in the comments for this post. Include your name and agency affiliation (so we can acknowledge your contribution). We’ll review and reblog your found treasures.

Continue reading

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Coming Together: Open & Analytics

Where the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers meet at Cairo, Il.

photo NASA

With the rollout of the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) in support of the Digital Government Strategy, federal agencies across government are driving the adoption of modern website analytics for the full range of .gov and .mil websites.

To better integrate the DAP analytics code, the Department of Homeland Security built a Drupal module that could be reused across their agency websites.  Because they are using open source code, they then went on to release their code publicly.

This important step now allows any other government agency using Drupal to benefit from Homeland Security’s good work. By adopting this open and collaborative model, they are practicing what the Digital Strategy calls for from all agencies–being open by default.

This is a great example of the different pieces of the digital strategy coming together to build a 21st century government. Let us know how your agency is bringing the strategy together in the comments.

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Digital Analytics Program Helps Agencies Measure Web Performance

Image of a bar graphSupport for agencies’ implementation of upcoming Digital Government Strategy milestones continues with the rollout of the Digital Analytics Program to help agencies measure performance and customer satisfaction to improve service delivery. This new program helps agencies by providing digital metrics guidance and practices, training and tools and implementation support.

The Digital Government Strategy Milestone 8.2 calls for agencies to implement performance and customer satisfaction measurement tools on all .gov websites. The Digital Services Innovation Center, housed at GSA, is rolling out a comprehensive Digital Analytics Program to help.

Step One was the release of guidance and best practices on Digital Metrics in August. This includes comprehensive info and measures for digital services, as well as outlining the common set of agency measures for web sites.

Step Two begins when the Innovation Center releases a common tool October 15 as a shared service to help federal executive branch agencies comply with the strategy by collecting and reporting on the 10 required performance metrics. The solution uses a page tagging technique to collect metrics, which has become an industry standard. There is no cost to agencies to use the tool.

By using a common web analytics tool across agencies, we’ll be able to deliver an unprecedented, government-wide view of how well agencies serve their customers online. Being able to share this data will also create new possibilities for agencies to collaborate in improving service and learn from each other.

The new solution isn’t intended to replace any of the products agencies are already using. But it can supplement current efforts and can serve as a stand-alone solution for agencies without a metrics tool.

What’s next?

Agency leads for Digital Strategy will be identifying a point-of-contact (POC) for Digital Analytics for their agency. The POC will be the primary person that GSA works with on implementing the common tool and page tags. This will keep the implementation as streamlined as possible.

Want to learn more?

  • Listen to the on-demand Digital Metrics webinar on the requirements and guidance and a case study on agency-wide metrics implementation at USDA.
  • Sign up for email updates on Digital Analytics Program page on HowTo.gov
  • Send your questions to dap@gsa.gov, and we’ll post the answers on HowTo.
  • Check out future training from DigitalGov University related to metrics and other topics.

Reblogged from Digital Gov Blog

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Digital Government Strategy Milestones Report

Screenshot of Digital Strategy milestones webpage.Yesterday marked three months since the release of the Digital Government Strategy and agencies have been making great strides in meeting the milestones toward building a 21st Century Government. In his blog, Building-blocks of a 21st Century Digital Government, Steve Van Roekel said

Executing on this vision of government cannot happen alone. To provide the highest value of services, we must rethink from step one how government builds and provides services for the American people. We must unlock rich government data, information and services so that everyone from citizen developers and private sector entrepreneurs, to our very own Federal agencies can help provide the American people with the access to these services “anywhere, anytime, on any device.”

This blog was released in conjunction with the milestones deliverables page where you can find:

What’s your agency doing to meet the milestones? Let us know about the great work you are doing, and remember to check out the Digital Services Innovation Center webpage and HowTo.gov digital strategy milestone page for guidance, resources, and training.

Reposted from Digital Gov Blog.


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Agile “Sprinting” to Digital Governance Recommendations

To help agencies produce better decision-making across the organization about how to best spend resources on digital services and manage their data, the Digital Government Strategy tasked the Digital Services Advisory Group with “recommending guidelines on agency-wide governance structure for developing and delivering digital services and managing data.”

Governance Sprint #1

A clear governance structure helps with digital service efficiency and quality ofservice. You can find the digital governance recommendations here and agencies will use these to”establish an agency-wide governance structure for developing and delivering digital services” by November 23.

As part of its mission to promote cross-agency sharing of best practices in the delivery of digital services, the Digital Services Advisory Group worked with the Federal CIO Council and Federal Web Managers Council to develop recommendations on how agencies can
stand up effective digital services governance structures consistent with Milestone Action #4.2. Recognizing that governance is a means to an end, the recommendations highlight opportunity areas for agencies to deliver better services at a lower cost.

To support the Digital Services Advisory Group’s efforts, the Digital Services Innovation Center hosted a digital governance co-lo project. This project is an ongoing experiment where we have applied agile software development processes to policy-making.

We used intensive, facilitated “agile sprints” to help agencies develop digital governance structures. The goals for these “sprints” as we began to call them were to:

  • Allow the participating agencies to get a jump start on their governance models
  • Abstract what was learned from these agencies’ governance model creation processes to inform the Digital Services Advisory Group’s governance recommendations
  • Share this “agile sprint” model with other agencies to accelerate their digital governance model creation in order to meet the November 23rd milestone.

The government innovators who partook in this experiment were the U.S Departments of Education, Agriculture, Veteran’s Affairs and the General Services Administration. In the first sprint, which lasted a week, these agencies agreed to creating a digital governance model “minimal viable policy” or MVPs to workshop with their agencies before the second sprint.

During this sprint, the innovating agencies found themselves engaging in a rapid cycle of brainstorming,  presenting, getting and giving feedback on their outline digital governance model MVPs. Facilitators started to notice that agencies would “borrow” MVP elements they liked from other agencies in successive presentations. A RACI chart for stakeholder mapping was perhaps the most “borrowed” element.

These agencies will continue to work on the digital governance sprint experiment over the next month to have their governance structures ready for the November 23rd deadline. We are interested in exploring how agencies might use this model for other areas of policy development.

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Your Feedback Wanted: More Open ED Data

I am part of a team that is looking at ways to enhance the Department’s digital services and respond to the White House’s Digital Government Strategy.  We are spearheading a new initiative to make more of the data ED publishes open and developer-friendly via web application programming interfaces (APIs).  APIs allow web developers to pull data from one or more API-enabled sources into another website, application, or mobile app. It makes sharing information more fluid and current.  Check out the currently available 16 ED datasets with APIs on ED.gov.

Department of Education logoThe Department of Education and the White House are reaching out to developers interested in working with education open data. The Data Jam held in June kicked off development of projects and tools to be presented at an Education Datapalooza event to be held at the White House in October 2012. Datapalooza will be an opportunity to highlight tools and services that leverage open educational data sets (education.data.gov), individual electronic student data (MyData), and data about learning content (Learning Registry) to improve student choices around learning.  Datapalooza will be streamed live (and posted online afterwards) for anyone who wants to participate. Email the team at edtech@ed.govfor more details about the event plans, or if you are currently working/interested in working on open educational data integrations.

But Datapalooza is only the first step to engage the public. We want to hear from you – developers and all of our customers. Tell us which ED data sets and online tools have data that should be more open. Great ideas come from everywhere. If you have an idea for an app that would help you and the public access certain types of information, let us know. Your input will help us prioritize the suggestions made here and some of the ideas we already have in mind.

To get the conversation started, here are a few datasets that could be enabled through API:

For more ideas, see our datasets on Data.gov/education/ and our lists of ED-funded websites and online tools.

Comments open on this blog post will be open through August 20. Our team plans to analyze your feedback and set out a plan for making more of our websites and tools more mobile in the coming months.

Thanks for taking the time to tell us what you think!

Reblogged from ed.gov

No Comments for this post. Be sure to follow THIS LINK to provide feedback to the Department of Education.

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Commerce Department Needs Your Input on Digital Strategy

Department of Commerce sealOn May 23, 2012, the White House released the Federal Digital Strategy that outlined the use of “modern tools and technologies to seize the digital opportunity and fundamentally change how the Federal Government serves both its internal and external customers–building a 21st century platform to better serve the American People.” The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is requiring agencies to implement at least two such tools or technologies by August 23, 2012.

As part of the Digital Strategy, the Department of Commerce has identified two areas that are ripe for improvement and several platforms within each that could be updated: APIs and mobile-optimization. As such, today we are asking for your input in deciding which two items we will commit to completing by OMB’s August 23 deadline. In the comments section, we welcome your feedback on the possible candidates for improvement, or other opportunities we may have overlooked. Your feedback, combined with other internal and external conversations, will guide Commerce’s digital plan in the coming months and years.

For APIs, Commerce has identified:

Name Description Main Customers
News from the Office of the Secretary Blog posts and news releases General public and Commerce employees
NTIA News News releases from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration General Public
American Community Survey Estimates of the characteristics of the United States’ population and housing over a specific data collection period General Public, Statisticians, Educators
Export.gov Provides information to help U.S. businesses participate in the global marketplace with information on trade events, tariffs and export counseling assistance U.S. Business, particularly exporters
MBDA.gov Performance metrics OR informational content for Minority Business Development Administration’s annual conference Minority-owned businesses

For mobile optimization, Commerce has identified:

Service Name Service Description Main Customers
Commerce.gov Public-facing Departmental Website General public and Departmental employees
BIS.DOC.GOV Public-facing Website for Bureau of Industry & Security Exporters, general public, and Bureau employees
Export.gov Information to help U.S. businesses participate in the global marketplace with information on trade events, tariffs and export counseling assistance. U.S. exporters and businesses interested in exporting
MBDA.gov Information to support job growth and economic expansion through a network of MBDA business centers, Minority-owned business firms and Bureau employees
ESA.gov In-depth reports, fact sheets, and briefings on policy issues and current economic events. General public and agency employees

Reblogged from commerce.gov.

No Comments for this post. Be sure to follow THIS LINK to provide feedback to Commerce.

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GSA’s Digital Services Innovation Center Launches

GSA has now launched the Digital Services Innovation Center, a key piece of the White House’s new digital government strategy released in late May. The strategy was designed to ensure federal agencies use emerging technologies to serve the American people as effectively as possible through improved web services and mobile applications.

Over the next 10 months, the Center is charged with meeting a number of specific digital strategy milestones to deliver digital services and government information anywhere, anytime and on any device.  The Center will engage agencies across government by serving as a virtual hub to accelerate innovative digital services. Initial efforts are underway establishing shared solutions and training to support infrastructure and content needs across the Federal government, and identifying and providing performance and customer service satisfaction measurement tools to improve service delivery.

The Center will consist of a small core staff housed within GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, but will be pulling in contributors across government to fulfill its mission.  As a result of GSA’s work on the digital government strategy, the American public can expect an improved customer experience from digital government services. Over the coming year, the public will be able to access and use more government information than ever before.

Across GSA, additional offices are also hard at work implementing the digital government strategy.  The Federal Acquisition ServiceOffice of Government-wide Policy, and Data.gov within the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies are all working on elements to widen shared services, increase efficiencies, and provide tools for a better government.

GSA’s Digital Services Innovation Center is leading the agency-wide commitment to deliver more efficient and lower-cost digital services across government.  For more information, or if you have an interest in ways to help us innovate, emaildigitalgov@gsa.gov.

Reblogged from gsa.gov.

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Hitting the Ground Running With the Digital Strategy

Last month, the Obama Administration launched the Digital Government Strategy (PDFHTML5), a comprehensive roadmap aimed at building a 21st Century Digital Government that delivers better digital services to the American people. We’ve hit the ground running and are already hard at work driving the strategy forward.

Digital Government: Builging a 21st Century Platform to Better Server the American PeopleFirst, we’ve established the Digital Services Innovation Center to operationalize the principle of “build once, use many times” by serving as a virtual hub, supported by agencies across government, to incubate and accelerate innovative digital services. The Innovation Center has been gearing up with a small core team from within the General Services Administration, and will draw on a pool of experts and creative thinkers from across government using temporary staffing arrangements, multi-agency teams, and others with specialized expertise and skills to address rapid turnaround needs. Work is underway on initial tasks, including identifying and providing performance and customer satisfaction measurement tools to improve service delivery and more. This team will also be central in working with the forthcoming “MyGov” Presidential Innovation Fellows project.

Second, on June 13, I convened a set of leaders from across government – including representatives from the Federal CIO Council (CIOC), Federal Web Managers Council (FWMC), and several agencies – for the first meeting of the Digital Services Advisory Group. The Advisory Group will help steer implementation of the Digital Government Strategy, prioritize Innovation Center activities, and recommend government-wide best practices, guidance, and standards. The Advisory Group has already begun to work with the CIOC and FWMC on two early deliverables: guidance and best practices on allowing employees to use their personal mobile devices for work (known as “bring-your-own-device”), as well as agency-wide governance models for digital services.

We’ve also tapped the deep reserve of citizen-innovators who want to help build a better government using the power of technology. There has been a groundswell of interest in the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, with 700 applicants for Fellows positions, and over 4,000 people in total expressing interest in following (and contributing to) their progress. These fellows will help the government take on critical challenges such as giving individuals access to their personal health records and “liberating” government data to fuel entrepreneurship. The numbers of applications are very encouraging, and US Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Todd Park and I are thrilled to see this type of enthusiasm for the program and the mission it represents.

As we continue our work implementing the strategy, you can track our progress at www.whitehouse.gov/digitalgov. Stay tuned – we’re just getting started.

Steven VanRoekel is the Federal Chief Information Officer – for more information visit www.cio.gov.

Reblogged from Whitehouse.gov.


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