GSA’S Social Innovations A Highlight Of 2012

Social Media Diagram

Most of us are familiar with social media and are likely to use it in our personal and professional lives.  We saw social media take off in 2012 as a tool for getting work done here at GSA.  We standardized on an agency-wide social networking platform (Chatter from Salesforce). This has been a helpful solution for GSA employees to connect virtually in workgroups and project teams regardless of where they are located. In fact, there are now more than 1,000 groups with members from all over GSA who provide advice, lessons learned and innovative ideas to the organization.  For example, the “Supervisor’s Lounge” group helps our managers improve their knowledge and skills to support their teams.  I posted previously about using this platform’s “Ideas” capability to uncover employee ideas on how GSA can save money.   And our “Ask IT” group provides on-the-spot assistance with GSA’s technology tools and systems; oftentimes, helpful tips are suggested by other users rather than the IT support technicians. Social media has become integral to GSA’s mission over the past year, assisting us with better fulfilling our mission and serving our stakeholders.

Like many other organizations, collaborative tools are changing how we do business with our customers as well as our colleagues. Building a 21st century government at every level means openness, transparency and collaboration are the order of the day—but so are speed, scalability and affordability.  Social media enables these capabilities, and we have learned some lessons along the way on effective collaboration. Here are a few guideposts to follow:

Engage constituents on their terms
Constituents are going social, discussing government in the new public town square online. It’s time to revolutionize how citizens engage with their government and bring these voices in. Answer questions and make improvements—together. Use social media to bring the voice of constituents and partners back into government.

Build apps to power your agency
There’s a lot of data in the legacy systems of most agencies—but it can be hard to find when you need it. You can free up that valuable information and fuel innovation when you can quickly spin up powerful, social, apps to support the core business of government for a fraction of the usual cost. For instance, the Texas Department of Information Resources has built a dozen or so apps to improve its operations and bring government closer to the public.

Transform services with social media
Social, interactive, websites are raising the expectations of consumers everywhere, and people increasingly expect the government services they depend on to go social, too. The pressure is on to give more personalized service, provide access to answers from everywhere, and empower the community to jump in and help.  The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Bureau of Consumer Protection produces the Business Center Blog, an interactive information source that addresses a wide range of consumer issues and concerns.  It’s a good illustration of where social media is taking the government.

At GSA, we’ve acted on the premise that the future of computing is social and mobile, and we’re heading in the right direction with the technology we’ve implemented, and learning from what we’re doing through active measurement and analysis.  In 2012, we became a leader in using social media in government.  Our goal for 2013  is to continue to save taxpayer money while delivering necessary and innovative services to our customers.