#CONNECTEDGOVEngaging Stakeholders in the Digital AgeJANUA RY 2013
The Partnership for Public Service is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that works to revitalize the federal governmen...
EXECUTIVE SUMMARYThe administration’s three-pronged Digital Government                 The projects or programs we examine...
Use of digital platforms is by no means    standard across government. In fact, some    federal employees are still prohib...
INTRODUCTIONWhen a photo showing President and Michelle Obama              with the nearly decade-old social media revolut...
or the mouse or the smartphone—of social media in in-         Twitter and Tumblr. With the advent of smartphones and    no...
The agencies we interviewed integrated social media          When reading about these cases, it is critical to re-tactics ...
CASE STUDIESIn conducting interviews with 26 individualsfrom 12 agencies and offices, we found programsthat used Facebook,...
T                                                                            U                                            ...
ACTIONS TAKENThe State Department launched a 90-day pilot in Tunisia using an English-         Insights forlanguage instru...
Collaborating internally The Department of                          CHALLENGE Energy uses a wiki called                  T...
ACTIONS TAKENUpon learning about an internal wiki called Intellipedia, which facilitates                 Insights forcommu...
Report urgent information in real time The Federal Emergency                      CHALLENGE Management Agency             ...
ACTIONS TAKENWithin hours of tornados descending on Alabama and causing major destruc-            Insights fortion, the Fe...
Publicize available medical services Air Force Medical Service                  CHALLENGE improves health services        ...
ACTIONS TAKENA headquarters-based task force created a communications strategy in early           Insights for2011 to help...
Requesting assistance from the public The National                               CHALLENGE Archives and Records           ...
it more widely accessible. NARA chose Wikipedia because the site gets far           Insights formore traffic in a year for...
Engaging outside experts and innovators The National Aeronautics                   CHALLENGE and Space Administration     ...
ACTIONS TAKENNASA launched the International Space Apps Challenge in April 2012, us-           Insights foring crowdsourci...
Collect data from around the country The Centers for Disease                   CHALLENGE Control and Prevention           ...
ACTIONS TAKENHealth care providers, laboratories and state and local health departments                        Insights fo...
SOCIAL MEDIA     MYTHS DEBUNKED                                                                                      !@#$%...
Um...MYTH                                                              MYTHYou have to be on the cutting edge of technolog...
EFFECTIVE SOCIAL MEDIA                              IN GOVERNMENTThe case studies featured are just a small selectionof ex...
Think strategically about how to supportmission and programsF    or a social media effort to be ef-     fective, it has to...
federal social media program man- agers said the use of social media                                           “Cliff jump...
is just one of many sites offering re-          Work within the agency’s socialsources on using social media. GSA         ...
 Connected Gov Engaging Stakeholders In the Digital Age
 Connected Gov Engaging Stakeholders In the Digital Age
 Connected Gov Engaging Stakeholders In the Digital Age
 Connected Gov Engaging Stakeholders In the Digital Age
 Connected Gov Engaging Stakeholders In the Digital Age
 Connected Gov Engaging Stakeholders In the Digital Age
 Connected Gov Engaging Stakeholders In the Digital Age
 Connected Gov Engaging Stakeholders In the Digital Age
 Connected Gov Engaging Stakeholders In the Digital Age
 Connected Gov Engaging Stakeholders In the Digital Age
 Connected Gov Engaging Stakeholders In the Digital Age
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Connected Gov Engaging Stakeholders In the Digital Age

  1. 1. #CONNECTEDGOVEngaging Stakeholders in the Digital AgeJANUA RY 2013
  2. 2. The Partnership for Public Service is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that works to revitalize the federal governmentby inspiring a new generation to serve and by transforming the way government works.Booz Allen Hamilton has been at the forefront of strategy and technology consulting for nearly a century. Today, the firmprovides services primarily to the US government in defense, intelligence, and civil markets, and to major corporations,institutions, and not-for-profit organizations. Booz Allen offers clients deep functional knowledge spanning strategy andorganization, engineering and operations, technology, and analytics—which it combines with specialized expertise inclients’ mission and domain areas to help solve their toughest problems.Booz Allen is headquartered in McLean, Virginia, employs approximately 25,000 people, and had revenue of $5.86 billionfor the 12 months ended March 31, 2012. To learn more, visit www.boozallen.com. (NYSE: BAH)
  3. 3. EXECUTIVE SUMMARYThe administration’s three-pronged Digital Government The projects or programs we examined were:Strategy1 details how the federal government needs tokeep up with ever-evolving technology and devices used ɚɚ The State Department’s app for teaching Englishby people living in an increasingly mobile world. The ɚɚ The Department of Energy’s internal wiki forstrategy seeks to: facilitating employee collaborationɚɚ Empower Americans to access government ɚɚ The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s use information and services from anywhere at any time of social media to provide disaster information in on any device real timeɚɚ Ensure that the government buys and manages ɚɚ The Air Force Medical Service’s social media project devices, applications and data well for improving health service deliveryɚɚ Make government data available to spur innovation ɚɚ The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s and improve the quality of services reporting system for monitoring influenza nationwide The Partnership for Public Service, in collaboration ɚɚ The National Archives and Recordswith Booz Allen Hamilton, set out to learn how agencies Administration’s use of an existing wiki site toare using technology and social media to engage stake- recruit volunteers with valuable expertiseholders, address key challenges and further their mis- ɚɚ The National Aeronautics and Spacesions. We present case studies on how social media is Administration’s crowdsourcing strategy forbeing employed at several federal agencies and a practi- engaging knowledgeable people to help solvecal guide program managers can reference as they take technical challengesadvantage of communications platforms and tools to sup-port their mission. Our aim is to help agencies improve mission per- In our examination of seven agency programs, we formance through more informed and effective use ofevaluated how program managers used social media to social media and technology. The case studies and otherreach their goals by looking at the challenges they faced, information in this report are intended to inspire federalthe actions they took to overcome them, the results they program managers to employ social media in new and in-achieved and the lessons learned. novative ways in order to strengthen relationships with their constituencies, and further their missions, through interactive communication.1 “Digital Government: Building a 21st Century Platform to BetterServe the American People,” whitehouse.gov, http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/egov/digital-government/digital-govern-ment.html (accessed 27 Nov. 2012). #CONNECTEDGOV 1
  4. 4. Use of digital platforms is by no means standard across government. In fact, some federal employees are still prohibited from even accessing social media sites.2 PARTNERSHIP FOR PUBLIC SERVICE | BOOZ ALLEN HAMILTON
  5. 5. INTRODUCTIONWhen a photo showing President and Michelle Obama with the nearly decade-old social media revolution, notcelebrating election victory appeared on Facebook in No- only to benefit now, but also to be prepared for innova-vember, it received 4 million “likes.” A “four more years” tions to come. While government adoption and use ofTwitter comment was retweeted—that is, resent after be- digital technologies remains uneven across federal agen-ing received—by more than 790,000 users of that social cies, the compelling value of social media to federal agen-media site. When Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced cies has become clear:that the New York City marathon would go on despitethe devastation in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the so- ɚɚ This phenomenon is here to stay. Its immediacy,cial media backlash made him realize how unpopular his ease of use and relatively low barrier to entrydecision was, and he reversed it within days. And when mean it will continue to displace other formsBank of America announced it was going to charge $5 a of communication and will become even moremonth for customers to use their debit cards, the mas- embedded in everyday life.sive outcry on digital platforms, including a petition on ɚɚ Social media is more than just another routethe social media site change.org, compelled the bank to for one-time, one-way dissemination of staticchange its plans. information. Government agencies can receive The power of social media, mobile apps, interactive information back from populations, iterativelywebsites and texting is without doubt. The question for communicate with them about next actions, andthe federal government is: How can these technologies reach and organize groups that then communicatebe used more effectively to improve, perhaps dramati- with each other.cally, how agencies carry out their work, fulfill their mis- ɚɚ Social media can connect large populations andsions and engage with stakeholders in a collaborative remote groups, and content can be customized andenvironment? updated almost instantly, at relatively low cost In government today, there are pockets of excellenceand innovation where agency programs have incorpo- ɚɚ And, most significantly, an entire generation ofrated social media and digital applications into their ev- voters and taxpayers now expects to communicateeryday operations and are reaping the benefits. However, and conduct transactions through social media.use of digital platforms is by no means standard across Many citizens do not even remember life withoutgovernment. In fact, some federal employees are still such interaction. This is the new normal.prohibited from even accessing social media sites. Pro-gram managers who lag cannot expect that doing things This report, a collaboration between the Partnershipthe way they have always done them will continue to be for Public Service and Booz Allen Hamilton, looks at howeffective in the new environment. They need to catch up some federal program managers have grabbed the reins— #CONNECTEDGOV 3
  6. 6. or the mouse or the smartphone—of social media in in- Twitter and Tumblr. With the advent of smartphones and novative ways. We identify and highlight how they have tablets, mobile apps have taken on an increasingly large moved beyond simply disseminating information on the role in our digitally redefined world. Internet to creating interactive relationships with the One of the early federal forays into dynamic infor- constituencies they serve, via social media and mobile mation-sharing on the Internet came in 2005, when apps for tablets and smartphones. We targeted a range President Bush began using RSS—commonly known as of agencies with a variety of social media initiatives, ul- Really Simple Syndication—to give the public easy access timately conducting interviews with 26 individuals from to his speeches, press briefings and radio conversations. 12 agencies. After choosing seven programs or projects to His administration joined the many newspapers, radio profile, we delved deeply into these agencies’ efforts, in- stations and other organizations that were providing terviewing program-level employees, particularly those continually updated content to their audiences through who were responsible for social media initiatives and ac- feeds provided by free subscription services. That same tively engaged with them. year, the Small Business Administration became the first The compelling cases we write about demonstrate federal agency to have a YouTube channel, using videos creative ways program managers have used social media to share information about its programs. Today, all 15 to achieve program goals, and offer lessons and examples Cabinet-level agencies have Facebook pages and Twitter that can be readily adopted and used in other agency accounts, and more than 1,300 government-related mo- programs. The program managers in these cases have bile phone apps are available to the public, according to engaged communities of interest using Facebook, Twit- the GSA. These range from information about Food and ter, wikis, smartphone apps and more. They have come a Drug Administration recalls and Department of Trans- long way since 2001, when the federal government first portation data on airline on-time performance to State identified just 24 e-government initiatives for providing Department foreign travel alerts to comparisons of nurs- solutions for training, tax filing, federal rulemaking and ing homes based on surveys of Medicare patients. e-training that seemed revelatory. Social media has revolutionized the way many peo- The social media transformation continues ple communicate, allowing conversations to start sponta- As agencies incorporate social media into their activities, neously, and occasionally go viral, weakening the reliance government leaders are realizing that it can be used to on traditional media outlets for reaching key stakehold- deliver vital services, connect constituents to one an- ers and customers. Virtually all of the social media ex- other and assemble information from a group. Impor- perts we interviewed said that social media efforts in gov- tantly, these tools allow for citizen feedback that helps ernment need to connect directly to program missions agencies improve services. This kind of collaboration and goals, and that managers should examine how differ- removes barriers that have slowed or deterred commu- ent digital platforms will support their mission outcomes. nication between citizens and their government in the Once program managers have selected the suitable social past, and potentially can save government resources and media platforms or apps, they should develop perfor- assist agencies in achieving their goals. “No matter how mance measures to gauge whether they have chosen the many rocket scientists you have, you’re always missing an appropriate ones, interviewees said. Program managers, expertise that is abundant in another sector or another who may prefer to avoid social media for fear of the criti- industry,” said one social media expert we interviewed, cism that can come with a more free-form style of com- who pointed out that social media’s potential will be un- munication, will have to rethink their approach as society locked only if “an organization taps into the abilities of continues to move forward in this arena. people beyond their organization’s walls or payroll.” The platforms that agencies use to advance their Government’s early forays into social media mission objectives vary. They range from crowdsourc- The term social media first appeared on Google’s radar ing, phone and mobile apps, competitions and social me- in early 2004, although early adopters were engaging in dia such as Facebook and Wikipedia. But, as our report this form of interaction prior to that. Since then, its me- highlights, it is not enough to flip a switch and log on to teoric rise, and its pervasive presence throughout most of social media. To be effective, program managers need the world, has redefined how people, organizations and to think strategically about how to use social media to governments interact. It has become common for social support agency mission and achieve program outcomes. media users to get news and information quickly from They need to get past the tactical hurdles that can stand friends and followers online, and the news links they post, in the way of meaningful implementation and be pre- when they visit the many available social media sites— pared to learn and adapt continuously so their initiatives that is, platforms that provide interactivity and user- can remain attractive to users as social media continues generated content—such as Reddit, LinkedIn, Instagram, to evolve.4 PARTNERSHIP FOR PUBLIC SERVICE | BOOZ ALLEN HAMILTON
  7. 7. The agencies we interviewed integrated social media When reading about these cases, it is critical to re-tactics into their broader strategy, ensuring that social member that, for program managers to get started with amedia outreach is not the goal, but the means to achieve social media solution, they need to contact their agency’stheir goals. They started by deciding on the results they social media director to see what technology is available;wanted to achieve and then determined which platform contact their public affairs officer, chief information of-would deliver the most cost-effective results. The results ficer or anyone else who should be involved in the effort;were promising and relevant to program managers seek- and see how the cases described below can be adapteding innovative ways to achieve their mission. While other for use in serving their agency’s mission.studies have addressed best practices in social media,this report specifically examines how managers at theprogram level used social media and apps to accomplishtheir goals. We set out to provide compelling examplesthat will motivate project and program managers, super-visors and budget decision-makers across government tothink about how they could benefit from these tools. We chose inspiring examples that varied by audience,social media platform and outcomes sought. All these ini-tiatives engaged audiences in ways that were beneficialto agency programs. We examined the following agencyprograms and digital strategies:ɚɚ The State Department’s English-language app provides people in developing countries easy access to English-language instruction via a basic cellphone.ɚɚ The Department of Energy’s Powerpedia site facilitates employee collaboration and exchange of project ideas within an agency whose workforce is geographically distributed.ɚɚ The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s social media effort in Alabama provided real- time disaster information, making it possible to correct misinformation, respond quickly to urgent questions and help citizens help themselves.ɚɚ The Air Force Medical Service improved critical health service delivery by setting up Facebook pages for its facilities.ɚɚ The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network, a reporting system that aggregates disease information from providers reporting from around the country, monitors seasonal flu epidemics and helps reduce the response lag time.ɚɚ The National Archives and Records Administration uses Wikipedia to tap into valuable expertise outside the agency and recruit volunteers to scan documents and identify errors.ɚɚ The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s International Space Apps Challenge employs digital means to crowdsource people with scientific knowledge to help solve advanced technical challenges. #CONNECTEDGOV 5
  9. 9. CASE STUDIESIn conducting interviews with 26 individualsfrom 12 agencies and offices, we found programsthat used Facebook, Skype, mobile applications,wikis, crowdsourcing or other collaborativeor social tools to achieve goals and missions.The lessons program managers learned provedvaluable for them and their programs and can beused in other agencies’ programs and projects. #CONNECTEDGOV 7
  10. 10. T U T N U I N S I S I I E A Reaching a distant audience In Tunisia, the CHALLENGE Department of State is The most common request the State Department receives from foreign making English-language diplomats is for assistance with helping their citizens learn English. In 2011, following the Arab Spring in Tunisia, the department saw an op- instruction easily portunity to show support for the Tunisian people and strengthen the U.S. accessible through a relationship by making English-language instruction more widely avail- able. The department runs classroom programs worldwide, such as the mobile phone app. English Access Microscholarship Program, which provides two years of after-school language instruction to 13- to 20-year-olds and currently has about 30,000 students enrolled. But these programs have limited reach in Tunisia due to resource constraints and a population that is geographi- cally dispersed. Although Internet access often is limited and unreliable in many areas of Tunisia, there is a well-established and active cellphone network with 93 mobile phone subscribers for every 100 people. The de- partment wondered if it could tap into that existing platform and use it as a low-cost tool for delivering language instruction.8 PARTNERSHIP FOR PUBLIC SERVICE | BOOZ ALLEN HAMILTON
  11. 11. ACTIONS TAKENThe State Department launched a 90-day pilot in Tunisia using an English- Insights forlanguage instruction application for devices called feature phones—which do program managersnot quite have all the features of a smartphone—that was geared toward peo-ple with some basic English-language skills. The department provided unique ɚɚ Brief pilots can demonstratecontent for the lessons and partnered with Tunisiana, the country’s largest value and build demand.cellphone carrier, to provide the infrastructure and support for the program. Tunisiana advertised the program through text message blasts, and dur- ɚɚ Early feedback can pinpoint where improvements areing the pilot phase, the app was available free to the 6 million users of the needed and lead to furthercompany’s telephone services. The program also was marketed through both growth.traditional and social media, including an event that featured the U.S. ambas-sador to Tunisia. The State Department advertised it through existing English ɚɚ Technology can be used to access hard-to-reachprograms in schools and community centers. populations. A department office in Washington conducted focus groups via Skype andanalyzed data to evaluate the program as it progressed. The information and ɚɚ Social media initiatives candata were used to suggest to Tunisiana how to improve the program, such as be conceived, designed, implemented and refined inby adding a dictionary function and bookmarking capacity that would make it short periods.easier for students pick up where they left off in their lesson. When the pilot period ended, the program was turned over to the cell-phone company, which has continued to provide the English-language in-struction to paying subscribers. Is this type of solution right for your federalOUTCOMES program?By the time the pilot program ended, it had 535,000 users—a significant fig-ure in a country with a total population of about 10 million, and a statistic ȖȖ Does your agency havethat convinced State Department leadership of the validity of the concept of geographically dispersed andEnglish-language instruction via mobile phone. The program’s success led to difficult-to-reach stakeholdersrequests for more information from other U.S. embassies around the world on it needs to connect with at lower cost?how to launch similar programs. The Skype focus groups contributed criti-cal observations that the department is taking into consideration as it designs ȖȖ Does your agency need toand develops future mobile English projects. The pilot demonstrated to the communicate with thesedepartment that digital tools can be tried, tested, revised and expanded rap- stakeholders on a regular basis?idly. Although the program is no longer free—it costs about 25 to 35 Americancents a day—and use has dropped substantially, many people are still learning ȖȖ Do your stakeholders haveby cellphone, in addition to classroom lessons. difficulty getting desktop access to the Internet? ȖȖ Are you able to take advantage of infrastructure or networks already in place? ȖȖ Can your content be adapted for mobile delivery? #CONNECTEDGOV 9
  12. 12. Collaborating internally The Department of CHALLENGE Energy uses a wiki called The Department of Energy (DOE) has more than 15,000 geographically dispersed employees, who use decentralized information systems in 17 Powerpedia to enable national laboratories and 14 technical facilities around the country. Al- employees in separate though the agency is home to top energy scientists and Nobel Prize win- ners, its size and structure make it difficult for employees to share infor- offices to work together. mation, collaborate or take advantage of in-house expertise. The absence of a strong central intranet system further complicates employees’ com- munication and coordination. The goal of the project dubbed Powerpe- dia was to allow employees working on similar or related topics to col- laborate on project goals, share new information and give feedback on early releases, so they could eliminate duplication and share expertise more readily.10 PARTNERSHIP FOR PUBLIC SERVICE | BOOZ ALLEN HAMILTON
  13. 13. ACTIONS TAKENUpon learning about an internal wiki called Intellipedia, which facilitates Insights forcommunication throughout the Intelligence Community (IC), a senior leader program managersrecruited one of its champions to build a similar product for DOE and lead theinitiative to implement and use it. The technological infrastructure was de- ɚɚ Social media can be used toveloped and senior technical employees—the wiki’s champions—established cut across historically siloeda Powerpedia working group of nearly 30 early adopters who met weekly to organizations.share best practices. The group had a vested interest in the wiki’s success and ɚɚ The wiki tool fostersbuilt relationships with agency offices to help expand its use. information-sharing, assists The creators marketed Powerpedia internally. The marketing team placed with correcting misinformationlinks to the wiki in agency newsletters and other communications, and DOE’s and mistakes, and helpstechnology staff installed an icon on the employee computers it controlled— employees identify valuableabout a third of the agency’s computers—to make the wiki more visible. Small materials and information.groups of managers were shown how their offices could use the tool. Training ɚɚ Building a platform is notsessions and briefings that emphasized its value and relevance helped identify enough; only consistent, activeand empower early adopters. As users incorporated Powerpedia into business use will drive results.processes, their successes became testimonials about the wiki’s value andwere advertised throughout the agency. Is this type of solutionOUTCOMES right for your federalSince Powerpedia launched in January of 2009, many program managers and program?employees have incorporated it into how they do their work. There now areabout 15,000 distinct pages and as many as 700 edits a day, indicating active ȖȖ Do you need to find out ifuser involvement, said an interviewee. In total, it has had over 100,000 edits other groups within yourand 1 million page views.2 agency are doing work similar The wiki has repeatedly proven its value for fostering employee collabora- to yours?tion. For example, an employee posted information about an initiative to mea- ȖȖ Would it be useful to sharesure and remove pollution in soil below the reach of typical cleanup methods. information across agency(Some nuclear sites have this deep contamination that could threaten ground- projects and subcomponentswater.) Within 48 hours, a researcher contacted the headquarters office to using a site that isn’t public?find others working on the issue. He connected with employees at other DOE ȖȖ Are programs within yourlabs and cleanup sites, including one on the campus where he worked. Re- agency siloed and would theysearchers learned that a model from one scientist’s paper had been modified benefit from program teamsand used at another lab. Without previously being able to conduct a compre- learning what others are doinghensive search of DOE facilities and research, many researchers working on so they do not duplicate work?similar issues were not sharing valuable expertise. Most DOE facilities main-tained separate intranets and project websites. Even if some projects wereposted on public websites, they typically contained less detailed informationthan scientists needed. Now employees and offices share research internally more efficiently, ben-efiting the whole department by increasing internal transparency. Employ-ees have been using Powerpedia to post meeting notes and presentations. Ifagency researchers search now for the soil contaminated issue, they will findupcoming meetings posted and notes from previous ones. By using the wiki asa management tool, senior leaders empowered employees, giving them accessto information about project decisions and schedules and increasing trans-parency and compliance. For example, one senior advisor posted his top goalsand the plan for achieving them, allowing employees to go to the wiki to readabout progress on the projects put in place for reaching those goals.2 “Walking the Walk: Making DOE Management and Operations More Efficient and Effective,”Energy.gov, http://energy.gov/articles/walking-walk-making-doe-management-and-operations-more-efficient-and-effective (accessed 15 Nov. 2012). #CONNECTEDGOV 11
  14. 14. Report urgent information in real time The Federal Emergency CHALLENGE Management Agency In April 2011, the South, Midwest and parts of the Northeast were hit with one of the deadliest and most costly series of tornados in history. Al- uses Facebook to abama was hit particularly hard. Tornados affected 65 percent of the state coordinate disaster and killed more than 200 people. In fact, the number of tornados that hit the state in that one month broke its record for the number of tornados response and touching down in a calendar year.3 Even though Alabama’s Emergency communicate with Management Agency was communicating with the public through Twit- citizens. ter, news releases and traditional emergency alert channels, agency staff learned quickly that the social media presence was insufficient for rapidly disseminating and collecting information and that a Facebook page was needed. Locals were creating their own Facebook pages but frequently were posting inaccurate and misleading information, leading to increased frustration among affected residents. 3 “April Severe Weather Events Set New Tornado Records for Alabama,” National Weath- er Service Weather Forecast Office, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, http://www.srh.noaa.gov/bmx/?n=climo_2011torstats (accessed 15 Nov. 2012).12 PARTNERSHIP FOR PUBLIC SERVICE | BOOZ ALLEN HAMILTON
  15. 15. ACTIONS TAKENWithin hours of tornados descending on Alabama and causing major destruc- Insights fortion, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) stepped in to cre- program managersate and promote a Facebook page for coordinating emergency relief, at therequest of the state emergency management agency. FEMA set up the initial ɚɚ Social media provides real-structure and comments policy and then promoted the page to the public, di- time information, makingrecting questions about local issues to the state agency. it possible to correct FEMA set up a fully operational Facebook page for gathering and dis- misinformation and respondtributing information before a field operations office could be set up. Later, quickly to urgent questions.the field office had at least four people monitoring Facebook and Twitter and ɚɚ Tremendous impact is possibleresponding to posts from survivors. Volunteer and local emergency manage- without a large initial financialment agencies and groups posted important information, such as where to investment.find emergency food stations and donated medicines, and how to apply for ɚɚ Citizens trust social media andfederal relief. Federal and state personnel could learn of residents’ concerns access it even in emergencyby reading comments posted on the page. situations. When a survivor commented about resources that were needed some- ɚɚ In times of disaster, socialwhere, social media monitors would coordinate with operations staff to find media may be the best or onlyout if resources had been sent to that area. If not, the monitors would notify way to connect.operations staff to deploy assistance and evaluate conditions on the ground. Ifresources already were available, the monitors would pass along details aboutthe existing resources and where to find them. FEMA provided staff and ex-pertise for four months to help maintain the Facebook page, an effective social Is this type of solutionmedia tool for responding to concerns and publicizing accurate, useful disas- right for your federalter response and recovery information. FEMA then transitioned out of its role program?and left maintenance of the page to the state government, which has kept it upas the Alabama Emergency Management page. ȖȖ Does your agency need to communicate with allOUTCOMES constituents in real time or within an extremely rapid timeFacebook provided Alabama with an additional tool to meet citizens’ needs, frame?answer questions from the public, direct personnel effectively and broadcast ȖȖ Is your main focus for socialinformation about recovery services offered by government and other orga- media to reach out to thenizations, all in real time. In its first week the site attracted 4,000 “fans,” as public during critical periods?followers are called. Immediately after the disaster struck, the page had in-formation about shelters and how to apply for emergency and financial assis- ȖȖ Do you need to assemble a collection of resources fortance. It offered details about services that organizations were providing, such diverse locations in one place?as donated supplies for residents with diabetes from the American DiabetesAssociation and mobile food service canteens provided by the Salvation Army.The page also answered questions about how to navigate the complicated sys-tem of disaster services and loans provided by federal, state and local sources. Alabama’s Emergency Management Agency continues to post on its Face-book page daily, providing information on food storage ideas, preparednessand information on disaster relief. The state is better prepared to coordinateresponses to future disasters now that it has built a Facebook audience of12,000—people who clicked to “like” the page so they could receive the state’sposts. Alabama’s Facebook page also links to other disaster-assistance resourc-es, such as local emergency management agencies, FEMA and the AmericanRed Cross. When these organizations repost Alabama’s content, it increasesthe reach of the state’s information. The page also helps the public prepare foremergencies, which will help minimize the impact of future disasters. For ex-ample, as Hurricane Isaac approached in 2012, the state emergency manage-ment agency’s page experienced an increase in traffic and offered preparation,safety and relief information long before the storm was expected to hit. #CONNECTEDGOV 13
  16. 16. Publicize available medical services Air Force Medical Service CHALLENGE improves health services Air Force Medical Service (AFMS), entrusted with meeting the health and medical needs of a vast patient population, comprises 75 medical delivery to military treatment facilities around the world and serves more than a million Air personnel and their Force service members and their families. Yet, until recently it had lim- ited websites that weren’t providing enough of the information patients families via Facebook needed. For people to get answers to their questions about preventative pages. health and medical services and procedures, they had to visit one of the clinics in person. Locating a clinic online was difficult, however, because AFMS did not have an effective strategy for communicating with poten- tial patients over the web. The decision to promote Facebook among indi- vidual centers was challenging initially because it had to be orchestrated in the heavily regulated military and health care environment.14 PARTNERSHIP FOR PUBLIC SERVICE | BOOZ ALLEN HAMILTON
  17. 17. ACTIONS TAKENA headquarters-based task force created a communications strategy in early Insights for2011 to help facilities connect with current and future patients, and distrib- program managersuted social media guidelines and toolkits. Each medical center received as-sistance with creating a Facebook page with common content on health infor- ɚɚ Social media can connectmation and responses to frequently asked health questions. local audiences to the bigger To facilitate the communications strategy, the AFMS Surgeon General picture while also providingFacebook page was built out and became a primary dissemination point for region-specific information.content. The task force also established measures to help gauge effective im- ɚɚ Social media initiatives canplementation. For example, centers were rated as basic, advanced or “awe- work even in highly regulatedsome,” depending on how active their Facebook pages were, resulting in a environments.healthy competition among the facilities. ɚɚ The solution can be simple. The central task force did not mandate the use of Facebook, but to en-sure success, it created a communications group that responded to questions, ɚɚ A large segment of the public searches for informationreached out to early adopters to help build momentum, worked with inter- on social media sites suchested senior leaders and helped identify training available to the facilities. as Facebook and Twitter, Other aspects of the overall strategy included allowing patients to text or so an agency’s absenceemail health care professionals about their personal circumstances through can hurt its credibility, anda secure messaging system and receive a response within hours. The service Internet conversations willprevents unnecessary doctors’ visits, saving money for both patients and fa- happen whether an agencycilities. Twenty medical facilities now provide the service, and AFMS plans to participates or not.expand it to all locations.OUTCOMES Is this type of solutionTwo years after the inception of the Facebook initiative, 86 percent of AFMS’s right for your federalmedical facilities use the site to communicate with Air Force personnel and program?their families, and they continue to add information. For example, one facilitycreated a Facebook page for a diabetes support group. Air Force personnel can ȖȖ Is your agency’s existing webalso find information on suicide prevention and asthma. With this increased presence limited?availability of useful information posted online, more personnel are taking ȖȖ Is your current websiteadvantage of the services they are entitled to. For example, after one military difficult to update?treatment facility used Facebook to advertise the availability of the flu vaccine,a record number of people came in for the shot. ȖȖ Does your agency have many Incorporating social media into medical facilities’ operations also led to a offices or facilities throughout the country that need a waysignificant culture change, so AFMS needed to employ change-management to communicate with theirstrategies, such as outreach and training, to help many Air Force person- constituents or audience?nel overcome their concerns about its use. For example, one facility fearedit would be inundated with negative comments. But leaders discovered the ȖȖ Could your agency lessen the number of phone calls or visitsconversation about their facility was already happening without them: A to its offices by providingdisgruntled beneficiary had created a Facebook page for that center. By cre- information online?ating the legitimate Facebook page, the center was able to draw people to asite with useful information and assistance, respond to criticism and correct ȖȖ Do you need to reach constituents who aremisinformation. connecting somewhere else? #CONNECTEDGOV 15
  18. 18. Requesting assistance from the public The National CHALLENGE Archives and Records The mission of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is to organize and preserve important records from U.S. history and in- Administration calls on crease citizens’ access to the records. In addition to millions of historical a supportive community documents, NARA’s holdings also include photographs from NASA, and others taken by Ansel Adams when he was a government employee. While for valuable expertise and some records are available to members of the public who visit one of the assistance. agency’s dozens of archives, federal document repositories and presi- dential libraries, most records are not easily accessible online, making it difficult for people to find, read and use them for research. In addition, NARA has almost a billion records, documents and photos that have not yet been digitized. Documents are not usually transcribed, so content is not searchable via NARA’s electronic database. There is great demand for the materials, but a great deal of staff time is needed to make them usable. NARA found it could crowdsource volunteers to help transcribe NARA’s records so they can be shared digitally. Crowdsourcing involves broadcasting a request for information or services and then distributing tasks or challenges to those in the group of interested responders, when appropriate. To help with uploading and transcribing historical docu- ments so they are easily accessible to the public, the agency turned to Wikipedia, a site whose community of moderators review contributions, to find people sharing NARA’s goal of preserving knowledge and making16 PARTNERSHIP FOR PUBLIC SERVICE | BOOZ ALLEN HAMILTON
  19. 19. it more widely accessible. NARA chose Wikipedia because the site gets far Insights formore traffic in a year for one posted article than the archives.gov site receives program managersfor its entire database of documents and photos. For example, a Wikipediaarticle on the United States received 900 million page views in 2011, nearly 53 ɚɚ Social media can promotetimes the 17 million hits the whole National Archives site received that year. volunteerism that assists with an agency’s mission.ACTIONS TAKEN ɚɚ Users of social media can NARA made the strategic decision to tap the specialized community of active be engaged in addressing volunteers, and their expertise and willingness to assist the agency. Crowd- an agency’s critical needs; it sourcing is “volunteerism for the digital age,” said NARA’s Dominic McDevitt- can be surprising how many Parks, whose title is Wikipedian in residence. The agency reached out to this people in the general public already established community for numerous tasks, including for uploading to are experienced or passionate Wikimedia Commons, volunteer transcription and community “scanathons.” about very narrow, specialty topics. Thousands of images from NARA’s holdings were uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, a Wikipedia project that collects, develops and disseminates infor- ɚɚ Existing networks have built mation in the public domain or makes it available under a free license. Users momentum and can provide can edit the tags—key words used to describe and search for images—making a powerful way for program managers to access an them more easily searchable in Wikimedia’s database. Users also can report audience. errors, so the agency can fix typos, misidentified or mistakenly attributed im- ages or other problems with scanned images in the official record. For exam- ɚɚ Designating and developing ple, in one image, a naval ship was labeled “Savannah” when it was actually a a staff member to be a “Wikipedian-in-residence” photo of the Indianapolis. The official record was updated upon verification. can help agencies explore Volunteers working online are helping NARA to transcribe some of its the potential of Wikipedia holdings through Wikisource, a project of the Wikipedia foundation to build a for finding volunteers and library of public records, maps, letters and other sources in the public domain. publicizing resources. The project provides transcribing software and has a growing community of transcribers who are making documents suitable for web presentation. NARA hosted in-person events to get the Wikimedia community involved in its mission. It invited the local Wikimedia community to the National Ar- Is this type of solution chives for scanathon events. Hosted in repositories around the country, scana- right for your federal thons brought in about 100 people—who had to follow NARA’s protocols for program? handling sensitive documents—to help scan NARA documents and photos for upload into Wikimedia Commons. In addition to the volunteerism, the goal ȖȖ Are there existing Wikipedia of these events was to engage a new community with NARA and to put NARA groups that have in-depth, subject-matter experts in contact with Wikipedia editors. The volunteers got specialty knowledge that“backstage passes” to the National Archives and, after being trained in the could inform the work your proper handling of documents, participated in the agency’s work. agency does? ȖȖ Is your agency understaffedOUTCOMES for the work that needs to be done?Volunteers transcribed and verified about 400 documents that had been up-loaded to Wikisource over a year, a promising result for the relatively new ȖȖ Do you have work that can be done by volunteers?effort. NARA has uploaded more than 13,000 images to Wikimedia that havebeen used in hundreds of projects, furthering its aim of circulating infor- ȖȖ Do you have resources ormation from its holdings. The agency fostered awareness and involvement information that shouldthrough in-person events, building collaboration between the online commu- reach as large an audience asnity and NARA researchers and helping the Wikimedia community under- possible?stand NARA’s offerings better. Members of that wiki community likely willlook to NARA for content for future projects, helping to spread the informa-tion and knowledge even more widely through their individual projects andwebsites. More than 100 Wikimedia editors got involved in the work. WhileNARA continues to do most of its document digitization in-house, the Wiki-pedia connection is helping in its small way to make NARA’s holdings moreaccessible on the Internet. #CONNECTEDGOV 17
  20. 20. Engaging outside experts and innovators The National Aeronautics CHALLENGE and Space Administration The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) tackles many enormously complex scientific and technological questions to at- gets help problem- tain its vision to “reach new heights and reveal the unknown so that what solving by drawing on the we do and learn will benefit all humankind.” Although it has a highly talented workforce, NASA recognized it cannot always rely solely on in- collective knowledge of house and contractor expertise. The agency wanted to be able to adapt the public. existing technology or ideas for space—such as the ability to pour coffee in zero gravity (there is already a prototype) or to bake less crumbly bread at lower power than usual. Conversely, data or technology for space proj- ects might also be used for solving global problems on Earth, such as how to farm more productively in developing countries.18 PARTNERSHIP FOR PUBLIC SERVICE | BOOZ ALLEN HAMILTON
  21. 21. ACTIONS TAKENNASA launched the International Space Apps Challenge in April 2012, us- Insights foring crowdsourcing for a mass collaboration effort and competition that drew program managerson the collective knowledge of people outside the agency. The agency useda model similar to the one used by Random Hacks of Kindness, a group that ɚɚ A compelling story canbrings software developers together for a two-day event, during which they persuade a lot of smarttry to solve challenges posed by partner organizations and pitch their ideas to people to donate their timejudges. The NASA event was held in 25 cities in 17 countries and online, and and talents to help make athe agency partnered with nine government agencies in the United States, the difference.United Kingdom, Japan and Australia, as well as 90 other organizations that ɚɚ Technologies created for spacesubmitted challenges or helped with logistics and publicity. can be used to address real- More than 2,000 people with a variety of skills, and ranging in age from world, global problems.16 to 70, formed in-person and virtual teams to tackle one of the 71 challeng- ɚɚ Solutions can come from thees. Fifteen challenges were proposed by NASA offices and the rest by other general population, not justinstitutions and organizations. They fell into four categories: open-source from within the agency.software; open hardware; platforms for citizen-science contributions; anddata visualization, which involves charts, graphs and other graphical meth-ods for analyzing data. The challenges centered on issues related to spacescience, aeronautics, technology and exploration. For example, one hardware Is this type of solutionchallenge was to develop a sensor for detecting atmospheric conditions or right for your federalradiation, which can be plugged into a smartphone and used for NASA citi- program?zen-science missions that collect atmospheric data. Another challenge wasto help NASA collect data from the Kepler spacecraft—a moving observatory ɚɚ Could your agency usedesigned to detect planets that orbit stars other than the sun—and make it assistance from outsidemore accessible or present it in a new way. experts to solve complex By launching a competition to help it meet its current challenges, NASA problems or answer technicalwas able to interest a vast base of people with technical skills. The event was questions?marketed through traditional and social media and went beyond the usual ɚɚ Are there specific challengessoftware programmer community. your agency would like to address that can be explainedOUTCOMES to outside individuals and organizations?At the end of the competition, teams submitted more than 100 solutions. Twofrom each location were submitted to an expert panel of judges, which chose ɚɚ Are there individuals or groups outside your agency whoseven winning solutions, including a “people’s choice” award. The organiza- are working on interestingtions that posed the challenges for the event reviewed the solutions, provided projects that might advancefeedback and in some cases helped support the project’s development. But the your agency’s work?event produced more than those seven winning projects. In a follow-up sur-vey, 40 percent of participants planned to continue with their projects, andanother 25 percent said they would continue if they received funding or inter-est from the organization that had posed the challenge. One winning solutionwas an app that helped children and teachers visualize data from the KeplerObservatory so they could explore planets in other solar systems. Another appcombined weather and soil data to allow farmers to decide on the optimalcrop for their land, with the goal of maximizing production, particularly indeveloping countries. NASA’s International Space Apps Challenge also dem-onstrated that crowdsourcing and competitions can help with solving evenadvanced and technical challenges facing government agencies. #CONNECTEDGOV 19
  22. 22. Collect data from around the country The Centers for Disease CHALLENGE Control and Prevention A flu epidemic in the United States costs anywhere from $71 billion to $167 billion annually, due to 30 million outpatient visits, 200,000 hos- gets a jump on flu pitalizations, 38 million school days lost and 41,000 deaths. Vaccines to season with a nationwide guard against the disease have to be reformulated each year because there is no way to predict the next influenza virus, other than by observing how surveillance network of the strain has evolved since the previous flu season. Only when cases labs, healthcare providers spike can the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) deter- and health departments. mine what type of flu is infecting people for the current season, and that information helps produce the best protection for that year’s epidemic. But there is a lengthy vaccine production process—it can take three to six months to develop, manufacture and distribute the hundreds of mil- lions of doses needed to vaccinate 80 percent of the population, the level thought to offer “herd immunity” against further spread of disease. It is a constant challenge to produce enough doses of the vaccine in time to meet a growing epidemic. Any improvements that can shave days or weeks off the response time can potentially save thousands of lives. It also is important for CDC to learn where the hotbeds of infection are so they can mobilize and send teams out to investigate specific areas.20 PARTNERSHIP FOR PUBLIC SERVICE | BOOZ ALLEN HAMILTON
  23. 23. ACTIONS TAKENHealth care providers, laboratories and state and local health departments Insights forvoluntarily report outpatient “influenza-like illness” (ILI) data weekly, by age program managersgroup, to the CDC, including the total number of patients seen and the num-ber with such an illness. The program’s goal is to capture community influen- ɚɚ Social media allows data toza data and build a nationwide picture of flu trends by analyzing the number be sent immediately fromof people who seek outpatient care.  a problem site to one that Providers report their data through the Internet or fax to the U.S. Outpa- analyzes that data; thistient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network (ILINet), a central reposi- reduces the time it takes totory of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Dis- detect and react to problems.eases.4 The program aims to get reports on flu occurrence from one provider ɚɚ Search-term analysis thatper 250,000 people in urban areas and from 10 providers total reporting from takes clues from the wordslow-population areas. Ideally, these so-called sentinels report their flu data people use in Google searchesweekly. The initiative started as a collaboration with the American Associa- offers the potential for evention of Family Physicians and about 140 health care providers. During the more rapid identification of trends in the future.2009–2010 flu season, about 3,400 providers in the 50 states and the Districtof Columbia contributed data, although enrollment has dropped this year toabout 2,900—a little more than half of which report each week. Is this type of solutionOUTCOMES right for your federal In a survey of ILINet participants, half reported it took 15 minutes or less program? to report their data, and 39 percent reported it takes 15 to 30 minutes. CDC weights the data and then develops the national picture of virus activity, the ȖȖ Do you need to collect data geographic distribution of the disease and its clinical impact. Throughout the from dispersed sources as flu season, which runs from October through May, CDC publishes a weekly quickly as possible?“FluView” surveillance report summarizing these findings. The data is acces- ȖȖ Do you need a way to display sible relatively quickly to flu manufacturers and distributors, health care pro- quantitative data trends? viders, medical researchers, the media and the public. CDC now has enough ȖȖ Is your data used not only historic data to allow recognition of flu patterns and to issue follow-ups and to report, but also to predict alerts to states. During pandemics, this system is also used to allocate resourc- events? es where they are needed most and to send out CDC teams to hot spots. CDC researchers recently worked with Google on the potential next-gen- eration early warning system, called Google Flu Trends, which predicts flu epidemics on the basis of Internet search-term analysis. Researchers found a close relationship between how many people search for flu-related topics and how many people actually have flu symptoms. Not every person who searches for “flu” is actually sick, and not everyone sick with flu will take time off work or go to the doctor, but a definite pattern emerges when all the flu-related search queries are added together. Researchers compared query counts with traditional flu surveillance systems and found that many search queries tend- ed to be popular exactly when flu season was occurring. By aggregating search queries, it is possible to estimate how much flu is circulating in different coun- tries and regions around the world.4 “Fluview: A Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report Prepared by the Influenza Division,” Cen-ters for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly (accessed 15 Nov. 2012). #CONNECTEDGOV 21
  24. 24. SOCIAL MEDIA MYTHS DEBUNKED !@#$%MYTH MYTHSocial media is simply another avenue for disseminating content All the feedback we receive on social media will be negative,as a function of public affairs. critical feedback that will cast our agency in a poor light.RE A L IT Y REALITYAlthough this may be true, virtually every agency that uses Much of the feedback agencies receive is positive. Often,social media has realized the value of the dialogue with their when a user attacks an agency, other users step in to offeraudience. Social media can be used to communicate within an facts or defend it. Users frequently respond to questions fromagency and from an agency to constituent groups or to the other users, such as translating technical terms into “English,”public; used throughout a project as it goes from development offering quick answers, saving the agency’s staff from havingto completion; and employed for training, communications, to respond and demonstrating that agencies need to take caremobilization, outreach and customer service. It can also be a to write in layman’s terms. Agencies may still have to correctway to save money and staff time. misinformation occasionally.22 PARTNERSHIP FOR PUBLIC SERVICE | BOOZ ALLEN HAMILTON
  25. 25. Um...MYTH MYTHYou have to be on the cutting edge of technology to use social Most comments on social media are not well thought out ormedia effectively. constructive.R EA L IT Y REALITYMany of the common social media sites, such as blogs and While social media sites can be prone to abbreviated or irrelevantFacebook, can reach broad audiences and do the job that comments, most people who take the effort to respond toagencies want. For example, Facebook still has more than twice agencies’ content tend to leave thoughtful comments and seekas many users as Twitter, Foursquare and Pinterest combined. to contribute something. In any case, the negative comments can offer constructive lessons for improving agency activities. Zzz...MYTH MYTHWe will be inundated with responses and feedback, and this will No one is interested in the material we would put on socialoverwhelm our people or systems. media. It is simply too boring.R EAL IT Y REALITYThe input most agencies receive in their social media outlets It is not worth trying to guess what users will find interesting.is quite manageable. The General Services Administration, for “You’d be surprised what people geek out about,” said oneexample, receives an average of 80 comments per month. interviewee. Gen Y $$$MY T H MYTHSocial media is only for the younger generation. My audience is Maintaining a social media presence takes too much money.not going to be on that medium. REALITYR EA L IT Y Sophisticated measurement analytics tools can be expensive,Social media attracts a wide range of users, including a fast- but the use of most social media often is inexpensive or freegrowing older demographic, many of whose members are and can save money spent on other methods for getting thelinked to their grandchildren through social media. message out. #CONNECTEDGOV 23
  26. 26. EFFECTIVE SOCIAL MEDIA IN GOVERNMENTThe case studies featured are just a small selectionof examples demonstrating how federal programshave used social media effectively to meet theirmission goals and objectives. For each of the casestudies, no matter what technology was used orwhat objectives the initiative was trying to achieve,three major success factors were consistently cited: ɚɚ Think strategically about how to use social media to support agency mission and achieve program outcomes. ɚɚ Get past the tactical hurdles that can stand in the way of meaningful implementation. ɚɚ Continually learn and adapt to derive the most benefit from social media initiatives.24 PARTNERSHIP FOR PUBLIC SERVICE | BOOZ ALLEN HAMILTON
  27. 27. Think strategically about how to supportmission and programsF or a social media effort to be ef- fective, it has to be tied direct-ly to program missions and goals. is well versed in how social media is used by his agency. Program man- agers cautioned against capriciousThere needs to be a clear under- use. One interviewee used the termstanding of how various social me- “cliff jumpers” to refer to agency staffdia will be used to support mission who leap to use social media beforeoutcomes, according to virtually all fully considering its worth for theof the social media experts we in- agency. It usually happens whenterviewed. Agencies need to know someone asks for an account onwhat they plan to achieve to ensure Twitter or Facebook without regardthat they choose the appropriate so- to whether these tools are appropri-cial media platform and the correct ate for the audience. People mightperformance measures to judge the “cliff jump” just to create an account This “Smokey Bear” app5 providestool’s success, they added. and seem trendy, but there can be park users with step-by-step instruc- To understand how social media unintended consequences. For ex- tions for building and maintaining acan advance a goal, agencies have to ample, if a Facebook or Twitter page fire and then making sure it is out.define what their goals are, inter- is not deployed strategically, it might U.S. Customs and Border Patrol cre-viewees said. This process also can be updated for a few weeks and then ated an app6 that informs passengersprovide agencies with new and dif- be left unattended, making an agen- in real time how long the wait is be-ferent ways of doing business and cy or program look unresponsive tween getting off their plane and be-deploying their resources. Failure to and the website outdated. Program ing cleared through customs, help-act strategically jeopardizes a proj- managers should no more ignore ing to reduce the stress and anxietyect’s success and can cause unin- someone on a social media platform many air travelers experience.tended consequences. Interviewees they created than they would some-said agencies need to keep an eye one who comes to their desk with Understand the benefits andon their mission, be ready to correct a question. This interviewee said drawbacks of social mediamisinformation, continue to learn, he has to “talk these people off the When strategizing about the possiblevalue information-sharing, look for ledge all the time.” To do so, he helps uses of social media, get a proper un-outside talent and figure out who program managers consider the rel- derstanding of its capacity and role.takes the lead. It also is important to evance of the proposed social media It is not a silver bullet. In the sameexamine the potential risks, benefits for program or project objectives. way that people had to understandand costs of social media use, includ- The same holds true for mo- that computers are only as good asing staff time. This is particularly bile applications. With the advent the information human beings entertrue when budgets are increasingly of ubiquitous mobile access, many into them—as in “garbage in, gar-constrained since, as one interview- agencies use phone apps to provide bage out”—social media will not mi-ee said, “You’re asked to do more citizens with the information they raculously fix an organization’s com-with less or, as I like to say, ‘every- need, when they need it and where munication, budget, performance orthing with nothing.’” they need it, in line with agency management issues. In fact, several goals. These should support the mis-Keep an eye on the mission sion and be updated as needed. ForStrategy sessions on whether to use example, the National Forest Ser- 5 “Smokey Bear,” U.S. Forest Service, USA.social media should focus on wheth- vice’s app for campers and hikers ad- gov, http://apps.usa.gov/smokey-bear.shtml (accessed 27 Nov. 2012).er such an initiative advances the dresses one of the largest dangers inmission of project, program or agen- forests—unintentional fires caused 6 “Airport Wait Times,” U.S. Customs andcy. “If it fails to satisfy that test, do when people are careless or their Border Protection, USA.gov, http://apps.usa.not do it,” said an interviewee who campsite fires burn out of control. gov/airport-wait-times.shtml (accessed 27 Nov. 2012). #CONNECTEDGOV 25
  28. 28. federal social media program man- agers said the use of social media “Cliff jumpers” are agency staff who can end up exposing organizational leap to use social media before fully problems. In these cases, the ineffi- ciencies are not caused by the social considering its worth for the agency. media or necessarily fixed by them. But it could be a benefit for the agen- It usually happens when someone asks cy to learn about problems it had not for an account on Twitter or Facebook been aware of and have the opportu- nity to address them. without regard to whether these tools Concerns about social media in- clude fears the public will gain a fo- are appropriate for the audience. rum for giving negative feedback and that employees will say the “wrong things” online. However, if employ- Understand agency policies averse agencies from trying new so- ees are saying the wrong things on Agencies often need to know the cial media tactics. Employees may social media, it is likely they already best practices or legal constraints mistakenly assume that they are not are making incorrect statements in relating to a project or program. It allowed to do much with social me- the halls, in emails and at meetings. is possible that someone in the 2.1 dia tools. But different agencies may The benefit to seeing the incorrect or million-strong government work- interpret legal parameters different- improper information on social me- force7 has addressed that issue or is ly, and employees who have heard dia is that, unlike unheard hallway working on it. Connecting agency about legal issues elsewhere in the conversations, there is an oppor- employees so they can benefit from government may be unnecessarily tunity to learn about this spread of knowledge and experience in other wary of exploring the social media misinformation and respond quickly departments and agencies can be terrain. Federal workers need to to correct it among employees or the highly useful. GSA’s website has an know how to seek guidance on the public. For example, during the first abundance of how-to and best-prac- law as it relates to social media, just critical days after the 2011 nuclear tice information that outlines what as federal workers had to familiarize crisis and the beginning of radiation agencies are doing with social me- themselves with and adapt to regu- leaks in Japan, some commentators dia and how to get started.8 It also is lations in the Paperwork Reduction were spreading incorrect informa- useful for social media experts scat- Act and 508 Compliance. tion online about how to use potas- tered throughout one agency to dis- The GSA provides clear guid- sium iodide in a nuclear emergency, cuss with others in the agency pos- ance on how to use social media according to an interviewee. The sible ways to deploy social media. without stepping on legal landmines. CDC used its website and Facebook When it comes to understand- Managers who desire contact in- page to curb the panic that had ing the legal issues related to so- formation for individuals at their Americans far from the radiation cial media, government employees agency who can help them comply site taking the drug unnecessarily. often are at a loss. Many can recall with federally approved terms-of- when agencies severely regulated service agreements can find them at Internet use. Ever-changing and HowTo.gov on the “Agency Points complex terms-of-service issues, as of Contact”9 page; those who would well as privacy, confidentiality or like to contact their agency’s rep- security concerns, can deter risk- resentative can go to HowTo.gov’s “Members of the Federal Web Man- ager’s Council”10 page. HowTo.gov 7 U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Analytical Perspectives-Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2013  (Wash- 9 “Agency Points of Contact,” HowTo.gov, ington, DC: GPO, 2012), 120, http://www. http://www.howto.gov/web-content/re- whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/ sources/tools/terms-of-service-agreements/ budget/fy2013/assets/management.pdf (ac- agency-points-of-contact (accessed 15 Nov. cessed 1 Aug. 2012). 2012). 8 “Verify U.S. Federal Government Social 10 “Members of the Federal Web Manager’s Media Accounts,” USA.gov, http://www.usa. Council,” HowTo.gov, http://www.howto. gov/Contact/verify-social-media.shtml (ac- gov/about-us/members (accessed 15 Nov. cessed 15 Nov. 2012). 2012).26 PARTNERSHIP FOR PUBLIC SERVICE | BOOZ ALLEN HAMILTON
  29. 29. is just one of many sites offering re- Work within the agency’s socialsources on using social media. GSA media structureprovides easy-to-understand legal Agencies often debate who shouldguidelines via a variety of online control social media and whetherlinks and portals, including its Social it should be centralized or decen-Media Navigator,11 interviewees said. tralized, and these decisions affect how program managers move for-Value information-sharing ward with their plans and how theirNo matter how sophisticated the strategies can be carried out. Theremedium, it provides little advantage are tradeoffs to the question of cen-if people are not willing to share and tralized versus decentralized, andseek information there. An agency delays in choosing the path forwardsupportive of social media values the can hinder the strategic-planningability to share information and to process. The choices, often decidedlearn from it. It also recognizes and above the program level, include what other groups are already doing.rewards employees whose behavior whether there is one agency account This advisory role enables groupsreflects those values. “If you reward for a particular social media plat- to cross-promote each other’s work,hoarding, that’s what you’ll get,” ex- form and whether the content on enhance their specialization andplained one interviewee, referring to the site or applications is controlled penetrate audiences better by takingsome employees’ penchant for keep- by a single person or team, or sever- advantage of networks their peersing information in one place such as al people or departments across the have already established.a cabinet or desk. On the other hand, agency. Factors that influence that Another strategy for overcom-incentives can encourage the use of decision include agency size, diver- ing the inherent tensions betweena new social media outlet or app. sity of missions, resources and ex- centralized and decentralized so- pertise, and geographic distribution cial media structures is to have aWelcome outside talent of offices. The onus is on program centralized website or app main-When taking inventory of program and project managers to understand tained by users dispersed through-or project resources, it is important their agency’s social media structure out the agency. An agency can haveto include outside talent as a poten- and guidelines and continually mon- one account on each platform andtial resource, one interviewee said. itor them for changes. encourage contributions from vari-Expert professionals in the private Centralized mechanisms allow ous people or offices. For example,or nonprofit sectors have seen the for greater efficiency and account- DOE solicits volunteers from acrosschallenges and opportunities of us- ability, while decentralized mecha- the agency to participate in videoing social media and can discuss the nisms allow for greater flexibility, chats, said an interviewee. Scientistsreal-world problems of using data. speed and customization. Our inter- can offer their expertise during aOutside specialists can: views showed that there are ways real-time session without having to past this polarizing debate. One pos- worry about the technical elementsɚɚ Add credibility to a strategy a sibility is to have a centralized of- of social media management or hav- program manager proposes, fice that recommends consolidating ing to appear routinely. These chats increasing buy-in from social media accounts when appro- allow scientists and other employ- stakeholders priate. In this way, a centralized of- ees to feel like they are contributing fice has an overview of the agency’s to social media, and to the program,ɚɚ Provide useful experience and agency or project goals that social activities but does not have to grant perspective media is assisting with, without hav- authority to subordinate offices andɚɚ Transcend internal politics offer information and advice. The ing to become an expert in usingɚɚ Share specialized knowledge central office also may choose to them. and expertise maintain the main account, but oth- ers might open their own accounts.ɚɚ Shorten the learning curve For example, an interviewee said that NASA does not have to autho- rize social media use by individuals,11 “Guidance for the Official Use of Social but when an office, project or personMedia,” U.S. General Services Administration, is interested in starting an account,gsa.gov, http://www.gsa.gov/portal/catego- the central office is able to tell themry/101299 (accessed 15 Nov. 2012). #CONNECTEDGOV 27