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GSA: Supporting Open Government

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Earlier today, the White House blog featured GSA as a part of its President’s Cabinet Reporting to You series. In the video below, Stephen Leeds is the Acting Administrator for GSA, outlines the achievements of the agency and how it’s contributed to President Obama agenda for change in the way government works and how it supports the American people.

Leeds explains how the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) provided leadership in areas such as sustainable building design, online citizen engagement, and green IT alternatives:

In 2009, President Obama posted a challenge to Federal Agencies; Save Money, Open up the Government, and build a more sustainable future for the American people. U.S. General Services Administration – the business arm of the Government – took on this challenge by making investments in the Recovery act to construct higher performing greener buildings in communities across the country…

GSA also helped open the doors to Government by making vital Government information available on Data.gov, and through our citizen’s portal USA.gov.

In 2009, GSA helped to lay the foundation for sustainability, innovation, transparency and collaboration across Government. In 2010, we plan to continue this momentum; building toward a better Government for the American people.

As the business arm of the government, GSA is responsible for providing a platform on which other Federal agencies can build. For example, this includes making cloud computing services and applications available through Apps.gov, to be easily accessed by all government departments and agencies.

GSA’s citizen engagement

As part of its aim to provide leadership in the area of online citizen engagement it recently announced a new tool to help agencies engage the public as part of President Obama’s Open Government initiative.

The platform will allow members of the public to submit ideas and vote or comment on others’ ideas (in a similar way to the current data.gov/broadband dialogues). It will go live on the Web site of each participating agency or department on in early February, and will be active for five weeks.

Cnet reports Bev Godwin, the GSA’s director of new media and citizen engagement, saying it will cost the GSA just $3,000 to implement and will be free to each agency that wishes to use it.

Through signing agreements with various Web 2.0 sites, and standardizing citizen engagement initiatives on a few sites (i.e. Uservoice and Ideascale), GSA has ensured the public can participate and engage with government easily without having to learn new systems each time.

David McClure, associate administrator of GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Communications, explained how through electing to offer a single solution for use government wide, GSA banked on simplifying “the public engagement process for both agencies and the citizen…making the process as efficient as possible,” .

Moving forward, GSA looks to be in a good place to support the Open Government directive with innovative solutions in the areas of transparency, open data and citizen engagement.

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