Open data and emerging technologies—including artificial intelligence and distributed ledgers, such as blockchain—hold vast potential to transform public services held back by bureaucracy and outdated IT systems. We are opening the doors to bold, fresh ideas for government accountability, transparency and citizen participation by working with U.S. businesses, civil society groups and others to shape national goals for emerging technologies and open data in public services. At our upcoming collaborative workshop, Emerging Technology and Open Data for a More Open Government, we invite new partners to help craft potential goals to be integrated into the fourth U.
“Hey, Computer, how do I access my public services?” Citizens will soon be able to ask their Intelligent Personal Assistants (IPA) this question through an Emerging Citizen Technology open-sourced pilot program. The purpose of the initiative is to guide dozens of federal programs make public service information available through automated, self-service platforms for the home and office such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana and Facebook Messenger. Last week, participants from more than a dozen federal agencies, both in D.
The demand for more automated, self-service access to United States public services, when and where citizens need them, grows each day—and so do advances in the consumer technologies like Intelligent Personal Assistants designed to meet those challenges. The U.S. General Services Administration’s (GSA) Emerging Citizen Technology program, part of the Technology Transformation Service’s Innovation Portfolio, launched an open-sourced pilot to guide dozens of federal programs to make public service information available to consumer Intelligent Personal Assistants (IPAs) for the home and office, such as Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, Google Assistant, and Facebook Messenger.
We at DigitalGov want to hear more about you – your job, your role, the challenges you face — all of it — as you work to deliver more secure, effective, and reliable digital services for the public. We are going to start holding user-research sessions with our readers who work in the federal government. This will be a big part of how we listen to and learn about those who are providing the public with better services and what their core needs are.
DigitalGov University (DGU), the events platform for DigitalGov, provides programming to build and accelerate digital capacity by providing webinars and in-person events highlighting innovations, case studies, tools, and resources. Thanks to your participation, DGU hosted over 90 events with 6,648 attendees from over 100 agencies across federal, tribal, state, and local governments. DGU strives to provide training throughout the year that is useful and relevant to you. One of the most resounding comments from digital managers last year was people wanted to be able to attend all of our classes virtually.
Today we’re launching three new initiatives powered by GSA Digital Communities that leap federal agencies ahead on some of the most innovative new capabilities becoming available to our programs — Artificial Intelligence, Virtual/Augmented Reality, and the U.S. Digital Registry. These new Communities and portal are products of inter-agency collaboration and our shared commitment pushing the bar forward on effective adoption of digital public services that meet the needs of citizens today and tomorrow… and plant seeds for growing long into the future.
As you know, over the last few years DigitalGov has surfaced the innovative advancements many are making across the government space while providing a platform for learning best practices and coming together as a community. Over the course of the next few weeks, a small team from 18F and Office of Products and Programs are working on reimagining a future DigitalGov and DigitalGov University. We are looking to talk to a few readers of DigitalGov.
Welcome to the first Dear Search article, an occasional series where the DigitalGov Search team addresses common search questions. Dear Search, Right now, I am building up user research services that can be offered to product owners on a regular or as-needed basis. So, being able to look at search trends and offer advice to teams seems like a good start. When you are trying to understand user behavior based on search data, how do you typically go about it?
USA.gov’s Analytics Success: using analytics data to inform design and responsivity to create a better experience for the user Last year, the USA.gov team found themselves facing a challenge. We were in need of a new content management system for our websites, USA.gov and Gobierno.USA.gov, which help people find and understand the most frequently requested government information. We wanted to align the content on those websites with content in the knowledge base used by our contact center; up until this point, the information in those two places had been similar but unique.
Health Resources and Services Administration’s Analytics Success: Using Analytics to Reduce Content and Improve User Experience Unlike out-of-town guests, you want your web visitors to stick around. So, if your site continues to see a bounce rate that stubbornly refuses to drop—it’s time to make some changes. That’s exactly what happened to the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau’s (MCHB) website. Last year, in 2015, the site’s average bounce rate was 63% — and more than 70% for some key landing pages.
USAJOBS’ Analytics Success: using analytics to create accurate testing strategies. Accurate testing strategies are crucial to ensure quality products. Hi-fidelity approaches ensure QA efforts are testing in a true-to-life manner, similar to real-world users. Inaccurate, lo-fidelity testing can miss situational bugs that become showstoppers in production. USAJOBS is leveraging the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) to form high-fidelity, accurate testing strategies that mimic production site-usage in the most accurate way possible.
FTC’s Analytics Success: Making mission-related tasks easier for the user to find In the summer of 2015, members of the Federal Trade Commission’s Office of Public Affairs (OPA) Web team worked with their FTC colleagues to analyze Digital Analytics Program (DAP) Google Analytics data (onsite search queries, landing pages, pageviews, etc.) for FTC.gov. We found that many visitors were coming to the site to perform mission-related tasks, such as filing a complaint or reporting identity theft.
This is the final post in the 5-part series, The Right Tools for the Job: Re-Hosting DigitalGov Search to a Dynamic Infrastructure Environment. Federal websites are required to implement DNSSEC, which relies on knowing exactly what server is responding to a request. In Amazon Web Services (AWS), the problem of unreliable servers is solved by Elastic Load Balancing (ELB). An ELB containing one or more servers is presented to the world as a single hostname — say, usasearch-elb.
This is post 4 in the 5-part series, The Right Tools for the Job: Re-Hosting DigitalGov Search to a Dynamic Infrastructure Environment. This post references the previous posts frequently, so please read those before reading this one if you haven’t done so already. In addition to the DNS challenges created by offering “masked” domains such as nasasearch.nasa.gov, we also had to solve the problem of how to maintain SSL certificates for the main search.
This is post 3 in the 5-part series The Right Tools for the Job: Re-Hosting DigitalGov Search to a Dynamic Infrastructure Environment. “All problems in computer science can be solved by another level of indirection, except of course for the problem of too many indirections.” – David Wheeler The simplest of our four requirements was to allow customers to choose whether to use the search.usa.gov domain for their search results page, or create a “masked” domain name such as search.
This is post 2 in the 5-part series The Right Tools for the Job: Re-Hosting DigitalGov Search to a Dynamic Infrastructure Environment. The last major infrastructure upgrade that DigitalGov Search had was in 2010. Not only has technology evolved significantly since then, but so have business models for right-sizing costs. Moving to Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure allowed us to improve reliability by creating self-healing servers and distributing the service across four physically isolated datacenters, and reduce datacenter costs by 40% per month — no longer do we have to pay for peak throughput capacity overnight, on weekends, or during other predictably low-traffic periods.
This is the first post of a 5-part series. DigitalGov Search is a commercial-grade search engine provided as a shared-service by the United States General Services Administration. We power about 2,300 search configurations for hundreds of federal, state, and local government agencies. Using our platform, agencies can easily configure a search experience for the public that brings together resources from across their many publishing platforms: websites, blogs and feeds, social media, and government-specific resources like rules and notices from the Federal Register, and posts from USAJobs.
We’ve expanded analytics.usa.gov to include 15(!) more agency-specific dashboard pages. We now offer agency-specific analytics data pages for a total of 25 major federal agencies, and each one is accessible from the dropdown menu at the top of the site. Additionally, we’ve moved the downloadable datasets to their own pages, rather than be located on the dashboard pages themselves. The page to download aggregated data for all participating sites is now analytics.
How to start an innovation movement: Connect innovators with fellow innovators, and find more innovators to collaborate with. This idea underpins a new pilot from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which seeks to harness the power of collaboration among the public and government to better serve veterans. Currently, eight VA centers around the United States are participating in the VA Innovators Network pilot. The pilot allows VA employees to propose and test ideas in a “test small, fail small” environment, with the goal of scaling successful solutions to the entire VA system.
Agencies can participate in the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) by implementing the DAP script block. It’s a simple line of of code that enables you to take advantage DAP: (Example) You can use this line to enhance the Web analytics solution with additional query string parameters. The query string parameters pass data that enable features within the code. They can also help configure settings in the code. It allows you to leverage more features in DAP or extract more data out of DAP.
We’ve added agency-specific dashboards to analytics.usa.gov! Starting today, you’ll see a dropdown from the main analytics.usa.gov page that allows you to view the same dashboard, but filtered for websites that are administered by one of 10 specific agencies: Department of Commerce Department of Education Department of Energy Department of the Interior Department of Justice Department of Veterans Affairs Environmental Protection Agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration National Archives and Records Administration Small Business Administration What Do These Pages Show Me?
It’s not a secret that mobile Internet viewership is booming, but according to a ComScore report released last June, 49% of the audiences for the top 100 digital properties are now mobile-only. Additionally, during the third quarter last year, Gartner reported PC shipments fell 7.7% while IDC Research reported a 10.8% decline. The switch to mobile will continue, and for government websites, the trend is no different. For this reason, it’s important to optimize your mobile experience.
Whether for voter registration, health services or questions about taxes, trusting what and who you engage with online is critical. We’d like to introduce to you a new API-generating repository for official third-party sites, social media platforms and mobile apps in the United States federal government that can help you do that and remove bureaucratic and technological barriers between users and digital public services. It’s called the U.S. Digital Registry, and we hope you’ll join us in using it to develop a new generation of services that:
In 1927, Charles Lindbergh won the Orteig Prize for becoming the first pilot to fly nonstop from New York to Paris. Few know that Lindbergh won $25,000 for the flight, but everybody knows about the revolution that followed. That transatlantic flight opened people’s minds to what was possible in air travel. Investment in the aviation industry exploded, as did the number of people buying plane tickets. Obviously, the impact of the Orteig Prize continues to this day.
At GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT), we offer technology services and tools to make government work better. To help us gauge the effectiveness of the programs we offer to other government agencies, in 2013 we launched our first Government Customer Experience Index (GCXi) survey. This annual email survey consistently measures customer satisfaction, loyalty and ease of use for various OCSIT programs. A previous post about the GCXi (OCSIT’s 2015 Customer Survey—What We Learned) generated lots of questions from readers about the back-end processes we use to conduct the survey and turn customer data into action.
It’s Saturday night: Do you know what your mobile app is doing? Securing your mobile device is hard (no matter what day of the week). And there are numerous threats that can be posed by the apps on your device: an app could be spying on you, stealing your money, stealing data or reconfiguring the settings on your device. Security and privacy are part of the six Mobile User Experience Guidelines developed by the MobileGov Community of Practice.
_Author’s note: Anyone can contribute to the development of the Open Opportunities platform via the project’s GitHub repository. The Open Opportunities program itself is only open to federal employees. _ Open, agile software development projects can improve government initiatives. As discussed in last week’s article on agile projects in government, the Open Opportunities platform has benefited from increased collaboration within government as well as from contributions from outside of government.
What are your agency’s website visitors looking for? Can they find it easily? How do you know? Search analytics provide valuable data that can positively affect an agency’s Web strategy. This topic was the focus of a recent webinar, Show Me the Data: Leveraging Analytics in DigitalGov Search. Dawn Pointer McCleskey, acting program manager for DigitalGov Search, discussed how agencies can leverage their search to improve the quality of their agency’s website.
When we launched analytics.usa.gov with the Digital Analytics Program, the U.S. Digital Service, and the White House last March, we purposefully made it very easy to adapt and wrote language on the website to let people know they could use the code without restriction: This open source project is in the public domain, which means that this website and its data are free for you to use without restriction. You can find the code for this website and the code behind the data collection on GitHub.
As a followup to the recent post about our annual customer satisfaction survey, we wanted to dig into the data and share some of the overall results, to give you some more insights into how we’re using your feedback to improve our programs and services. Background: For the past three years, GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT) has conducted an annual survey to measure customer satisfaction.
Agile methods help agencies deliver projects and products more efficiently and effectively. The benefits aren’t limited to deliverables: Going agile can break down the silos that exist between and within agencies. And collaboration doesn’t need to end at the federal level—agile projects done in the open provide a way for the public to contribute to government initiatives. Transitioning to agile development has benefited Open Opportunities, a platform that helps agencies tap into federal expertise and provides professional development opportunities to federal employees.
As we look ahead to 2016, we wanted to take a minute to look at our most popular content in 2015 and reflect on our second year. This was a big year for DigitalGov as we saw our session traffic nearly double and our weekly and daily email subscribers increase by 15%. DigitalGov was also named as a 2015 must-read blog by FedTech magazine, which is due to the great contributions from our guest authors, representing 42 agencies and departments across the federal government!
2015 was a big year for 18F. We almost doubled in size, worked with 28 different agency partners, and released products ranging from Design Method Cards to cloud.gov. Internally, we improved onboarding and our documentation by releasing guides on topics as diverse as content, accessibility, and creating good open source projects. To mark the end of the year, we reached out to everyone at 18F and asked them to reflect on a meaningful project they worked on this year.
Three years ago, GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT) set out to design a system to consistently measure customer satisfaction across our office. We were inspired by the Digital Government Strategy, which tasks agencies to adopt a customer-centric approach to service delivery. Armed with tools such as the Digital Analytics Program (DAP), which offers guidance on common customer satisfaction metrics, we developed a Government Customer Experience Index (GCXi) for OCSIT.
Meeting customer needs can be done, no matter what agency you represent. A panel discussion at the 2015 DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit delved into customer experience (CX) work at three agencies with diverse missions. Andrew Hughey, Product Development Director at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), moderated the panel that featured Stephanie Thum, Vice President of Customer Experience at the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), and David Simeon, myUSCIS product manager for U.
You can find cute kitten photos online, but you can’t find Ben Franklin’s jetpack (well, you can search for it, but you won’t find it!). For government agencies, connecting users to information is a critical part of meeting the public’s needs and delivering excellent customer service. DigitalGov Search helps agencies deliver information to government searchers on every level—federal, state, local, and tribal. Recently, search analyst Dawn McCleskey sat down to discuss the work of DigitalGov Search, including:
We are proud to announce our commitment to the third U.S. National Action Plan for Open Government, released this week at the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Global Summit in Mexico City, Mexico, and are also eager to share how Public Participation can empower our citizens to have a greater voice and impact in improving their services. In her opening comments at the OGP Summit, Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, noted that making a real impact for citizens takes more than a focus on just increasing social media followers or touting simulated performance, and instead we must dedicate digital engagement programs to providing real, meaningful paths to participation.
Innovators are made, not born. This summer, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began cultivating the next generation of federal innovators through a summer incubator boot camp, aimHI. AimHI is a pilot program to get high school students excited about careers in health information technology, medical devices and public service. Instead of traditional internships, which can be cost-prohibitive and focused on menial tasks, aimHI provides a free opportunity where students learn by doing and by creating their own experiences.
Providing professional development for over 100,000 employees is no easy task. To build on the existing skills of their workforce, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has piloted AgOpportunity, a program that matches USDA employees with projects that need their skills and interest. The idea for AgOpportunity came from the Partnership for Public Service’s Excellence in Government (EIG) Fellowship program. As part of the year-long program, fellows were split into teams and charged with creating a results-orientated program that could effect real change in government.
To promote crowdsourcing, one effective tool is, well, crowdsourcing. Today, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Federal Community of Practice for Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science (CCS) unveiled the Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing Toolkit. The toolkit contains information, resources, and best practices federal agencies can use to harness the power of public participation. Specifically, the toolkit provides: Process steps—An outline of five important steps agencies can use to plan, design and implement crowdsourcing or citizen science projects Case studies—Demonstrated success stories, benefits and challenges from other federal agencies that can inspire new projects or help in pitching ideas Map of U.
We are awash in data. Data in our personal lives gives us information on everything from our nightly sleeping patterns to how many of our friends shared our latest quip on social media. So too in our professional world, where we can see the most popular devices people use to navigate our websites and are told which time of day is the best to send out our communications. All of this data can help us make smart decisions that will ultimately provide our customers with a better experience—but only if we know what our end goals are and what metrics we need to measure to get there.
No one likes to be told no. This is especially true at work, when you’re moving toward something that you feel is in the best interest of your customers. But so often in government, our forward progress gets slowed down by others in our organization who we think “just don’t get it”—namely those in content, legal, procurement and security. A group of self-proclaimed naysayers came together to dispel myths and share advice to help everyone work together, during a panel discussion at the second annual DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit, held in May.
Following the recent OMB memo that all publicly available federal websites and Web services must implement HTTPS by December 31, 2016, Web content managers across government are considering the SEO (search engine optimization) implications of the transition, among other details. In August 2014, Google confirmed that HTTPS is a ranking signal in their algorithm. But being a ranking signal and having an impact on findability are two different things.
In 2015, DigitalGov Search dramatically expanded support for languages on our search results page, expanding from just English and Spanish to support 68 different languages. Government agencies across the United States publish content in a growing number of languages to do the business of the country. Language-specific websites and mobile apps include not just translated content, but also site navigation and other lexical elements. This month marks the 15th anniversary of EO 13166, which directed federal agencies and federally funded programs to provide meaningful access to information for people with limited English proficiency.
How can government protect citizens while delivering the services they demand in the modern age? This was a theme of the panel discussion on privacy and identity management at the 2015 DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit. “Cybersecurity has really come a long way in the last 10 years, unifying the conversation about risk across organizations,” said Sean Brooks, panelist and privacy engineer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), “but privacy has really lagged behind.
The Internet of Things is already here. How will we prepare for the Internet of Everything? David Bray, Chief Information Officer at the Federal Communications Commission, and Eisenhower Fellow, spoke about the IoT, IoE, and the need for change agents during the 2015 DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit. Bray argued that the IoT is already here, with devices like smartphones and FitBits widely used. As we move towards the IoE, when everything is connected, Bray asked attendees to consider the implications of IoE on what we do in public service.
Seven million dollars is a big price tag. That is the amount Forbes predicts organizations will spend on analytics-related initiatives in 2015, according to a recent report. While government agencies may not have big budgets for data analysis, we do have tons of data—survey data, usability data, campaign data—that should be leveraged to drive decisions. This idea was the subject of a panel discussion during the second annual DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit, held in May.
In this digital age, we know customers expect their government interactions to be on the same level as their interactions with the private sector. Agencies are always striving to improve the quality of their services to meet their customers’ needs. So too in our office, where we use the feedback, you, our agency customers, provide to help us improve our programs. For this month’s theme, we are looking at how some of our services can help you better meet the needs of your customers.
Who do you need to bring to the table to make a better world? In May, Megan Smith, Chief Technology Officer of the United States, delivered the keynote address at the 2015 DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit. She encouraged attendees to find ways of unlocking potential through collaborations from both within and outside of government. “We have extraordinary teammates across government,” Smith said. “It’s one of the coolest things. I just came here in September from Silicon Valley.
Social media is front and center at Share.America.gov, a U.S. Department of State site managed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, that describes itself as a “platform for sharing compelling stories and images that spark discussion and debate on important topics like democracy, freedom of expression, innovation, entrepreneurship, education, and the role of civil society.” The truth is that you don’t really need to read that statement to know its purpose.
You cannot improve your digital outreach without data. Since 2012, the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) has provided agencies the critical information and metrics that they need to make their public-facing websites better. The buzz around DAP has grown with the release of the Digital Analytics Dashboard, which provides a real-time glimpse into government Web traffic, and Pulse, a dashboard showing the percentage of agencies that have implemented DAP. Both dashboards rely on DAP data to inform the public about government Web activities.
DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit: Reflections from Our Livestream Host, and Full Recording Now Available!
The second annual DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit was held at GSA headquarters in Washington, DC on May 21. This year’s Summit sold out early to in person attendees, attracted nearly 1,200 folks to sign up, and for the first time a live stream was offered for online viewers across the country. I was honored to serve as this year’s virtual livestream host for the Summit. We’ve kicked off the #DigitalGov15 Summit with @USCTO @jakegab @gwynnek @PSChrousos!
The U.S. federal government is launching a new project to monitor how it’s doing at best practices on the Web. A sort of health monitor for the U.S. government’s websites, it’s called Pulse and you can find it at pulse.cio.gov. Pulse is a lightweight dashboard that uses the official .gov domain list to measure two things: Analytics: Whether federal executive branch domains are participating in the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) that powers analytics.
[metaslider id=274602] Digital innovators from across government were asked to think of technology as digital service for their country at today’s DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit. The theme of this year’s Summit was “open.” The agenda was packed with presentations about how “opening” data, content, contracts and talent makes digital citizen services better, more effective or even cheaper. A diverse array of topics were addressed, including privacy and identity management, 3D printing, and agile methodology.
Mobile-friendliness is a must for government. We know there are a number of agencies who have mobile-friendly digital products that we don’t know about, and they deserve their day in the sun. We need your help to find them. So today, at the DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit you will find the MobileGov Community of Practice Expo Table, where we are kicking off the Great Federal Mobile Product Hunt. The mission of the hunt is simple—find the mobile apps or websites not listed on the registry.
The DigitalGov platform helps federal agencies meet 21st century digital expectations, and we’ve planned our second DigitalGov Summit with this mission and your needs in mind. The theme is open and the agenda is packed with presentations about how “opening” data, content, contracts and talent makes digital citizen services better, more effective and even cheaper. Attending Virtually For our Summit this Thursday, we have an amazing line up of speakers and YOU can still sign-up to attend.
We know search engines aren’t Magic 8 Balls, but that’s still how we expect them to behave. We want them to answer our complex and burning questions based on just a few words. And we’ve felt that frustration when the top search results don’t serve our needs, and the results page itself makes us work. At DigitalGov Search, we think a lot about how to make the public’s search experience on government websites better.
As the product manager of Sites, my job is to make sure that our service delivers what we offer: provide an easy, fast and cost‐effective solution for federal agencies that want to create a secure government website to reach the public. With 40 websites that are currently live or in active development, our program is constantly evolving. Our roadmap is filled with milestones designed to improve our service, address our customers’ needs, and keep our platform up to date.
As a task creator with an ambitious agenda and limited resources, I’ve got a great deal of incentive to make the most use that I can of Open Opportunities. And indeed, Open Opportunities participants have made a concrete and positive difference in the operations of our office, the Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office, part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the Department of Commerce. Open Opportunities participants have, among other things:
We are busting at the seams with excitement because the DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit is less than a month away! Today we are announcing the working agenda and confirmed speakers. The Summit, which will be taking place on Thursday, May 21, 2015 from 9 am-1 pm, has an all-star lineup that was put together with help from you and the Summit Sounding Board. This timely program includes:
2 a.m. EDT, April 16 Looks like the traffic peak for #TaxDay was around 3:00 pm when 194,301 people were on government sites. We’re now less than one-quarter of that traffic, and the more regular patterns of top sites are reasserting themselves. We’re talking about YOU, NASA astronomy picture of the day and that wonderful one-armed spiral galaxy. Welcome back! And, it’s a wrap. Thanks for following along as we explored a day in the federal web.
Sign up now to watch the DigitalGov Summit “Spring 2015 DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit”) from the comfort of your desk! We are excited to announce that although we’ve sold out in-person attendance for the DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit, we have just opened up registration to attend virtually. Virtual attendance will be an awesome way to experience the event with extras not offered to in-person attendees. Bernetta Reese from the U.
Every day, millions of people use their laptops, phones, and tablets to check the status of their tax refund, get the latest forecast from the National Weather Service, book a campsite at one of our national parks, and much more. There were more than 1.3 billion visits to websites across the federal government in just the past 90 days. Today, during Sunshine Week when we celebrate openness and transparency in government, we are pleased to release the Digital Analytics Dashboard, a new window into the way people access the government online.
Here’s another other opportunity to show DigitalGov innovators what you got! The spring Digital Citizen Services Summit “Spring 2015 DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit”) will host an expo, like we did in 2014, where you can showcase your program or service. This way participants will get a chance to meet the people behind innovative programs across the federal government and explore collaborations and knowledge sharing with you. We are inviting you to submit information about the project you want to showcase for a chance to exhibit.
DigitalGov University has hosted some great events over the last year in partnership with Data.gov, the MobileGov Community and 18F to bring you information on opening data and building APIs. This month we’ve rounded up the events over the past year so that you can see what’s been offered. Use the comments below to offer up suggestions on what else you’d like to see on the schedule.
The Digital Analytics Program (DAP) is a cornerstone of the 2012 Digital Government Strategy’s mission to improve the citizen experience by streamlining the collection and analysis of digital analytics data on a federal government-wide scale. The DAP, provided by GSA to all federal executive branch agencies, delivers digital analytics tools (like Web analytics and customer satisfaction survey tools), performance metrics guidance, metrics benchmarks, and training, all at no cost.
The federal government has IT challenges, and innovative federal projects are tackling those challenges head-on. As projects gain momentum, outside organizations have taken notice. Recently, Data.gov and DigitalGov’s Digital Analytics Program (DAP) were recognized by the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council (ACT-IAC), among 30 other finalists for the Igniting Innovation Award. ACT-IAC’s 2015 Igniting Innovation Showcase and Awards recognized tools, solutions, services and programs developed by government and industry leaders.
Practice makes perfect. But in the mobile world, it’s testing that makes products better. For federal agencies that have developed their own apps or mobile-friendly sites, the CrowdSource Mobile Testing Program offers a simple way to collect feedback on compatibility testing. Since the program’s inception in March 2013, eight federal mobile websites (including responsive design) have been tested by 65 federal employees from 41 agencies. The benefits are twofold: agencies receive actionable feedback about their mobile websites, and testers gain valuable knowledge about mobile websites that they can share with their own agencies.
Things you don’t know about this website, DigitalGov.gov, that is. It’s our first birthday, and we’re celebrating by sharing some fun facts with you. A more sober look at our strategy can be read on our 6-month post, but this is a party post! w00t! We’ve published an impressive 480 articles and counting (this post is like #485), and we are learning more and more about you. You still love posts on metrics and on customer service, but “Government Open and Structured Content Models are Here”?
Top tasks matter. Visitors come to your website with specific goals in mind. Using a top-task methodology can be particularly useful when redesigning your homepage. But, top tasks aren’t the whole story. Our government websites also have a large range of tiny tasks that, when managed carefully, have the potential to deliver value. In The Stranger’s Long Neck, Gerry McGovern explains how, when visitors come to your website, they have a small set of top tasks they want to complete quickly and easily.
Thanks to your awesome input on the Citizen Services Summit agenda and the rallying of the Summit Sounding Board, we now have more than 70 ideas and 50 comments on those ideas. Vote early and Vote often! We’ve opened up the voting floodgates for these 70 ideas until February 28th! Now you can help choose programming by voting and commenting on the ideas you want to see make it on the agenda.
You may have seen this icon on our calendar recently. This icon indicates a digitalgov “friend event.” What’s a Friend Event Does your agency offer training or events to help improve digital services? Are they free? Are they open to other federal government agencies? If you answered YES to all three questions then you have a friend event that we want on the [DigitalGov Calendar]( /events .
Performance Analytics for Social Media Decision Making. Creating Adaptive Content. Usability Testing. These are just some of the areas of programming we are putting together. After taking a look at the most widely attended events in 2014, we decided to gather ideas we received from community and program leads for our 2015 events lineup through DigitalGov University (DGU). We’ve identified primary needs in each community, but this is just the top of the line-up because we will continue to offer just-in-time training on the things you need when you need it.
In recent years, DigitalGov University (DGU) has evolved from a prescriptive training program to a more agile program looking to federal government leaders like you to share the innovations, tools, resources, hurdles and case studies of how you work to meet the digital expectations of the 21st century citizen customer better. Whew. That’s a mouthful. Thanks to all the participation from you, across many agencies, we’ve hosted over 100 events this past year with over 8,000 attendees.
You might remember in the post Crowdsourced Digital Citizen Services Summit we said “Go to Citizen Services Summit 2015. Go there now!” Well if you haven’t yet, there is still time to go there and propose a session, idea, or speaker. Anyone can propose a session. We’re accepting proposals through the end of January. And, while you can add your proposed topic anonymously, if you create an account, you’ll be able to edit or add to your suggestion and get feedback from us.
The General Services Administration’s (GSA’s) focus on customer experience can be traced back to its inception on July 1, 1949, when President Truman created a new federal agency to manage and store government records, handle emergency preparedness, and stockpile strategic supplies for wartime. While our customer focus has stayed with us, GSA’s mission has morphed and expanded to include real estate, contracting, technology, and much more. With such a wide and varied portfolio, it’s often hard for customers to navigate all the programs and services we offer, so we’re making some changes to improve customer experience at GSA.
With public expectations at an all-time high, and trust in government nearing all-time lows, agencies need to step up their game. Veterans, seniors, students, taxpayers—all Americans—deserve the best service from their government. Here are our predictions for how the federal government will improve customer service in the coming year: 1. Many agencies will create a Customer Office that reports to the head of the agency. In most government agencies, no one owns the overall customer experience.
As I mentioned in a recent blog post about image search, we’re avid users of Elasticsearch for search. We also recently ported another vital part of our system to Elasticsearch: analytics. This post is a technical deep dive into how our analytics system works, and specifically how and why we used Elasticsearch to build it. Background DigitalGov Search is essentially one giant software-as-a-service (SaaS), with 1,500 government websites as its customers.
In May 2015, we’re hosting the second DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit “Spring 2015 DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit”). This round we are looking to you—federal innovators across government—to help build the agenda. We want to get you the information you need, ignite discussion, foster sharing, build capacity, even get you to challenge and debate each other in the name of delivering better digital services. So, we’ve set up a crowdsourcing platform where you can suggest presentation ideas and vote for your favorites.
Being customer-focused means doing the gumshoe work of research and rounds of analysis to find gold by understanding user goals. For the task-based innovation network, Open Opportunities for DigitalGov, that meant developing personas in order to overcome our own biases and learn about the different motivations of our participants. In this article, we’ll talk about how we created our personas and how we plan to use them to meet both innovators’ and program needs.
How important is it to show the most relevant result at the top of your search results page? Very. Searchers expect to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily—and without scrolling—when they search on government websites. If a Web page isn’t “above the fold” as one of the first listings on the first results page, the data shows that there is little chance of it ever being clicked. If it happens to fall on page 2 or beyond, it becomes a vanishingly small part of a very long tail.
DigitalGov University took the pulse of our participants this spring and found that our audience wants more information about events, wants us to better communicate the value of programs and wants more access to our programs. DigitalGov University (DGU) is a platform for feds to share ideas, experiences and techniques to meet 21st century public expectations for digital government. We host live events and webinars to supplement the content on DigitalGov geared toward feds working in the digital space.
In the first part of A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Tokens, I explained why we built a social media-driven image search engine, and specifically how we used Elasticsearch to build its first iteration. In this week’s post, I’ll take a deep dive into how we worked to improve relevancy, recall, and the searcher’s experience as a whole. Redefine Recency To solve the scoring problem on older photos for archival photostreams, we decided that after some amount of time, say six weeks, we no longer wanted to keep decaying the relevancy on photos.
No Mobile Gov Month on DigitalGov would be complete without an update on the Internet of Things. Regardless if you’re talking wearables, smart homes, sensors or any other connected device, your current mobile approaches will be impacted—as will your social media, user experience and data strategies. When we last visited the topic in April, discussion in the federal government was minimal. That’s no longer the case. Just this month there were multiple panels about it at the Tech-In-State: Mobile Diplomacy event and the Federal Trade Commision (FTC) was very active at the 2nd Annual Internet of Things Global Summit where FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez gave a keynote about challenges around IOT.
Increasingly, we’ve noticed that our agency customers are publishing their highest quality images on social media and within database-driven multimedia galleries on their websites. These sources are curated, contain metadata, and have both thumbnails and full-size images. That’s a big improvement in quality over the images embedded within HTML pages on agencies’ websites. After some investigating, we decided we could leverage their Flickr and Instagram photos to build an image search engine that better met their needs.
Would federal employees work on tasks outside their agency in order to support DigitalGov? That’s the question we wanted to answer as we created the Open Opportunities program. We had a built-in test case. When the Digital Government Strategy was released in May 2013, agencies were tasked with building APIs, launching mobile products, establishing digital governance and getting better customer feedback. Our team at GSA was chartered to support agencies, and we were looking for innovators across government to contribute.
Content is no longer limited to .gov sites. As mentioned in a recent blog post, Sharing is Caring, Adding Social Media Accounts to Search, DigitalGov Search uses Flickr, Instagram, and YouTube to populate image and video search results. On September 30, 2014, I presented with Justin Herman from the Social Media Community of Practice about: What DigitalGov Search is How it integrates social image and video search How search analytics can help social media managers better understand their customers’ needs If you weren’t able to join us, you can download the slides or view the 30 minute webinar on YouTube.
They say that customer experience (CX) is the new marketing. People will tell their friends about their experience with your agency, and social media makes it easy to broadcast whether the experience was easy and enjoyable, or terrible. In 1992, Congress proclaimed the first full week in October as National Customer Service Week, and as we close out Customer Service Week 2014, here’s a recap of some great customer-service-related articles published on DigitalGov.
The Office of the Federal Register’s mission “informs citizens of their rights and obligations, documents the actions of Federal agencies, and provides a forum for public participation in the democratic process.” As the winner of the Bright Idea Award, FederalRegister.gov is clear and easy to use, but most citizens rarely frequent it. More frequently they start searching for information on Google or on agency websites, where it is more difficult to discover pertinent rules and regulations.
Six months ago, we launched this DigitalGov.gov platform to support federal agencies in delivering 21st century digital services and information to the public. It seems a good time to share some of the thinking that went into the development of the platform, and what we’ve learned so far. Looking back, we knew we had great content for digital innovators. Here at the Center for Digital Government at GSA, we created the go-to references for federal agencies around Web, mobile, social media, challenges and prizes, and were growing API content.
As traffic to desktop .gov websites declines, how we publish our content increasingly matters. We need to meet people where they are as they seek information on the Internet. To do so, we need to adjust to the new world of mobile applications, social media, and instant answers provided by search engines. Freeing Content from Our Websites In this content sharing era, it is important to separate the content from how it appears on your site.
Short URLs are useful for tracking clicks, but they can create a poor user experience because the person clicking the link can’t see the final destination. That’s why Go.USA.gov was created—to show users that they would reach official government information. To maintain this trust, Go.USA.gov is only open to government employees and only shortens government URLs—that is: .mil, .gov, .fed.us, .si.edu and .state.xx.us URLs. We are willing to make exceptions for other government URLs that meet our criteria.
The Federal #SocialGov Community, a collective of almost 700 digital engagement managers from more than 120 government agencies, marked the 2nd anniversary of our program by releasing a suite of new collaborative services to help us better work together and with partners in the private sector to share resources and build public services of the 21st century. The online event, U.S. Federal SocialGov: 2 years of Smashing Silos + Elevating Citizen Services, focused on how collaborative, open participation in the development process will help public services better tackle performance analysis, policy development, accessibility for persons with disabilities, international partnerships and global digital engagement support.
On June 10, 2014, the Metrics Community of Practice of the Federal Web Managers Council and DigitalGov University hosted an event to honor the memory of Joe Pagano, a former co-chair of the Web Metrics Sub-Council. This third lecture honoring Joe focused on search engine optimization (SEO). While commercial search engines do a remarkable job of helping the public find our government information, as Web professionals, it’s also our job to help the public make sense of what they find.
Bing, Google, and Yahoo have all rolled out major redesigns to their search results pages in the past year. The last time DigitalGov Search did a major redesign of their results page was in January 2012. It was long overdue for a facelift. So, our team redesigned our search results page. We’ve kept an eye on best practices in the search industry and what media websites (like NPR.org and NYTimes.com) are up to, But, we’re not simply following the leaders.
We had a GREAT DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit today. There were more than 200 digital innovators from across government and industry working to build the 21st century government the public expects. The four panels focused on performance analysis, customer service across channels, inter-agency work, and public private partnerships. Here’s what you missed in a short highlight video. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIWwnomPxo4&w=600]
During the recent redesign of Data.gov, the team developed a process that helped them respond to public feedback, track the actions and hold themselves accountable. In a DigitalGov University webinar, “Designing in the Open—Public Participation in Government Web Design,” Phil Ashlock, chief architect at Data.gov, and Jeanne Holm, Data.gov evangelist, shared how integrating feedback from virtual, online and face-to-face testing, as well as across multiple social media platforms, helped dramatically change the design in the response to the needs of their users.
DigitalGov Search recently rolled out a new open source technology stack, which gives the team access to real-time analytics and dashboards to monitor search trends. The ELK stack consists of Elasticsearch, a real-time search and analytics engine; Logstash, a log management tool; and Kibana, a data visualization engine for creating dashboards. The dashboard-building capabilities surface trends not seen otherwise when buried in the data, Ammie Farraj Feijoo, manager of DigitalGov Search said in a recent article in GCN.
Two years ago, federal agencies were set on a fast track to create a 21st century digital government. The Federal Digital Strategy served up a heaping set of deliverables on a tight timeline. Agencies opened data sets, built mobile apps and websites, published APIs, created and updated digital governance structures, and joined with other agencies in measuring digital services performance. Last May, as the final deadlines were met, some asked, “What’s next?
Smartphones, tablets, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, not to mention your agency’s desktop website, are all clamoring for information, but sliced and diced in different ways. How can you make your content adaptive for efficient delivery to all of these mediums? Structured content and open content models can help you create content that is platform-agnostic, format-free, and device-independent. We’ve created two open and structured content models that we want you to use and adapt.
“In business, words are words, explanations are explanations, promises are promises, but only performance is reality.” Harold S. Geneen As government contact center managers, we dream of having contact center contractors who regularly exceed our performance expectations. One way to motivate your contractor to excel is by including financial incentives/disincentives directly into your contact center contract. The concept for incentives/disincentives is a simple one—pay more when your contractor over performs; pay less when your contractor under performs.
At DigitalGov Search, we keep an eye on on our what our government counterparts are up to, both in the U.S. and other countries. We recently came across Gov.UK’s philosophy on and approach to coding in the open. It caught our attention and we realized we should also articulate our open source strategy. Use and Contribute to Open Source Projects Since 2010, we’ve embraced and leveraged open source software to build our site search service for federal, state, and local government websites.
Slowness Hurts Web Pages Have you ever been frustrated when visiting a Web page that doesn’t load quickly? Have you ever left a slow Web page before it finished loading? You’re not alone. Several recent studies have quantified customers’ frustration with slow Web pages. Customers now expect results in the blink of an eye. This expectation means that your customers are won or lost in one second. A one second delay in loading a Web page equals 11% fewer page views, 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and 7% loss in conversions.
We’ve redesigned our mobile search results page. It now uses a card-based design and is responsive. This design gives searchers a more consistent user experience and access to the results anytime, anywhere, and on any device. Take a sneak peek of the new responsive results page. Go to USA.gov (or your website) from any mobile phone or tablet and do a search. See the sample results page for a search on passports on USA.
There’s tons of great work and innovations happening in federal agencies, and it is happening fast. From mobile, to social, to user experience, to APIs, to data and codesharing, agencies are embracing the 21st century citizen expectations and working to deliver anytime, anywhere, any device services and information to the public. How do we tap into this agency expertise? Learn from others’ hits and misses? Identify roadmaps, sample documents, tools?
You can now log in to Go.USA.gov with your username or email address, one of the new improvements added to the government URL shortener. Previously you could only log in with your username. You can now: Log in with your username or email address Search your short URLs Add notes to short URLs Shorten URLs from your browser with the bookmarklet Download improved CSV exports Use the API to get all short URLs from your account Learn about the new features, other minor changes, and known issues.
This week the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy released its second comprehensive report detailing the use of federal challenge and prize competitions. Read it and you’ll find details about the fiscal benefits of more than 300 competitions implemented by 45 agencies. As the report released today makes clear, agencies made big strides in the challenge arena in FY 2012. In FY 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) began establishing strategies to expand its use of the new prize authority – and by FY 2012, HHS emerged as a leader in implementing prize programs, offering 18 prize competitions, many conducted through public-private partnerships.
Thanks to the tremendous work of challenge managers across federal government and the support of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, the Challenge.gov program at GSA has been named one of the top 5 finalists in Harvard’s Innovations in American Government Award! We are honored to be among this group, after rigorous competition from all levels of government. Join us in congratulating all the finalists today. And a big pat on the back to the hundreds of champions at 59 agencies who worked on the 300+ public prize competitions to-date.
The National Park Service website, NPS.gov, is home to sites for the parks, programs, and subject-related content about the places and ideas that we preserve and protect for the American people. With roughly a thousand content authors dispersed across the country, NPS.gov receives nearly 50 million page views per month during the peak summer season, when visitors are planning their vacations. In February 2013, the NPS migrated from Adobe SiteCatalyst to the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) solution.
On Feb. 15, 2013, a meteor weighing 10,000 metric tons exploded 14 miles above Chelyabinsk, Russia. Users flocked to NASA.gov for info, and we spiked to nearly 12 million page views that day, ~16 times the daily average. Our real-time analytics showed over 300,000 active visitors on the site at peak, about 100 times more than normal traffic. And, not surprisingly, we could see a huge chunk of this traffic was coming from Russia.
The Digital Analytics Program (DAP) is delighted to announce the launch of a DAP user group and new training program. These initiatives will support DAP users in getting the most from their implementation. The kick-off for this user group will be on Thursday, September 12, 2013, when we will host a webinar to welcome users and discuss how a user group can provide the most benefit. Meeting invitations with login instructions will be sent to directly to these users two weeks before the meeting.
Digital metrics are critical for measuring, analyzing, and reporting on the effectiveness of your Web, mobile, social media, and other digital channels. Every agency should have a metrics strategy to measure performance, customer satisfaction, and engagement, and use the data to make continuous improvements to serve its customers. Part 1: Common Metrics: Guidance, Best Practices, and Tools Part 2: Reporting Requirements and Common Tools Part 3: Rationale and Framework for Common Metrics and Measures Part 4: Case Studies, Training, and Additional Resources Part 1: Common Metrics—Guidance, Best Practices, and Tools Agencies should ensure that they collect, analyze, and report on a minimum baseline set of performance and customer satisfaction measures.
Anytime, Anywhere, Any Device. The 21st century imperative to deliver government information and services to the public anytime, anywhere and on any device makes mobile a critical tactic in the federal Digital Government Strategy. Today, GSA’s Digital Services Innovation Center and the Federal CIO Council launch the Mobile Application Development Program to provide agencies with tools they need to make great mobile products available to the public. The program–developed with and by 25 agencies across government–will help agencies in each stage of mobile development.
Nine federal programs made the list! Harvard’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation announced the Top 25 Innovations in Government May 1. A winner and four finalists will be revealed this fall. TheWashington Post described how Harvard’s review committee selected the finalists and why this is important. Against the tide of talk about sequestration and cuts, positive change is happening among agencies: “… this is a story about innovation in government at a time when people, including those on the inside, generally believe government is incapable of anything close to it.
Agencies have been working away at building better digital services and here, at the Digital Services Innovation Center, we’ve been building resources to help. We have been focusing on three areas, The Digital Analytics Program. We announced this program in early October to help agencies better measure performance and customer satisfaction to improve service delivery. It includes digital metrics guidance and best practices, training and a federal-wide Web analytics tool and support.
Last month, the Obama Administration launched the Digital Government Strategy (PDF/ HTML5), 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. First, 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.
Making Mobile Gov was a three phase multi-media project created by the MobileGov Community of Practice to help federal agencies discover, discuss and design a citizen-centric path to mobile government services and information. Held during the summer 2011, this project served three strategic goals: Educate—provide resources for mobile evangelists to help inform decision makers on (1) the criticality of investing in mobile gov to provide public services and (2) the opportunities in leveraging cross-agency strategies.