GSA

Government Launches Login.Gov to Simplify Access to Public Services

Joel Minton, a member of the U.S. Digital Service, is working with GSA’s Technology Transformation Service as the director of login.gov. Tom Mills is the Chief Technology Architect at U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In early April, the U.S. Digital Service and 18F launched login.gov, a single sign-on solution for government websites that will enable citizens to access public services across agencies with the same username and password. Login.gov is currently in action at the U.

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Hybrid Cloud: A Key to Phasing in New Technologies

Like any newer technology, cloud computing has faced adoption challenges. IT managers understand the huge potential efficiency improvements and savings that cloud computing can bring to their agencies, but also have questions about security, compatibility, and funding. With these concerns and without a clear path to cloud computing, many agencies continue to maintain on-premises solutions. However, the costs of legacy systems are expensive, and this is a particularly important issue in a budget-constrained environment.

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Federalist Is out of Beta and Open for Business

If you’re a program manager or a federal web developer you’ve probably been given a seemingly simple task: Create a basic website as part of a new initiative at your agency. The hardest part is often not crafting the content or designing the prototype, but getting the security and privacy compliance in order to launch and maintain the actual website’s compliance status. For that work, you might have to hire a contractor or put extra strain on your agency’s web team.

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From Launch to Landing: How NASA Took Control of Its HTTPS Mission

18F Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Karim Said of NASA. Karim was instrumental in NASA’s successful HTTPS and HSTS migration, and we’re happy to help Karim share the lessons NASA learned from that process. In 2015, the White House Office of Management and Budget released M-15-13, a “Policy to Require Secure Connections across Federal Websites and Web Services”. The memorandum emphasizes the importance of protecting the privacy and security of the public’s browsing activities on the web, and sets a goal to bring all federal websites and services to a consistent standard of enforcing HTTPS and HSTS.

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Becoming an Agile Content Team

In March, the team of writers and editors at USAGov adopted some agile principles in an attempt to streamline our content development process. We hoped operating in a more agile manner would help us address some of the challenges we were facing as a team: Being asked to support many new projects Competing priorities Bottlenecks and silos It was a big change in the way we work. Our previous model had been based on a newsroom-style operation where people were clustered together around specific areas of content or “beats” to use the journalism terminology.

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Benefits of Accessible Design

According to the World Bank, approximately one billion people worldwide live with a disability, making up the world’s largest minority. Designing from an accessibility-first standpoint has the potential to benefit all stakeholders, not just people with disabilities, because accessible design typically delivers a better user experience. Currently many websites and digital platforms are inaccessible, which makes them difficult or impossible for people with disabilities (including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, or neurological) to use.

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Federal Pilot to Integrate Public Services Into Intelligent Personal Assistants

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.

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OIP Seeks Your Participation in the Development of the National FOIA Portal

The Office of Information Policy (OIP) is pleased to announce its collaboration with GSA’s 18F team on the development of a National FOIA Portal. This is the next step in a long line of OIP initiatives working towards a National FOIA Portal going back to 2010 with the launch of FOIA.gov. Most recently, the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 required the creation of a National FOIA Portal that is interoperable with agencies’ current systems and allows the public to submit a request for records to any agency from a single website.

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DotGov Domain Registration Program to Provide HTTPS Preloading in May

Effective May 15, 2017, GSA’s DotGov Domain Registration Program will begin providing HSTS Preloading services for federal agencies. HSTS stands for HTTP Strict Transport Security (or HTTPS, for short). This new service helps ensure that visitor communication with .gov websites is not modified or compromised, and hostile networks cannot inject malware, tracking beacons, or otherwise monitor or change visitor interactions online. As part of this new service, any federal government executive branch .

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To Get Things Done, You Need Great, Secure Tools

To folks new to government, one of the most surprising differences between our work and work in the private sector are the barriers in accessing commercially available software, and commercially available Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) in particular. There are good reasons for these barriers: the government places premiums on considerations such as security, privacy, accessibility, license management, and competition. It takes great care to work within those considerations while also providing digital teams with great tools to get work done.

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Automatic HTTPS Enforcement for New Executive Branch .Gov Domains

HTTPS is a necessary baseline for security on the modern web. Non-secure HTTP connections lack integrity protection, and can be used to attack citizens, foreign nationals, and government staff. HTTPS provides increased confidentiality, authenticity, and integrity that mitigate these attacks. In June 2015, the White House required all new federal web services to support and enforce HTTPS connections over the public internet, and for agencies to migrate existing web services to HTTPS by the end of calendar year 2016.

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DigitalGov University in Review: 2016 Training Trends

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.

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The Future of Technology at GSA

Our work can transform government The potential to transform government and impact the lives of Americans is tremendous. Our country needs the government to work well, and technology is the key to that. TECHNOLOGY IS NOT PARTISAN “If it’s important, it’s important for all administrations,” said GSA Technology Transformation Service Commissioner Rob Cook. GSA Admin @DeniseUSGSA on the future of technology in the federal government. #GSATech #InnovateGov pic.

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Health IT Services SIN — Ready to Serve Agencies

This summer I announced the the release of our new Health IT Services Special Item Number (SIN 132–56) on IT Schedule 70. Now, I am happy to report that the SIN has been awarded to 65 highly qualified industry partners — with that number continuing to grow daily as new contracts are being awarded. With such a robust supplier offering, the SIN is now very much ready to serve agencies’ health IT services requirements.

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Laying the Foundation for a More Secure, Modern Government

Summary: Building on efforts to boost Federal cybersecurity & as part of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, today we’re releasing a proposed guidance to modernize Federal IT. America’s spirit of ingenuity and entrepreneurship created the world’s most innovative economy and keeps us dominant in today’s digital age. Indeed, in 1985 about 2,000 people used the Internet; today, 3.2 billion people do. What started out as a useful tool for a few is now a necessity for all of us—as essential for connecting people, goods, and services as the airplane or automobile.

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Analytics Success Series: USA.gov

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.

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The Data Briefing: Twenty Years of USAJOBS

I recently sat down with Michelle Earley, Program Manager, to discuss the new changes for the 20th anniversary of USAJOBS. 1) What are the three big lessons learned from 20 years of building and managing USAJOBS? I think one of the greatest benefits of being an Agile program is that we are constantly learning. In 2013, our team implemented the first phase of the data warehouse which provided agencies with data that could be leveraged to improve recruiting efforts.

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Transforming the Federal Marketplace, Two Years In

Summary: It’s been two years since we laid out the Administration’s plan to transform the Federal marketplace. Here’s a look at what we’ve accomplished, and what’s next. Over the last two years, we’ve focused on our mission to implement the President’s vision for a modern government– one that leverages private-sector best practices to achieve a Federal Government that is smarter, savvier and more effective in delivering for the American people.

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CX Day In Government: How We All Shape The Customer Journey

During National Customer Service Week, it’s a great time for organizations across industry and government to celebrate putting customers at the center of our work and to think about what we can do to improve our customers’ end-to-end experiences. When you think this big, it can be a little daunting, but the good news is that we’re doing a lot, and a simple shift in mindset can get us much further.

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Near… FAR… Wherever you are….

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) made history today by releasing the first ever iBook version of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). And while a tome about the complex rules governing the federal government’s purchasing process may not sound like a bestseller, the FAR is essential reading not just for federal contracting officers and federal contractors, but owners of small (and large) businesses, too. “Basically, anyone who does or wants to conduct business with the government reads the FAR,” said Dan Briest, Program Manager of Acquisition.

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Vendors and Government Strengthen Partnership at Technology Industry Day

On September 8th, the General Services Administration (GSA) held a Technology Industry Day to talk to industry leaders about the products and solutions developed by our agency and to hear feedback on how we can better engage industry. We’re thrilled that more than 300 members of the technology industry in person and via the live stream were able to join us for this first step towards a closer partnership and more open lines of communication about how we can work together to transform federal technology.

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The New Vote.gov: Leaner, Faster and Multi-Lingual

One year ago this week, we launched vote.gov (also known as vote.usa.gov). It’s a concise and simple site with a single mission: direct citizens through the voter registration process as quickly as possible. It was created by a joint team of USA.gov staffers and Presidential Innovation Fellows, all of whom work within the General Services Administration (GSA). Did it work? Yes. In fact, it worked so well that Facebook made it the destination for their 2016 voter registration drive.

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Webinar Recap: Snaps and Stripes—Sharing Public Service Stories with Snapchat

What does Snapchat, the disappearing message-and-video platform most used by teenagers, have to do with government outreach and communications programs? Well, Snapchat has quickly become an incredibly effective digital storytelling medium, and content creators across multiple government agencies have adopted it as an important part of their programs. A recent New York Times article described how nearly 35 million users in the United States watched highlights and stories from the Summer Olympics on Snapchat.

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GSA Hosts First-Ever Technology Industry Day in Washington, D.C.

Private industry and government came together to find best ways to deliver 21st century technology to federal agencies. On September 8, 2016 Administrator Denise Turner Roth of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) hosted the first-ever Technology Industry Day to provide a better understanding of GSA’s path to improve the government’s outdated technology systems. The event featured how GSA buys, builds and shares technology for the federal government. “The General Services Administration has a long history of being a strong leader in adopting technology in government,” said Administrator Roth when giving her opening remarks at GSA’s Technology Industry Day.

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Agency Mobile Resources at the Ready Following OMB Memo

Note: This is a guest blog post by Amando E. Gavino, Jr., Director, Office of Network Services, ITS/FAS/GSA. He is responsible for a portfolio of telecommunication acquisition solutions that provide government agencies the ability to meet their diverse set of telecommunication requirements. Acquisition solutions include Networx, Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions – EIS (the future replacement for Networx), SATCOM, Enterprise Mobility, Connections II, Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative – Wireless (FSSI-W), and the Federal Relay Service.

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How We’re Using Data to Help Us Make Better Decisions

This week marks a special anniversary for GSA as we celebrate our Data-to-Decision (D2D) platform since its launch in the fall of 2015. D2D is GSA’s data management platform that collects, manages, and analyzes complex data to enable data-driven decision-making. Over the past year, GSA has made major strides forward in understanding how accurate and insightful data can help us be a more data-driven organization. I am proud to say that D2D now has more than 1,000 users and over 100 published dashboards across GSA!

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Sign up for the Technology Industry Day

The General Services Administration (GSA) is known for managing federal real estate and leveraging the government’s buying power to get the best deal for taxpayers, but it also drives and leads technology and innovation within the federal government. The Technology Transformation Service (TTS) builds, buys and shares tech to help federal agencies achieve their mission. They create better services for citizens everyday. TTS works closely with the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) and the GSA CIO to be first movers in and apply agile technology in a meaningful way.

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Making Modernizations and Migrations Successful

Summary: Today, we’re launching the M3 Framework to provide agencies with leading best practices for mission-support function modernizations and migrations. The government’s internal operations have a powerful impact on service to its citizens, and this Administration has made transformation of management practices within the Federal Government a key priority. By sharing and streamlining mission support services and retiring or modernizing inefficient legacy IT systems, we’re better able to overcome the challenges of large-scale mission support projects, support core agency missions, and make our IT infrastructure more secure – all while achieving a more efficient, secure, and effective government for the American people.

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Another Year, Another Leap Forward for Prize Competitions

If federal agencies need an incentive to be more open and innovative in addressing critical issues, they need look no further than news this week from the White House. On August 10, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy issued its Implementation of Federal Prize Authority Progress Report for fiscal year 2015, and it’s chock-full of examples of how agencies have advanced their missions through crowdsourcing and open competition.

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That Six-Letter Word: Change

One of the biggest challenges in implementing a new technology or process is change. Change creates a multitude of feelings; for some it is apprehension and uncertainty, while for others it is excitement and acceptance. Change management is defined as “a systematic approach to dealing with change, both from the perspective of an organization and the individual.” Creating a Culture of Change Change agents are people willing to push for enhancement.

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Enhancing our Nation’s Cybersecurity

The mission of U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)’s Integrated Technology Services (ITS) is to deliver best value technology solutions to the government and the American people, and one of the most critically important capabilities that our nation currently needs is strengthened cybersecurity. We have been working with numerous other federal agencies to ensure that the government has the tools and know-how it needs to protect our systems, data, and information.

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White House: Challenges, Citizen Science Among Top Innovation Efforts of Past 8 Years

The White House this week released a report detailing the impact of 100 initiatives that have expanded U.S. capacity in science, technology and innovation over the past eight years. Evident throughout the report is the influence of Challenge.gov and CitizenScience.gov, two open innovation programs managed by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). In fact, among the top 15 examples in the report are the increased use of prize competitions and expanded opportunities for citizen science and crowdsourcing, both areas where GSA is helping to lead the charge.

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Using Plain Language to Bridge the Gap Between Government and Industry

Much of our work with government partners to deliver better digital services has resulted in full websites, applications, and embarking on large-scale transformation efforts. In addition to those types of projects, we also work on shorter, faster, smaller-scale projects designed to show our partners different points of view and different techniques to approach their most challenging problems. Recently, we partnered with the Office of Integrated Technology Services (ITS) here within the General Services Administration (GSA) on a four-month effort to develop a plain language guide, informed by research and interviews, to help technology companies interested in doing business with the federal government better understand how to join IT Schedule 70.

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Data: the Key to a More Transparent, Open Government

The work of the federal government is incredibly diverse, and affects almost every aspect of American life, whether it is keeping planes in the air or ensuring that our food is safe. Every public service the government provides requires many different skill sets, but the one thing that unites them all is a consistent requirement for transparency. Transparency enables the federal government to demonstrate to the American people how their tax dollars are being used.

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Open Data Democratizes Innovation

Americans Use Public Data to Improve the Lives of Fellow Citizens Data is one of our most important national assets. It informs our policy and our national priorities. But as we have seen time and time again, the most effective way to govern is to engage with the public directly. Thanks to the President’s Executive Order requiring that agencies make data open, we are democratizing access to data.

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GSA Introduces New Web-Based Leasing Tool

Recently, Regional Administrator Sara Manzano-Díaz of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) introduced a web-based leasing tool, the Automated Advanced Acquisition Program (AAAP), to 60 lessors and/or brokers at the Dow Building in Philadelphia. The AAAP tool was designed to consolidate and streamline the leasing process, making for a more efficient, transparent process that also gets the best deal for the American taxpayer. Ms. Manzano-Diaz said that the AAAP will transform how the GSA Mid-Atlantic Region conducts its leasing by transitioning the system to an electronic platform that will serve as the primary procurement vehicle for GSA to acquire office space.

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DigitalGov Podcast: Behind the Scenes of the Social and Behavioral Science Team

Enrolling veterans in retirement plans. Helping small farmers access credit. Surveying employees about their workspace. These projects might seem widely different from one another: they span different agencies and diverse audiences. But all three projects have been addressed by a new team in government that is helping agencies build things better, based on behavioral science. The Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST) uses theories, research, and methods from the social and behavioral sciences to address and solve challenges faced by the public.

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18F Reflects on Their Most Meaningful Projects in 2015

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.

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Challenges, Crowdsourcing, Citizen Science: What’s the Dif?

There’s more than one way to harness the wisdom of the crowd. In honor of December’s monthly theme, we’re diving into and defining the various ways that federal agencies use public contributions to meet real needs and fulfill important objectives. Crowdsourcing Two’s company, three’s a crowd—and getting input from many is crowdsourcing. A White House blog post defined crowdsourcing as “a process in which individuals or organizations submit an open call for voluntary contributions from a large group of unknown individuals (“the crowd”) or, in some cases, a bounded group of trusted individuals or experts.

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The Data Briefing: Create an App for Employees with Disabilities

Have you worked with an employee with a disability? Are you an employee with a disability? Then, you know the unique challenges of the average workplace that able-bodied colleagues may never experience. Workplace challenges could be overcome with accommodations such as larger computer monitor displays, wheelchair-accessible office furniture or a voice reader. In some cases, a mobile app is a solution to a workplace challenge. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

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USA.Gov Launches vote.USA.gov to Help Citizens Register and Connect with States

One of the most important rights of American citizens is the right to vote. It is the foundation of our democracy, and in many ways, the basis of our government. This is why the team at USA.gov is excited to announce the launch of vote.USA.gov. USA.gov is an interagency initiative administered by the Federal Citizen Information Center, a division of the U.S. General Services Administration’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies.

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Community Rock Star Round Up

Around this month’s Communities Theme, the DigitalGov team thought we’d round up your community rock stars. These are people in your communities who’ve gone above and beyond, who’ve contributed content, organized events, participated in developing toolkits and more. Let’s kick it off with the DigitalGov Summit Sounding Board. DigitalGov Summit Sounding Board For the 2015 DigitalGov Summit we pulled together innovators from across the federal government to guide the programming, promote the CrowdHall (and Summit overall) and help identify speakers.

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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!

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How Agencies “Pin” Down Their Audiences

While Facebook and Twitter are the most popular social media platforms (according to some rankings), your agency can and should evaluate the benefits of platforms like Pinterest, which have seen major growth in users and activity. In the last six months of 2014, Pinterest increased its membership by 57%, while Facebook and Twitter only grew by 6% and 18%, respectively. More than 60% of millennial moms use Pinterest, making it a platform perfect for agencies looking to communicate topics related to children and women’s health; DigitalGov previously discussed how the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Women’s Health used Pinterest as part of an inter-agency health campaign.

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Using Section 508 Guidance to Improve the Accessibility of Government Services

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires federal agencies to use accessible information and communication technology (ICT), whether procured, developed, or maintained. Since the U.S. Access Board issued regulations for the law in 2000, much implementation guidance has been prepared by various agencies. While the regulations are being refreshed to account for changes in ICT over the years, we can take advantage of existing guidance that applies accessibility guidelines in contemporary contexts.

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Taking the Pulse of the Federal Government’s Web Presence

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.

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5 Crucial Steps for Conducting an Effective Customer Interview

When focusing on customer experience, we all know that we need to truly understand our customer if we expect to provide them with an enjoyable experience. In an effort to do so, organizations often jump right to a survey to identify their customers’ needs and wants. While surveys are a great first step to understanding customers, they’re not the only step. The most you should expect from a well-crafted survey is detailed knowledge in the form of hard data indicating where to conduct further research.

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DigitalGov Summit: Live From the Comfort of Your Desk

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.

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Government Services Through a Life Events Approach

The federal government is increasingly focused on designing and delivering citizen-centered services with enhanced experiences that deliver value to customers. These ideals are established in the Presidential Management Agenda Customer Service Cross-Agency Priority Goal, the Digital Government Strategy, and various open government activities. Designing services to be responsive to be life events that drive public needs is a powerful way to deliver citizen-centered value. What is a “life event?” Life events are events that have a significant impact in a citizen’s/stakeholder’s life and that warrant government awareness or involvement.

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Lessons Learned from 4 Decades in Federal Contact Centers

For more than 40 years, Warren Snaider has been working at the General Services Administration providing government information to the public. A Senior Federal Information Specialist, Snaider has witnessed government contact centers evolve as technology has changed the way people communicate and access information. Snaider first joined the Federal Information Center in Sacramento in 1972. His was one of 41 centers across the United States where people could walk into the lobby of a federal building and ask questions.

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Government Contact Center Round Up

The Government Contact Center Council (G3C), led by GSA’s Tonya Beres, has been working with DigitalGov University to host events for the contact center community across the federal government. This year they hosted events and posted articles that will help you get a contact center up and running, make up-to-date changes to meet 21st century expectations, and incorporate new features like adaptive content, chat, and handling social media inquiries.

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US, Canada, and Mexico Collaborate to Improve Open Government and Digital Services

Many forces are converging to strengthen the political, economic and commercial ties that bind the United States, Canada and Mexico. The GSA Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT) has anticipated this drive toward collaboration for decades, building a network of links among the three nations’ Chief Information Officers and other national technology and data experts. Annual OCSIT-sponsored North American Day (NAD) talks have contributed to improved digital services in all three countries.

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The New FedRAMP.gov Is Here

On Wednesday, March 11, FedRAMP unveiled a redesigned FedRAMP.gov. The new site focuses on user experience that fosters a better understanding of FedRAMP from basic knowledge, to in-depth program requirements and includes the launch of a training program. User experience is at the heart of the website redesign. Using feedback from customer interviews, the new FedRAMP.gov is easily navigable and helps visitors: Understand FedRAMP and its strategic direction Quickly find current templates and other key documents Access educational opportunities and information on FedRAMP events The FedRAMP team addressed these objectives and many others developing the website.

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Enabling Trusted Digital Interactions Between People & Government

Today, people rely heavily on insecure and inefficient means to access federal government applications to conduct business (i.e., they depend on usernames and passwords to log into federal agency services online). Users are required to create and manage several online accounts for different applications, which can become a nuisance, difficult to manage, and creates administrative burden for the organization. Additionally, with the abundance of these weak credentials (i.e., usernames and passwords that are easy to hack and difficult to trust), organizations – including the federal government – are left with minimal confidence in a user’s identity.

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Avoid Weak ‘Links’ in Your Digital Chain

Users don’t like surprises. Unexpected or unwanted content undermines the credibility of your agency and frustrates users who come to your website looking for specific information. Using links appropriately in your website content is one way to build trust with users, according to an article by Kara Pernice of the Nielsen Norman Group. Here’s a real life example: If the link above led to an article about 3D printing, you’d probably be pretty annoyed right now.

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Top 10 Things (We Think) You Don’t Know about DigitalGov

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”?

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8 New Federal-Friendly Apps and Services

Tackling technology tasks just got easier. Recently, federal agencies negotiated eight new Terms of Service (TOS) Agreements for free apps and services. DigitalGov has an extensive list of federal-friendly TOS agreements for free products, and the list is updated as new TOS agreements are created. Cyfe Cyfe, a business dashboard app, helps users monitor diverse data streams in one location. It displays information related to social media, analytics, marketing, sales, support, and infrastructure tools.

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Institutionalizing User Experience: Building Usability into Your Organization

So, you have some systems or tools your customers or employees access. Maybe you want to put together a robust capability to conduct usability testing. How do you start formalizing user experience (UX) into your organization? Brad Ludlow at GSA tossed this topic out on the User Experience community listserv, and I’ve encapsulated the superb discussion that followed below. Here, then, are four easy steps to building User Experience into your office:

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How to Run an Agile Project in Government

For a seminar organized by DigitalGov University, Robert Read, the Managing Director at 18F, gave a presentation on agile methodologies in the federal government. Risk mitigation is a big advantage of using the agile methodology. The methodology deals with risk through the use of multiple iterations or “sprints” that ultimately lead to the development of a better product. “Sprints” involve the release of software that is functional and will allow for testing.

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Personas 101

Personas are a tool organizations can use to learn more about their users. They are used to learn as much as you can about end users in order to better the product or service you provide. If you are able to think as a user during the design and development of a product or service, this will help greatly in creating something that satiates the users’ needs. Personas are descriptions that give you an understanding of your users and how they use your product or service.

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2nd U.S. Public Participation Playbook Draft Responds to Public Contributions

The new second draft of the U.S. Public Participation Playbook incorporates changes that were proposed from nearly 100 suggestions submitted after the first week of public comment, with more improvements to come. We still need your contributions for this groundbreaking new collaborative resource to measurably improve our participatory public services across government, and would like to take this opportunity to share what we have learned so far.

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Strategy Pivot Yields Results: DigitalGov.Gov Six Months Later

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.

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Solving a MobileGov Mystery: Using Open Source CMS to Implement Responsive Web Design

Responsive Web design is widely-known as a go-to solution for designing a website to fit on any device’s screen size. As we found in our February workshop, federal agencies are implementing it for various reasons. There are various ways to implement responsive design. Some agencies have implemented it via structured data and content modeling and others have completely redesigned their website. Agencies who are not yet at that point are looking for ways they can begin.

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What Structured Content Can Do For You: Webinar Recap

Structured content and open content models can help you create content that is platform-agnostic, format-free, and device-independent. This was the theme of the “What Structured Content Can Do For You: Article Model” webinar last month. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kG25vyQ5Jps&w=600] Using a content model is less about how you are crafting your message and more about how the internet is going to react to your content or how you can manipulate it, according to Holly Irving from the National Institutes of Health, Russell O’Neill from the General Services Administration, and Logan Powell from U.

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How to Make a Mobile Paper Prototype

What if a single piece of paper could make your mobile app work 20% better? It’s hard to imagine something as unimpressive as paper influencing our 21st century smartphones, but it’s true. Well before we get into the design and coding phases, we can show customers a mockup of an idea of what our product might look like. It’s called a prototype (or a wireframe)—it’s a model of a design that’s still in development.

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Government Open and Structured Content Models Are Here!

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.

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Ten Earth Day Activities in Digital Government

On this Earth Day, federal social media managers are hard at work, sharing and promoting what government and citizens can do to protect the environment. We’ve compiled a sample of the activities that also show how different agencies are using different social media tools in support of a common goal. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been leading the way all month, hosting Twitter chats every Tuesday at 2pm EDT, with the hashtag #ActOnClimate.

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GSA Acquisition Portal – Usability Case Study

Incorporating usability testing throughout the entire design process, especially before launch, allows you catch glitches and/or make design changes prior to anyone seeing it live. When more than minor adjustments need to be made to your site, it’s much better to have completed them before the public sees it. For Christina Mullins, a Contracting Officer at the Public Building Service in the General Services Administration (GSA)’s Region 3 based in Philadelphia, usability testing was a new frontier, and one that quickly proved valuable.

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Announcing FBOpen: Government Opportunities Made Easier

Today we’re announcing our first product launch: FBOpen, a set of open-source tools to help small businesses search for opportunities to work with the U.S. government. On the surface, FBOpen is a website: fbopen.gsa.gov is a simple, Google-style page where you can search available federal contracts and grants. We’ve used the latest in search technology to make finding opportunities easier and more effective for everybody. FBOpen is more than a search website, however.

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Double Digit Crowdsourcing Competitions Launch in February

This is a phenomenal month for federal challenge and prize competitions with 12 new programs launched in February. The challenge.gov platform usually averages four to six new challenges a month, so we’re excited to see the year start off with a big push to engage citizens in creative problem solving. Take a look and see what these agencies are doing to drive innovation: White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

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Responsive Web Design Workshop: Why, How and What’s Next?

Responsive web design has been a beacon of light in the darkness of mobile strategy for many federal agencies. Many agencies have implemented it and many others are exploring this approach to Mobile Gov. There are still many other questions about responsive web design and it’s time to provide some illumination. Next Thursday, February 6, we are providing an opportunity for agencies to talk about these questions. At our Responsive Web Design Workshop: Why, How and What’s Next?

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Usability testers unite! Join our Community

I’m the kind of guy who loves tests. Not SATs, or BMI tests, but usability tests: connecting target customers with a government website and watching how they interact with it. Our DigitalGov User Experience Program (formerly known as First Fridays)has taught dozens of agencies how to conduct these vital tests, and we even created a monthly group to talk about how to run these tests, and make them better. We call it the User Experience Community, and all federal employees who are interested in usability testing are welcome to join.

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GSA’s eBuy Mobile

The General Services Administration has made a mobile version of its eBuy website. The mobile site provides ease of access to small businesses and customers to keep an eye on new bidding opportunities and other information associated with their contract(s) while on the go. One of the features of the mobile site is that it provides push notifications via SMS messages that will alert the users/contractors based on: Award/No Award eBuy Outage – RFQ/RFI Extension Notices New Request for Quote (RFQ)/Request for Information Modified RFQ/RFI Cancelled RFQ/RFI Received Quote To receive these notifications, contractors must register their cell phone number here.

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SocialGov Summit Diagnoses Viral Gov

The social media landscape changes every day, and viral content heralds trends to come. Government must learn to adapt in order to deliver more effective and efficient services for citizens. At this SocialGov Summit we explored the world of Viral Government and continue our efforts to bring the most advanced capabilities and strategies to agencies’ missions. Take a look at the presentation from TSA’s blogger Bob on how they respond to viral content and make their content interesting and learn how you can do the same.

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Kicking Off Our Customer Experience Program

The vision for my office, the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT) at GSA, is simple: Deliver a world-class experience to the public when accessing government information and services – anytime, anywhere – through the delivery channel they choose. We create and leverage products, services and approaches federal agencies can easily adopt that will enhance their ability to innovate, deliver services, engage the public, and save valuable resources.

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Instagram Now Available for Federal Agencies

Instagram is the latest mobile and social media tool available to federal, state and local governments to better engage with the public, with a newly negotiated government-compatible Terms of Service (TOS) agreement. GSA collaborated with Instagram to negotiate the amended terms, which brings the total number of tools with federal-compatible agreements to 65. Instagram is a free online photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking service that allows its users to take pictures and videos, apply digital filters to them, and share them on a variety of social networking services, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr.

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5 Steps for Delivering a Better Customer Experience

Everyone wants to know how to provide outstanding customer experience in government. It can be difficult, because everyday our customers are also doing business with companies like Starbucks, Zappos, and Virgin America, that excel in customer service. Those experiences drive high expectations for interacting with any organization, including government agencies. Customer experience–referred to in the industry as “CX”–is more than just a product. It’s about the perception your customer has every time they interact with your office, your agency or any product within your organization.

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How to Do Usability Testing with Kids

What do kids know about Web design? As we found out, quite a lot. Recently our DigitalGov User Experience Program teamed up with the Kids.gov team to get some big time feedback from some pint-sized testers in a hallway test. We tested with almost 20 kids ages 6 to 14 at our GSA office, made possible by “Take Your Child to Work Day.” We also tweeted some results under the hashtag #kidsgovtest

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Resources and Tools for APIs

Hosted API Tools Labs.Data.gov is a repository of shared services to prototype and provide developer resources to government agencies. Each tool uses Web services and lightweight, open source code to provide powerful functionality. Agencies are encouraged to improve any project and submit pull requests in order to share the improvements with others. API Standards Template With the open source release of the White House’s API Standards template, agencies have a complete model for API design and best practices that includes the best practices and agreed–upon norms of the developer community.

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GSA FAS QR Code

_Mobile Gov Experiences are agency stories about creating anytime, anywhere, any device government services and info. This entry is a story shared by GSA.__ _ The General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service Customer Accounts and Research (CAR) Office created a QR codes presentation for the 2011 GSA Expo to teach government attendees about the benefits of using QR codes to interact with their customers. Why We Did It GSA FAS CAR Office developed the QR codes presentation to show how government agencies can use technology to engage the customer in new ways.

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Mobile Gov Resources for 2013!

With mobile use growing exponentially and federal agencies implementing customer-facing mobile services for the Digital Government Strategy, we decided to put together a Mobile Gov resource “cheat sheet” with concepts and information we think will be helpful for agencies implementing Mobile Gov in 2013. Here’s what Mobile Gov implementers need to know! APIs Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have been called the “secret sauce” for digital services. They help open information (content and data) so it can be reused inside and outside of government.

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SAM.gov – Usability Case Study

One of the most vital parts of any website is its starting point. When a visitor arrives on the main page of your site, they should be able to quickly tell what the main tasks are and how to perform them. Visual cues and plain language are the best ways to accomplish this. The SAM.gov site was created to consolidate several acquisition and bidding systems in one central location. It’s a large site, and with so many potential tasks available, it’s important that visitors are able to quickly figure out where they need to go.

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Case Study: How GSA Launched Social Media Registry

In September, the General Services Administration (GSA) launched a registry of all federally-managed social media accounts. We want to explain a little of the history behind the registry and talk about a few things that make it a truly remarkable innovation from GSA. Before I start, I want to emphasize when I say “we” from here on, I’m referring to the entire team at GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT) that made this happen.

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GSA’s Child Care Information Portal

_ Mobile Gov Experiences are agency stories about creating anytime, anywhere, any device government services and info. This entry is a story shared by the General Services Administration._ The Child Care Information Portal is a responsively designed web site built by General Services Administration’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer, accessible on computers, smartphones and tablets. Why We Did It We decided to create a responsive design site for this project, for three reasons:

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GSA Intranet (Insite) – Usability Case Study

Not all usability changes are dramatic. Sometimes a few small tweaks can make a site significantly easier to navigate, or make important but hidden content pop off the page. The DigitalGov User Experience Program helped test Insite, GSA’s intranet, on September 21, 2011. GSA took the feedback from their usability test and made some changes to the existing design. While seemingly small, the changes made a huge difference in the usability of the site for GSA employees.

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FedRAMP – Usability Case Study

Websites allow newer government programs to establish a visual identity that introduces them to users and conveys the importance of their work. On April 18, 2012, the DigitalGov User Experience Program helped test GSA’s Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) site, which at that point was less than six months old. Three immediate needs were identified. Problem 1: Purpose of Program Not Clear The homepage text was filled with jargon and acronyms, and provided no clear guidance for the user to understand why they should engage with FedRAMP.

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Agency Digital Strategy Pages

In his May 23rd, 2012 Presidential Memorandum, President Obama directed Executive Departments and Agencies to: Implement the requirements of the Digital Government Strategy, and Create a page at www.[agency].gov/digitalstrategy to publicly report progress of this implementation. Consistent with Milestone Actions #2.1 (open data) and #7.1 (mobile optimization), agencies will post candidate data sets and services to open up over the next several months on these pages.

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Agile “Sprinting” to Digital Governance Recommendations

To help agencies produce better decision-making across the organization about how to best spend resources on digital services and manage their data, the Digital Government Strategy tasked the Digital Services Advisory Group with “recommending guidelines on agency-wide governance structure for developing and delivering digital services and managing data.” A clear governance structure helps with digital service efficiency and quality of service. Agencies can use the digital services governance recommendations to “establish an agency-wide governance structure for developing and delivering digital services” by November 23.

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National Contact Center’s Text Message Program

Mobile Gov Experiences are agency stories about creating anytime, anywhere, any device government services and info. This entry is a story shared by GSA’s Office of Citizen Services & Innovative Technologies, Contact Center Services Division. The National Contact Center’s Text Message Program The Contact Center Services Division, within GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, manages the National Contact Center. The NCC exists to answer the public’s questions about all federal programs and services, by getting people to the information they need.

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USA.gov Mobile Apps Gallery

In April 2012, the U.S. General Services Administration launched a “full stack” responsive redesign of the federal mobile apps galleries: apps.USA.gov and apps.GobiernoUSA.gov. The full stack includes both a REST API and a complete redesign of the site using responsive design techniques. Responsive web design allows the content on a website to respond to the screen size and device it is being viewed on. So, while the app galleries are rendered one way on desktop browsers, the same website adapts and rearranges content when viewed on a tablet or smartphone.

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Making Mobile Gov Project

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.

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