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U.S. Department Of Education

The Data Briefing: The Department of Education Needs Your Help with their First Developers’ Site

The Department of Education (ED) launched its first developer site. The developer site is built on GitHub which will make it easier for ED to centralize their code and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Currently, ten APIs are on the developer site: The Civil Right Data Collection (CRDC) APIs: These three APIs give information on public school enrollment in 2013–14, chronic absenteeism in 2013–14, and out-of-school suspension in 2013–14. The College Scorecard API: This is data from the College Scorecard project which allows student and families to “compare college costs and outcomes as they weigh the tradeoffs of different colleges, accounting for their own needs and educational goals.

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Federally Funded Research Results Are Becoming More Open and Accessible

Summary: Significant strides in improving public access to scholarly publications and digital data help usher in an era of open science. This week marks the 8th annual Open Access Week, when individuals and organizations around the world celebrate the value of opening up online access to the results of scholarly research. It is an opportune time to highlight the considerable progress that Federal departments and agencies have made increasing public access to the results of Federally-supported scientific research and advancing the broader notion of open science.

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My Data: Empowering All Americans with Personal Data Access

Summary: Consumers empowered with their own data are in the driver’s seat to make informed choices. In the 21st century economy, Americans rely on online services to access personal bank accounts, pay bills, and shop online, so why don’t we have similar interactions with Federal government through easy-to-use, online tools? The answer is we can—and increasingly we are—as we continue to build a 21st century government. Since first taking office, President Obama has been committed to building a more open and transparent government while, at the same time, protecting consumers and empowering them to make informed choices for themselves and their families.

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Leveraging American Ingenuity through Reusable and Open Source Software

Summary: Today, we’re releasing for public comment a draft policy to support improved access to custom software code developed for the Federal Government. America has long been a nation of innovators. American scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs invented the microchip, created the Internet, invented the smartphone, started the revolution in biotechnology, and sent astronauts to the Moon. And America is just getting started. That is why since the start of this Administration, the President has taken concrete actions to support the spirit of innovation that makes America so strong.

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Using Code to Spur Innovation

This week, President Obama will travel to SxSW (South by Southwest) to talk about how we can use technology to tackle tough challenges. This underscores how important data—government data, in particular—is to improving and fueling our democracy forward. 2015 saw many open data milestones by agencies, including: New advancements in HHS’s syndication storefront New features to analytics.usa.gov dashboard (now with agency-specific dashboards USPTO’s PatentsView Education’s New College Scorecard FEMA’s new Data Visualization Tool APIs from FEC , Labor and NASA (to name a few) There is also more to come (and more that’s needed).

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Analytics.usa.gov: Now with Agency-Specific Dashboards

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?

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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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The Data Briefing: Air and Space Museum Launches New Mobile App into the Frontier of STEM Education

The Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum just released a new educational mobile app, Mobile Missions. From the website: “Find out if you are cut out for a career in aerospace with our free mobile app, Mobile Missions. Take our quiz to discover the best aerospace career for you. Explore objects from our collection related to your chosen profession. Answer challenge questions to receive in-app badges and rewards. Document your journey by inserting your selfie into a historical image related to your aerospace career and share with friends.

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USCIS Twitter Office Hours

On September 1, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) hosted our first Twitter Office Hours, a Twitter chat for USCIS customers. The purpose of this pilot event was to offer our customers a different way to engage with us. We aimed to leverage Twitter to answer questions on our agency’s programs and policies and to counter rumors and incorrect information that exist in the public sphere. We were inspired to launch this event after hearing about the popular Office Hours hosted by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) team at the Department of Education.

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Training Series Offers Marketing Tips for Prizes & Challenges

Marketing and public education is an essential part of any successful prize competition. The good news for federal agencies working with tight budgets is that both can be accomplished without breaking the bank. “We have found other ways than spending a lot of money,” said Denice Shaw, senior advisor to the Chief Innovation Officer at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Shaw joined two marketing experts from XPRIZE, October 20, for the latest webinar in the Expert Training Series: How to Design & Operate Prizes to Maximize Success, a seven-part educational forum on incentivized prize competitions.

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The Data Briefing: Highlights from 300 Federal Mobile Moments

DigitalGov’s theme this month is mobile moments, which explores the impact of mobile applications in the federal government. For this post, I am examining the more than 300 mobile apps created by the federal government. An updated list of federal mobile apps is on USA.gov. According to the list, 73 federal organizations have released mobile apps on a wide variety of topics. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has the most mobile apps with 31 releases.

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White House Kicks Off Challenge.gov Anniversary with Wealth of New Prize Competitions

In a call to action issued Oct. 7, the White House announced several new programs challenging citizens to help federal agencies solve problems in areas ranging from space exploration to education. Hosted in conjunction with Georgetown University, the Case Foundation and the Joyce Foundation, the event featured activities and discussions aimed at creating more ambitious and effective cross-sector prize competitions. Tom Kalil, deputy director for technology and innovation for White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), used the forum to issue a challenge of his own to the invite-only crowd, which consisted of prize experts from government, industry and academia.

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Under the Hood: Building a New College Scorecard with Students

Summary: How the U.S. Digital Service worked with students, families, schools, developers and teams across the federal government to rebuild the new College Scorecard tool. My niece is a smart kid. I’m biased, but I swear she is. And just as I started working on the College Scorecard project as the U.S. Digital Service’s new Chief Digital Service Officer at the Department of Education, I got a call from her—she was trying to decide where to go to school.

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FSA: Using a Data-Driven Marketing Campaign to Inform Your Audience

For millions of Americans, federal student loans have made it possible to get a college education. For many, moving forward after college can become an overwhelming challenge. In 2014, the Department of Education had 41 million borrowers and a loan portfolio of $1.1 trillion. The stat alone speaks to the issue of loan repayment and its magnitude in our country. To make the repayment process easier, the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) runs campaigns that are meant to inform borrowers about the repayment options available to them.

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Federal Student Aid Customer Experience Journey: A Recap

Customer Experience (CX) deserves a voice at an agency’s senior levels. Putting CX at the forefront of policy-making decisions will have the most positive impact for customers. Elevating CX is how the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) champions the 22 million applicants seeking $150 billion in education loans each year. Brenda Wensil, Chief Customer Experience Officer at FSA, shared her insights with DigitalGov University in a July 28, 2015, webinar about the establishment of the FSA CX Team.

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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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A February Focus on Content on DigitalGov

Good content drives your digital presence. No matter what you produce content for—social media, websites, blogs—getting people to see your work is critical. But getting noticed is not as easy as it used to be. A recent Vox article on the future of blogging talked about this problem: “The incentives of the social Web make it a threat to the conversational Web. The need to create content that ‘travels’ is at war with the fact that great work often needs to be rooted in a particular place and context—a place and context that the reader and the author already share.

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Building Brick by Brick: Ed.gov’s Website Redesign and Mobile Implementation

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither are website redesigns. In line with the piecemeal responsive Web design implementation trend we recently highlighted, the new Ed.gov website redesign happened in three phases. In this case, budget limitations and existing content management systems (CMSs) influenced the decision-making process. “We use three different CMSs,” said Jill James, Web director at the Department of Education. “We timed the phases of our redesigns with technical upgrades that we needed to do anyway.

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New Ed.gov Homepage and More

You may have noticed we launched our new Ed.gov homepage today. This completes the third and final phase of our visual refresh for our main website. We released the second phase of the refresh back in June. So, what’s new? Streamlined Homepage The new homepage takes our efforts to streamline navigation on the website one big step further. There are fewer links and more open space on the homepage.

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Big in SocialGov in 2014: Services, Access and Participation

Social media for public service is a diverse field that uses platforms and data from both the private and public sectors to improve citizen services, make them easier to access and deliver them more cost effectively. It is not just public affairs or communications, but spreads into customer service, resource development and more. Many of the best examples of social media in government can’t be seen on the surface of a tweet or post, but in how these collaborative, engaging strategies improve the processes of public services themselves.

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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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Institute of Education Sciences – Usability Case Study

After struggling with jargon-filled solicitations and a confusing website, some applicants were ready to give up on seeking grants from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Their complaints prompted a Plain Language makeover for the Institute’s funding materials. As the research arm of the U.S. Education Department, IES’s mission is to provide rigorous and relevant evidence on which to ground education practice and policy. Beginning in 2012, the project applied a Plain Language best practices to both their Funding Opportunities page and the grant solicitations themselves.

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Member Spotlight – Jill James, Dept. of Education

Welcome to the first edition of a new series of articles spotlighting members of our Government Web Manager Community. This month, we introduce Jill James, who’s the Senior Web Editor/Director for the Department of Education, in their Communications and Outreach Office. We asked Jill a few questions about her work at Dept. of Ed, as well as her life outside of work, and we’re happy for the chance to get to know her better!

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The API Briefing: Back to School – U.S. Department of Education APIs

As the new school season approaches, it is a good time to see what federal datasets are available for educational app developers. Visit the developers’ page at ED.gov to find 36 educational datasets for educational levels. The datasets can be accessed in CSV, JSON, XML, and API formats. What is especially helpful is a PDF document that explains the data and the methodology behind the data collection. This is useful information for app developers when they combine datasets.

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Customization is Key to Better Mobile User Experience

Resources like Theresa Neil’s Mobile Design Product Gallery book and Mobile-patterns.com describe, and provide examples of, common features mobile developers can implement and tailored further to satisfy their users. As mentioned in this week’s Trends on Tuesday, customizing apps to meet users’ needs is a crucial part in maximizing user experience. Today, we wanted to highlight how some agencies are implementing search, maps & geolocation and custom navigation to better their mobile product’s user experience.

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Should Your Agency Be Offering Chat Service?

Live Web chat is an important component of good customer service. People like having the option of talking with an agent in real-time without having to pick up the phone. While live chat is not widespread, several agencies have shown great success in serving the public through this alternative channel. At a recent Government Contact Center Council meeting, colleagues from HHS (cancer.gov), Education (StudentAid.gov), and GSA (USA.gov) shared their challenges and successes in implementing and managing Web chat.

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The Importance of Cross-Channel Customer Service—DigitalGov Summit Recap

During the DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit last Friday, customer service experts from across government came together on a panel to share what customer service means to them and their organization and specific ways they leverage it. The other panels were on performance analysis, public private partnerships, and inter-agency work. The panelists spoke about the strategies they use to integrate multi-channel customer service and the organizational barriers they’ve encountered. The panelists acknowledged that while the the government, as a whole, has room for improvement in providing truly integrated cross-channel customer service, leadership is beginning to recognize the importance and cost-savings, not to mention happy customers, it brings.

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This Weekend: Event List for Civic Hacking

Our fabulous colleague Jeanne Holm is ready for the #hackforchange events this weekend and summarized some tips, notes and links to resources on Data.gov. Great things will happen this weekend! Remember, if you hear about great uses of government data, let everyone know by tweeting #hackforchange or mention @usdatagov. The Data.gov team is organizing a webinar in a week, showcasing some of the best outcomes and hosting lightning talks by the developers and designers.

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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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Feature Your Consumer Tools on WhiteHouse.gov

The White House launched a hub for consumer-facing tools across the federal government, and they want to feature your agency’s tools that can help make people’s lives easier. As of now, they are featuring tools from these agencies: Department of Education’s College Scorecard Department of Energy’s Hybrid Car Calculator & Home Energy Yardstick Department of Agriculture’s Local Farmer’s Market Map Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Credit Card Agreement Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Litigation Resource Center Check out the tools and let them know about the tools that should be added.

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Why Go Responsive? Here’s What Feds Are Saying

Responsive Web design implementations in the federal government have members of the Mobile Gov Community of Practice asking what is responsive Web design and how do we do it? In February, the Mobile Gov Community of Practice hosted a workshop with more than 40 feds from 19 agencies to answer these questions. This article is the first in a series of articles and events to highlight what we learned at the workshop and explore related topics agencies need to consider when implementing this technology.

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Department of Education goes responsive (again) with FSA’s new Financial Aid Toolkit

Money for college? It’s never too early — or too late, for that matter — to start schooling oneself in the possibilities of federal financial aid. Following in the footsteps of their StudentAid.gov website, the digital team at Ed.gov’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) closed out 2013 with the launch of FinancialAidToolkit.ed.gov, a “sister” site featuring a flexible, easy-to-access responsive design. What StudentAid.ed.gov is to students, the new FinancialAidToolkit.ed.gov is to guidance counselors, “college access professionals,” nonprofit mentors, community organizations, volunteers and others.

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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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Innovation Means More, Better, Cost Effective Digital Training

A recent FedTech Magazine article asked, “When There Are No Barriers to Technology, How Can the Government Innovate?” We thought we’d take up the challenge and let you know how government uses innovations from digital communities to grow a social media education and training program that provides more opportunities than ever for agencies to share, learn and measurably improve our programs for citizens. And by more we mean almost four times more with the same resources.

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StudentAid.gov’s 1st Year: What We’ve Learned and Where We’re Going

Guest post by Brenda Wensil, Chief Customer Experience Officer for Federal Student Aid. Established in late 2010, FSA’s Customer Experience Office is responsible for identifying, measuring and reporting customer expectations and satisfaction with the financial aid services and products offered at Federal Student Aid. In my last post, I shared about last year’s launch of StudentAid.gov by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA). The new site consolidates and combines content and interactive tools from multiple web sites and features instructional videos and infographics to help answer frequent questions about federal financial aid.

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How the Department of Education Automated Publication of Press Releases

A case study on how the Department of Education used the Drupal content management system (CMS) to publish press releases as structured content to automatically generate listing pages and reduce errors and posting time. The Challenge The Department of Education was posting press releases using a system that posted them as static HTML files. The site design required press releases to be linked from several different pages, but the system was not designed to create those links automatically.

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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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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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