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Government Reaches Out to Citizens on Multiple New Media Channels

GSA  #10589

May 21, 2009
Contact, Tobi Edler, (202) 501-1231
tobi.edler@gsa.gov

WASHINGTON — The U.S. General Services Administration has launched the official U.S.Government YouTube Channel, updated its presence on Facebook and gained an audience of more than 4,000 followers on Twitter.

Answering President Obama's call to increase citizen participation in government, GSA has made it easier for federal agencies to use new media tools while meeting their legal requirements. To date, GSA has signed agreements with Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, Blist, Slideshare, AddThis and blip.tv, and is in discussions with many other providers that offer free new media services.

"Many government Web sites lack a dedicated budget,” said Martha Dorris, GSA’s Acting Associate Administrator of the Office of Citizen Services and Communication. “So the use of no-cost new media services is good for taxpayers. The use of new media helps attract the attention of audiences who choose to consume content in new ways and on new venues."

To invite the public to engage, USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov – and others in government – are joining online communities, including www.whitehouse.gov, where people can reach the White House. Using these new communication tools is an important attempt to provide the public with a level of access, participation, collaboration and transparency never seen before in government.

USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov use Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in English and Spanish to distribute timely official U.S. government information, distribute emergency information, announce official government events and observances, share official government photos and videos, and gather feedback from the public.

USA.gov is using new media to improve information dissemination to achieve its top tasks, for example encouraging people to call 1-800-FED-INFO if they have general questions about government services or getting feedback to cut down on the time it takes to complete a process.

“New media supports important business needs including, providing instructional videos, using photos that illustrate a topic and bring it to life, giving the public a bird’s eye view of activities or offering education on the services provided by the government,” said Dorris. “GSA’s Office of Citizen Services hopes to increase citizen interaction to get the feedback necessary to make government decisions.”

GSA launched the U.S.Government YouTube Channel with more than 200 videos from 25 agencies arranged in 12 playlists, including one in Spanish. Also, a video showcasing new media use across government was done by Macon Phillips, the White House New Media Director.

GSA will keep uploading additional videos as federal agencies share more content. USA.gov hosts an accessible video player so that visitors with disabilities can enjoy some of the government videos.

Examples of government videos include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s research on the ocean floors; public health videos on a variety of health and safety topics; audiovisual collections and lectures from the Library of Congress; and how-to videos showing veterans how to find out if they are eligible for benefits.

Government has long used multimedia for public outreach, education, and training to share government information, improve services, and achieve agency missions. Following the lead of the White House, GSA is encouraging the public to join the government– at their websites and blogs, through videos and photos, in social networks, through widgets, podcasts, and virtual worlds to view, comment, rate, participate, and share.
   

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