7.1 GSA's Public Engagement Initiatives
Federal Advisory Committee Act. Our Federal Advisory Committee Act website makes it easier for the public to understand FACA activities. The website provides easy access to highly requested information from the FACA database, and makes it easy to find and understand how to participate in Federal advisory committee meetings across the government. We present the past 10 years of data on the current FACA database on GSA.gov and on Data.gov. Federal agencies use the database to manage an average of 1,000 governmentwide advisory committees. Congress also uses the database to perform oversight of related executive branch programs. The public, the media and others use the website to stay abreast of important developments resulting from advisory committee activities. Although centrally supported by GSA, the database represents a true "shared system," wherein each participating agency and individual committee manager has responsibility for providing accurate and timely information. The new database provides a wide array of users with access to data required by FACA. Visit the FACA Website to learn more.
Challenge.gov. In September 2009, when the president unveiled his strategy for American innovation, he called on government to “use prizes and challenges to solve tough problems, support the broad adoption of community solutions that work, and form high-impact collaborations with researchers, the private sector and civil society.” Challenge.gov is a free governmentwide platform that facilitates innovation through challenges and prizes. The website allows public access to all Federal Government challenge opportunities in one place; stores the information in easy, creative ways; and offers notifications of new challenges. Challenge.gov opens up opportunities for universities, companies, nonprofits and individuals to contribute their creative ideas to solve the government’s most complex challenges. Agencies and society benefit from multiple teams or individuals competing and submitting their best ideas and solutions because it leverages the creativity of those outside of government and Washington. Launched to the public in September 2010, Challenge.gov debuted with more than 35 unique challenges from more than 15 departments and agencies. Within the first year, 130 challenges were posted, 36 Federal agencies participated, and agencies awarded more than $38 million in prize money. Challenge.gov saves agencies considerable time and money by providing a platform that already complies with Federal requirements, including privacy, security, the Paperwork Reduction Act and access for people with disabilities. We expect to host 150 challenges in FY '12. If agencies were to buy similar challenge hosting service from outside vendors, they would spend an estimated $15 million. Challenges can cost from $50,000 to $150,000 each, on average. Challenge.gov has been visited more than a million times by people from 194 countries and territories – nearly every country around the globe. In the United States, the 583,000 visits came from more than 10,000 cities, reflecting broad interest and demonstrating our commitment to tap into the creativity of those outside government. Challenge.gov is truly demonstrating the government’s ability to reach far outside Washington for innovative ideas. Visit Challenge.gov to learn more.
Better Buy Project Pilots Wiki. GSA is engaging in the BetterBuy Project, an online dialogue with the acquisitions community, to make government buying more open and collaborative. The wiki, proposed in an idea on this site, will gather and use input from the public outside the traditional acquisition community to improve the acquisition process. The Federal Systems Integration and Management Center has acted on ideas submitted by launching two acquisitions with the new BetterBuy pilot wiki. We call this a "pilot" because we are trying this out on several different requirements. GSA tested out the BetterBuy pilot using its Market Research and Requirements Definition. Three phases have been implemented. The first phase was Data.gov. GSA sought input on a requirement to provide a data repository for Data.gov. The Data.gov pilot launched on March 25, 2010 and closed on April 12, 2010. Similarly, a second phase was the ClearPath and GSA email pilots which have opened and closed on the wiki.
During the second phase of the BetterBuy pilots, called "Clearpath," we sought input on the technical infrastructure for hosting it and are developing the approach for future acquisition. GSA also solicited industry input into the acquisition planning process during a third phase, called “Enterprise Email and Collaboration Services.” This phase allowed vendors to discuss the pros and cons of different contractual strategies. Another wiki test kicked off in FY '11. This was for the applications our Assisted Acquisition Service Business Systems uses to support the Federal Government. The point of these wiki exercises was to test how GSA could use collaboration and social media to make the Federal acquisition process more efficient and effective. As a separate activity, GSA also piloted the use of Twitter for status updates on procurement activity. To date, GSA has received positive feedback from industry on the approach. Visit the Better Buy Project to learn more and submit comments.
Green Proving Ground.Our Green Proving Ground Program will harness the potential of innovative buildings technologies and practices that accelerate environmental efficiency in building operations. By evaluating and adopting new ideas and technologies, GSA will drive innovation in environmental performance across the agency’s portfolio and will help to lead market transformation. As part of the Green Proving Ground Program, We have issued a request for information and are creating a registry of technologies and practices. Commercial organizations, companies, educational institutions and nonprofit organizations can submit their innovative building technologies and ideas to be included in the registry. On a limited and carefully controlled basis, this program will test and evaluate innovative technologies and practices in selected GSA-owned buildings across the country. For more information, visit the GSA Green Proving Ground Program.