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Does it take too long to update and post digital content? Do you lack consistent branding across your website(s)? Is outdated, redundant content leading to a poor customer experience? Does your agency website show up too far down in search results? Are y -

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CMSDoes it take too long to update and post digital content? Do you lack consistent branding across your website(s)? Is outdated, redundant content leading to a poor customer experience? Does your agency website show up too far down in search results? Are you re-creating the same content for different platforms such as Web or mobile?

A content management system (CMS) can address these issues and significantly improve how your agency delivers and manages digital information—positively impacting your bottom line.

If implemented effectively, a CMS can deliver these results across your entire organization:

1. Increased Traffic and Customer Satisfaction

A CMS can help your agency produce more consistent, better content. High-quality content that’s updated frequently can draw more people to your website and increase engagement and customer satisfaction.

2. Faster Delivery of Content

Without a CMS, content updates are often done manually and require support from IT staff to post. Updates take too long or may not happen at all. A modern publishing system allows you to get new content and initiatives online faster, so you can see the benefits sooner.

3. Broader Content Distribution

A goal of the Digital Government Strategy and other open government policies is to make federal government information available anytime, anywhere, on any device. A CMS makes it easier and faster to deliver content via multiple platforms such as Web, social media, mobile devices and apps, and APIs. This increases your reach to new audiences and will help you meet the rising expectations of your customers.

4. Better Quality Control

A CMS enables individual authors across your organization to create content, but access to publish content is restricted to approved people or positions, providing centralized control of online communications across your entire organization.

5. More Searchable Content

A CMS makes it easier to tag content with keywords and other labels and cross-link to related content on your site. This improves search engine optimization, so your content appears higher on search engine results.

6. Increased Content Sharing

A CMS makes it easier to structure and tag content in a standardized way, which enables sharing and re-use of government information—both within and across agencies. This opens up possibilities for agencies to collaborate on related content and deliver a better customer experience to the public.

7. Increased Productivity

A CMS can automate many content management tasks, such as publishing press releases or other recurring content. This can save time and reduce operational errors. A CMS allows your content managers to post the content themselves, speeding up the posting process and eliminating the need for additional technical staff.

8. Improved Site Integrity and Policy Compliance

Improve your agency’s compliance with privacy, security, accessibility, and record-keeping prescriptions with CMS features such as centralized content storage, versioning control, and management controls over content publication. With a CMS, all content is stored in a database with date and time stamps of updates and a history of who made changes.

9. Increased Competitive Advantage

Although federal agencies don’t compete for market share in the same way as private industry, we do compete to deliver relevant and high quality content to the American public on a vast range of topics, from education to the environment to health awareness and jobs. A dynamic, changing website—powered by a CMS—creates the impression of a forward-thinking agency and allows quick responses to emerging issues that affect your mission.

 

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The difference between only distributing an online press release and opening up the benefits from a blogging community can be found in how your agency encourages and manages comments and engagement An easily-referenced comment policy lets authors and con -

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Social media button on a keyboardThe difference between only distributing an online press release and opening up the benefits from a blogging community can be found in how your agency encourages and manages comments and engagement. An easily-referenced comment policy lets authors and contributors know what your agency’s guidelines are in order to maintain an open, safe collaboration space.

For example, here is a recently updated blog comment policy:

“In order to foster an engaging digital environment, we reserve the right to restrict comments that are generally understood as any of the following:

  • Violent, racist, obscene, profane, or hateful
  • Comments that threaten or harm the reputation of any person or organization
  • Advertisements or solicitations of any kind
  • Comments that suggest or encourage illegal activity
  • Off-topic posts or repetitive posts that are copied and pasted or automated
  • Personal information including, but not limited to, identification numbers, phone numbers, emails

We also reserve the right to delete comments related to content we substantially revise or remove, in adherence with federal records management guidelines. We are committed to transparency and responsiveness in our engagement policies: if you believe your post meets the following guidelines and has been not posted within 24 business hours of submission, please notify us at (contact email)

The three most important features in this comment policy are:

  • Clarity: The policy clearly states not only what comments are appropriate, but why perceived restrictions are made. This can help prevent confusion before it occurs.
  • Expectation: The policy outlines not only what can reasonably be expected, but also sets a customer service timeline. Many difficulties organizations face in engagement policies stem from confusion over expectations of responsiveness, which makes it important to establish them in your policy.
  • Feedback: Your comment policy is designed to protect the rights of your contributors as well as promote meaningful engagement for your agency — mistakes in moderation are bound to happen, and contributors need to know there is a productive path for discussion.

With this aspect of your comment policy locked down, the question becomes, “Since contributors now know what kind of comments are restricted, what are you doing to let them know what kind of comments your community encourages?”

We would like to hear some of the best examples you know of how organizations are positively encouraging comments and engagement. Please leave them in the comment section below — we won’t delete them.

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Today we want to tell you about the federal agency trends we saw this year in the development of public facing mobile products Digital Government Strategy drove Mobile Gov Development  Digital Government Strategy milestone 7 -

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2014 mobile trendsToday we want to tell you about the federal agency trends we saw this year in the development of public facing mobile products.

Digital Government Strategy drove Mobile Gov Development  Digital Government Strategy milestone 7.2 required agencies to implement two public facing mobile products in May. The White House highlighted these agency mobile product implementations.

Responsive Design Proliferated. During the summer and fall a number of agencies like the Department of State,Department of CommerceDepartment of Energy,USA.govFood and Drug Administration, and HUD’s Office of the Inspector General implemented responsively designed websites.

Native Apps Still Important. Agencies did not abandon native development. A number of agencies took advantage of native mobile device functionality including  U.S. Census’ Dwellr, NOAA’s Whale AlertDolphin & Whale 911, and See & ID Dolphins & Whales, U.S. Coast Guard’s HSWL App, and National Park Service’s NPS Chesapeake Explorer App.

Upgrades and Makeovers for Existing Mobile Products. FEMA added a disaster reporter feature to the FEMA App, the Center’s for Disease Control added new outbreaks to their Solve the Outbreak app and the U.S. Census added new economic indicators to the America’s Economy app. The Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory created an iOS app version of the alternative fuel locator mobile website and the National Gallery of Art added an Android version of their Your Art app.

APIs and Code Sharing Continued to Expand. While the Digital Government Strategy required development of API’s as well as mobile products, some agencies took bigger steps to make it easier for developers to access government code.

Cross Agency Sharing Multiplied. There was an influx of cross agency sharing of mobile development practices, tools and solutions. In conjunction with the Federal CIO Council, we developed the Mobile Application Development Program. To help us create the program, agencies in the Mobile Gov Community of Practice shared

What to Expect in 2014. As we gaze into our Mobile Gov crystal ball for 2014, we see

  • More Agency Sharing. Like they did for Mobile User Experience Guidelines and Recommendations, the Mobile Gov Community of Practice will continue to gather agencies together to build government-wide expertise in mobile. Expect events around responsive design, native development and other mobile areas soon.
  • Increased Focus on User Experience. Agencies are placing more importance on usability and user experience as they build and update mobile products. The advanced ones will be heavily engaging with their users to accomplish it.
  • Emphasis on Code Sharing. Agencies will continue to increase their code sharing for development and reuse. The U.S. Census Bureau approach will be a model for a lot of agencies and more agencies will leverage the agency wide API SDK from Labor.
  • Focus on Data Structures and Content Models. Agencies will continue to rethink their data structures and create new content models for the proliferation of wearables, sharables, flyables and drivables we will see in 2014 and beyond.

What trends did you see in Mobile Gov for 2013 and what do you see happening in 2014? Let us know in the comments! Happy New Year!

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Casual Business Meeting Share and Enjoy: -

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company-culture-image

Casual Business Meeting

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Mobile Internet is a disruptive technology that is changing the way we work Share and Enjoy: -

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Photo of hands using a mobile device.

Mobile Internet is a disruptive technology that is changing the way we work.

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Ashley Casovan, City of Edmonton, giving input on the draft white paper during a consultation workshop held at CTG in June 2012 Seated to her right are Meghan Cook, program manager, CTG and Anthony Cresswell, senior fellow, CTG -

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CTG photo 3

Ashley Casovan, City of Edmonton, giving input on the draft white paper during a consultation workshop held at CTG in June 2012. Seated to her right are Meghan Cook, program manager, CTG and Anthony Cresswell, senior fellow, CTG.

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NASA hosted the first space-based Google Hangout in 2013. Courtesy image. It was a very good year, as Frank Sinatra sang, in the field of social media for the federal government. Advances were made not only in the technologies applied by agencies, but also the policies and strategies that unlock their potential to improve services […] -

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NASA hosted the first space-based Google Hangout in 2013. Courtesy image.

NASA hosted the first space-based Google Hangout in 2013. Courtesy image.

It was a very good year, as Frank Sinatra sang, in the field of social media for the federal government. Advances were made not only in the technologies applied by agencies, but also the policies and strategies that unlock their potential to improve services and reduce costs. I’d like to share with you just some of the programs that made 2013 a very good year for the SocialGov community, what the challenges are that we’ll face in the coming year, and also give you insight into what to expect in 2014 as we overcome those emerging challenges together with you.

To break the ice, let’s start with an agency it’s easy to find among the stars: NASA. The space agency’s Twitter account is the most followed in government, and their innovators like Jason Townsend are always looking for new and better ways to engage their community. NASA hosted two Google Hangouts with astronauts aboard the International Space Station — programs like these shatter the mold for what limits other agencies think exist, and open the door to better programs across mission fields.

The State Department took a cue from NASA and hosted a Google Hangout. Courtesy image.

The State Department took a cue from NASA and hosted a Google Hangout. Courtesy image.

For example, the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs analyzed NASA’s Hangouts, and decided to use this strategy in August to address questions about the new visa application process for couples to an audience of almost 20,000 citizens.

What’s Next? Improvements to the quality of Google Hangouts and other free livestream engagements, including high definition broadcast, will help more agencies use them for both inter-agency and citizen-to-government initiatives including:

  • Training events

  • Online engagements and press conferences (which both NASA and GSA held in 2013)

  • Educational programs that join public specialists with students and researchers

  • Online office hours like our weekly inter-agency SocialGov Hangout

That’s just one approach though — in 2013 agencies diverged from only engaging on one or two main platforms and expanded to look at a fuller breadth of options to improve their mission. Agencies now have more than 60 social media apps available to them with federal-friendly terms of service negotiated, allowing them to better select which method is best for engagement.

  • The Department of Interior, for example, quickly found success with Instagram by providing citizens with just a small taste of the national park experience via their mobile devices.

  • The Department of Health and Human Services explored Data Vines that tell a numbers-driven story in six animated seconds.

  • The Peace Corps illustrates for us their global mission through local eyes with Pinterest.

  • The Office of the Director of National Intelligence launched a Tumblr to provide better access to information about the Intelligence Community.

  • And Ready.gov and FEMA use integration platforms like Thunderclap that integrate the other standard platforms through citizen participation and deliver the greatest impact.

  • Agencies even gotten their feet wet in the viral space with Buzzfeed posts and animated gifs.

 

What’s next? More diverse and specialized tools and platforms for agencies are always in the review process for application to public services and terms of service. From performance analysis and management dashboards, to annotation and feedback tools, or better mobile image sharing, agencies will continue to gain new and more effective ways to reach, engage and listen to their communities. The examples go on, but they illustrate that gone are the days when the measure of an agency’s social media footprint is how many followers they may have on one platform.

#ASKFAFSA is a successful customer service program from Federal Student Aid. Courtesy image.

#ASKFAFSA is a successful customer service program from Federal Student Aid. Courtesy image.

Also, the success of a social media program is not only in using a tool or strategy, but how they measurably improve the performance of your mission.

A prime example is how in 2013 Nicole Callahan, Abraham Martinez and the Department of Education Federal Student Aid team turned their social media program into a digital customer service powerhouse that would be the envy of any organization. Each month they hosted online office hours using the #ASKFAFSA hashtag on Twitter to answer up to 150 questions per hour, and more than 50 percent of all posts from across platforms were all responses to questions from citizens.  They serve as a model example of how an agency can take their social media program beyond simple outbound communication and use it to significantly make the core customer experience of citizens better.

Social media can be used for more than improving engagement with citizens, though — it’s used to improve the policies and practices that govern our programs themselves.

One of our favorite examples was when the Union of Concerned Scientists released one Friday morning a study of federal agencies’ social media policies and graded them on provisions for scientific transparency. As soon as it was publicly released through social media, our SocialGov Community shared it and began analyzing. Scott Horvath at U.S. Geological Survey saw how the feedback could improve their own policy, and so by that afternoon he drafted, approved and distributed an update.

U.S. Geological Survey reviewed, edited and published updated social media policies with feedback. Courtesy image.

U.S. Geological Survey reviewed, edited and published updated social media policies with feedback. Courtesy image.

“Who ever said the federal government can’t work fast?” asked the Union of Concerned Scientists later that Friday afternoon in a public release. “That’s, um, fast. Sometimes it takes me longer to decide where I want to go for dinner.”

What’s next? More. We want to hear more of these applied innovation stories in 2014 as agencies, our partners and stakeholders increasingly use social media to make their operations faster and more effective. To achieve this we need you to not only know this level of performance is possible, but that it’s already happening in agencies and through your support it will continue to spread.

At the root of many of these successes is the strength of our federal-wide social media community itself, with more than 500 representatives from more than 130 agencies. Joined together as an objective-driven team, the SocialGov Community launched three working groups to deliver:

We demonstrated in 2013 that large-scale collaborative projects between diverse mission fields can be achieved through social technologies and strategies, and we are already planning to deliver more shared resources for government in 2014. Already in development are programs for entrepreneurial support, public prizes and competitions, regulatory participation and a new and updated toolkit to expand on our accessibility program.

Our collaborations in 2014 will not just improve government-wide shared services, though — they will better connect and address challenges for our programs at the ground level. Community-building through social media helped the Federal Trade Commission host the RoboCall Challenge, which invited citizens to develop new ways to block illegal robocalls to mobile and landlines. Almost 800 solutions were submitted, and one entry is already on the market for consumers.

The SocialGov Summit on Public Prizes and Competitions at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library Dream Lab. Courtesy image.

The SocialGov Summit on Public Prizes and Competitions at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library Dream Lab. Courtesy image.

What’s next? Whether through mobile development with the Mobile Community, innovative prize competitions through Challenge.gov, or the launch of new resources with the Federal Web Managers Council, the members of our SocialGov Community will continue to work across offices, agencies and missions to modernize and improve public services and meet the challenges of tomorrow.

Obstacles we will all face involve the continuing effort to identify, evaluate and implement social technologies while measuring, analyzing and reporting their effectiveness — challenges often compounded by:

  • Limited resources

  • The relentless pace of disruption and development in the field

  • The reality that most of these tools and initial processes are not developed for public sector missions

How are we going to face these challenges in 2014? Together. The shared services model we use helps us to not only share guidance, recommendations, and tools like the Federal Social Media Registry — we also use our strength of numbers across agencies to share knowledge of everything from adjustments in platform algorithms, reviews of the newest tools, and the analysis of our legal, privacy and security teams. The SocialGov Community may be only one-deep in some agencies, but that one person has the collective support and knowledge of more than 130 agencies at their fingertips.

Finally, considering all these examples and points made, the question arises “What is the top thing you think we should look forward to from social media in government in 2014?” The answer, Social Data, may only be two words but the coming benefits and innovations are sweeping in their impact.

From left: NASA's Jenn Gustetic; GSA's Justin Herman; FAA's Karen Snyder; FAFSA's Nicole Callahan; State's Corina DuBois; Education's Cameron Brenchley; CFPB's Deepa Kunapuli; and livestreamed guests from Australia, Ireland and Canada. Photos by Laura McHugh.

From left: NASA’s Jenn Gustetic; GSA’s Justin Herman; FAA’s Karen Snyder; FAFSA’s Nicole Callahan; State’s Corina DuBois; Education’s Cameron Brenchley; CFPB’s Deepa Kunapuli; and a livestreamed colleague from Australia. Photos by Laura McHugh.

We see it when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention challenges citizens to use social data to predict the outbreak of flu, and when the U.S. Geological Survey uses it to explore early warnings for earthquakes. Twitter worked with agencies to launch Twitter Alerts, an important first step in using verified social media from government for emergency management.  Using social data, however, developers can already go farther with entire verified streams for a wide array of public services for desktop, mobile and eventually wearable devices.

The Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs released a new API through Data.gov to share travel warnings and travel alerts with U.S. citizens traveling or living overseas.  In 2014 your start-up could be one of our best examples by integrating the API with other streams of their social data into websites and mobile applications such as tourism guides and online travel agencies. This is just one example of an opportunity that can be increasingly found in missions across government.

In thinking about the emergence of social data, I’ve broken it down into three main categories where we will see development (examples used to illustrate concepts only, not identify a specific project in the works):

  • Analysis, such as tracking in real-time the spread of wildfires, flu outbreaks or the performance of programs

  • Location-based services, such as improved travel safety programs described above and user experience models that bring services to citizens without needless navigation of bureaucracy

  • Physical services that help develop “the internet of things,” such as how interestingly in Australia they tagged sharks so they emit a warning tweet when they swim close to the shore, and how entrepreneurs are developing “social machines” that perform functions based on social data commands.

We have a lot to look forward to in 2014, but only through your participation and engagement can we successfully unlock the full potential of social media in government. I’d like to invite you to join all of us in the community, whether you’re a federal employee, small business, entrepreneur, researcher, developer, student or just a very opinionated person — no matter what role you can play in developing programs and services that make people’s lives better, we have a spot waiting for you right beside the #Socialgov hashtag.

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Challenge.gov is the platform and hub for federal prize competitions. Share and Enjoy: -

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Challenge.gov is the platform and hub for federal prize competitions.

Challenge.gov is the platform and hub for federal prize competitions.

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Learn more about Santa’s travels in the NORAD Santa Tracker Library Here Comes Santa Claus, Here Comes Santa Claus, Right Down iOS/Windows/Android Lane… What started out as a misdirected phone call to NORAD’s predecessor agency in 1955 turned into -

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Learn more about Santa's travels in the NORAD Santa Tracker Library.

Learn more about Santa’s travels in the NORAD Santa Tracker Library.

Here Comes Santa Claus, Here Comes Santa Claus, Right Down iOS/Windows/Android Lane…

What started out as a misdirected phone call to NORAD’s predecessor agency in 1955 turned into a much anticipated holiday tradition for kids and adults alike.
Fifty-eight years later, NORAD is still tracking the now 1600-year-old Santa’s whereabouts, but this year the agency is offering children and their parents a visually enhanced mobile app on 3 platforms and website (non-mobile) experience to follow along.

The 2013 NORAD Tracks Santa App places the young and young at heart in the middle of a rather adorable Santa’s North Pole village (it invokes high-tech “claymation”). Here they can explore NORAD Headquarters’ “secret” Santa surveillance files, a Library stocked with cool Santa factoids – including official specs for his sleigh – and the Arcade that features last year’s hilarious, if challenging Elf Toss/Thin Ice and other games & activities depending on your operating system.

Ho, Ho … And Go!

The main event, though, starts December 24 when NORAD asks us to return to the app to join its intelligence apparatus as it tracks Santa, who will commence his intrepid round-the-world trek starting at the International Date Line and then steadily head west. “Live tiles” will keep users update as to Santa’s latest location.

NORAD tracks Santa and his sleigh starting Christmas Eve, December 24. But you can have fun with this app well before then!

NORAD tracks Santa and his sleigh starting Christmas Eve, December 24. But you and the kids can have fun with this app well before then!

(*A helpful note: The clock you see on the app’s home screen is counting down the days until NORAD’s Santa tracking mission begins — the 24th.)

So, get a move on: Hang those stockings, open up the chimney flue, put out the cookies and milk, and download the app for your iPhone, Android or Windows device today …There are only a few more hours left until Christmas Eve, as the app countdown clock keeps reminding me.

Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good night!


Deck your mobile device home screens with more government apps like the NORAD Tracks Santa App by caroling your way over to the USA.gov Apps Gallery.

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It’s late at night. Your child can’t sleep: She has some kind of virus. You reach for a bottle of over-the-counter infant fever reducer you bought recently. But wait, you say to yourself: Didn’t I hear on the news something about a recall? Which brand was that again? Thanks to the digital team at the U.S. Food & Drug […] -

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Screen Shot of the FDA responsive design home page.It’s late at night. Your child can’t sleep: She has some kind of virus. You reach for a bottle of over-the-counter infant fever reducer you bought recently. But wait, you say to yourself: Didn’t I hear on the news something about a recall? Which brand was that again?

Thanks to the digital team at the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, you now have access to the latest drug and food product recalls the agency oversees right at your fingertips thanks to their new mobile-friendly FDA.gov homepage.

Doctors, pharmacists, nurses and patients on-the-go can also “Report an adverse event” directly from the mobile homepage screen, too — and important action made much more convenient.

Looking for specific medication or food product? It’s easy to use the Search function, which is front and center on the page. Consumer updatesnews and FDA blogs round out other direct-from-homepage offerings.

The FDA is the latest in the steady march of federal government agencies (EPA, State, HUD and HHS, to name a few) to use the new responsive design format. The FDA.gov’s homepage is the first in a series of pages the agency is equipping for responsive design, so stay tuned. Whip out your tablet or smartphone and try it out!

To learn more about responsive design, see this DigitalGov.gov webinar. You can download the latest government mobile apps from the USA.gov Apps Gallery.

This post was originally published on the Mobile Gov Blog.

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