Monday, February 6, 2012

Class 4: Organizational institutions for the use of social media in government

In preparation for class 4 on February 13, 2012, please review GSA's "" website, the assigned readings  and prepare questions for our guest speaker Rachel Flagg.

Rachel Flagg is the Deputy Director, Center for Customer Service Excellence at General Services Administration and the Federal Web Managers Council Co-Chair. According to her LinkedIn profile, her current projects include: strategic planning for the Federal Web Managers Council and Content Managers Forum; helping agency Web Managers implement web-related aspects of the Open Government Directive; and increasing Citizen Engagement to improve openness and transparency in government operations. She supports,, and helps coordinate the annual Government Web Managers Conference. At GSA she is also responsible for You can find her on Twitter: @rachelflagg.

Please post your questions in the comment section of this blog post!


  1. I didn't know before Professor Mergel mentioned it in class. I find the information provided useful not only for the government employees in charge of social media & web strategies, but for citizens interested in understanding how the government work -why they give out some information, how is it being archived and so on.

    I have a couple of questions about the website and the organization behind it. First, I see there is a cloud computing iniciative in place. In the light of recent cyberattacks on government websites, has the government's approach to storing things on the cloud changed? Are they doing something about reducing risk vulnerabilities?

    Finally, has provided any assistance to state/local governments in setting up similar strategies? It seems to me that the use of social media might be more useful as it gets closer to the citizens, from the federal to the local government. I am wondering if this has actually happened and, if there are similar guidelines for social media in government in other levels of government.

  2. I also think that the site is very comprehensive and seems to provide solutions that cover many of the barriers and challenges to implementing social media applications that we discussed in class. I do have a couple of questions.
    1. How do you deal with the volatility of the 3rd party systems? It seems like new features are being added which may require new policies for use and new procedures, privacy issues. Also, there may be new ones being developed. One example is the beta Google+ that may eventually be a major player in the microblog/social media world and even replace Twitter. An agency having to readjust all the time seems costly and could be unsettling to employees.
    2. What are your strategies for overcoming resistance from employees in adopting social media? I know that the Federal Government has directives in place to embrace these technologies, but I am curious if this alone solves the problem of resistance to change. In my work experience, I find any progress in using technology to improve communication beyond email and listservs is met with resistance. Staff indicate that they are busy with core responsibilities which leaves little time/energy for adopting new ways of working. Any strategies for overcoming resistance?

  3. Hello Ms. Flagg. I visited the website "" and felt it is a very well designed one. Especially, I was very impressed that it was so easy to find various data or reading materials that I want by just typing a word. I have a question on governmantal employees' using social media and their accountability, which I couldn't find in the website because I think I'm not familiar with the website yet.
    - More public involvement in the governing process through Web 2.0 is now encouraged and is considered one good way to promote transparency, collaboration and efficiency in public service. Then, to what extent governmental employees should be accountable for the comments they post on their own social media, especially Twitter? For instance, almost every influential person or politician who hasn't obtained a position has been signing up Twitter and now has a huge mumber of followers. When one of them is elected to be a power, then to what degree does he/she have to take the responsibility for the comments or information posted on his/her Twitter? Or, should his/her Twitter be considered as the official Twitter of the organization he/she now belong to?

  4. Hello Ms Flagg, there has been so much hype about the sharing of government data under the open government directive, what are the risks attached to that, and how are they mitigated?

    Also, how secure are US government sites against hacking? Could security of government sites be breached by increased access to government data, and if so, how can they be protected, while not reneging on the open government promise?

    Thank you.

  5. is a very impressive website in that it provides huge resources of guidelines and solutions in one place to help government agencies improve their ways of communication with stakeholders.

    In applying general guidelines, each agency may encounter challenges specific to the agency and wish to get more customized solutions through But I think your role is to identify more commom and general issues and solutions applicable to many government agencies. If you have those kind of specific demands from particular agencies, how do you deal with it? How do you control the level of customization in solutions?

    I think another important role you perform is to lead government agencies to utilize optimal tools and solutions for their service by introducing the most appropriate tools to date. How do you organize your system to scan the environment in the development of new tools and select the best one for government agencies with what criteria?

    Thanks and I look forward to your presentation.

  6. Hello Ms. Flagg. The site provides the valuable information and huge resources of guidelines and solutions to implementing social media applications. I have a question about the social media in increasing citizen engagement.

    Image a scenario, if government sectors rapidly adopt social media from top to down, but there is less valuable information and few replies to the public, the public with great expection will be more disappointment and have no interest in this innovation. It is impossible to increase citizen engagement to improve openness and transparency in government operations if without the offline institution transformation. How to better use the microblog for the trust between the government and the public? I wonder how the social media play a role in increasing citizen engagement to improve openness and transparency in public sectors in US.

    See you soon and I look forward to your presentation.

  7. I find the website a fantastic resource for various government agencies. Coming from India, I definitely see the need for us to have something similar for different agencies there.

    A couple of questions though that came up are:

    1. I feel that the resources for integrating social media or making current government websites more user-friendly are there but the bigger issue is changing the behaviour of government employees. Have you encountered challenges in having government employees not just change their websites but also adapt to different social media channels? Particularly for the baby-boomers generation.

    2. I saw there were best case practices but something I could not find was metrics on changes in performance. For instance: number of citizens now engaged with an agency vs. when the website was old and did not use social media. Or improvement in satisfaction ratings of an agency after implementing some of these changes. Are these metrics available?

    I look forward to your presentation.

    Thank You