Government's Use of Social Media Is Uneven

Given the prominent role of social media in his first presidential campaign, it’s no surprise that Barack Obama is bullish on social media as a means of communication between the government and citizens. But given the size and general unwieldiness of the federal government, it’s also no surprise that implementation of social media initiatives has been uneven.

That’s the conclusion of a report by the Partnership for Public Service and Booz Allen Hamilton, which recognizes “pockets of excellence and innovation” in implementing social media initiatives, but also acknowledges that implementation is “by no means standard across the government.” In fact, some federal employees are still prohibited from accessing social media sites. Overall, the government still needs to “catch up with the nearly decade-old social media revolution.”

On the positive side, PPS and BAH identify seven successful programs which are presented as case studies for other agencies to model themselves after. Among the examples cited, the State Department produced an app for teaching English; the Energy Department created an internal wiki for facilitating employee collaboration; and the Federal Emergency Management Agency made social media a central part of its system for communicating with the public about natural disasters and other emergencies.



The report also noted the success of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national social media reporting system for influenza; the Air Force Medical Service’s use of social media to improve health service delivery, including making service-members aware of benefits and services; the National Archives and Records Administration’s use of social media to recruit skilled volunteers; and NASA’s crowd-sourcing project to produce an “international space app.”

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