The General Services Administration (GSA) has worked out it’s legal concerns with Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, blip.tv and Facebook so that federal agencies can use these forms of new media to interact with US citizens. The GSA initially had some concerns with the general terms and agreements of these sites possibly not meeting liability limits, endorsements and freedom of information that the federal government requires.
“We need to get official information out to sites where people are already visiting and encourage them to interact with their government,” said GSA Acting Administrator Paul Prouty. “The new agreements make it easier for the government to provide official information to citizens via their method of choice.”
The agencies are free to choose which of the sites they will use and what content that they can or will post on those sites. The GSA did not take the contracts to that level. Instead they standardized the terms and agreements with those sites so that the agencies can make the choice of which sites and what content to post. This frees the agencies to use the sites they believe will best get their message out to the American people.
The GSA negotiated on behalf of all agencies to standardize the terms and agreements. All of the sites were reluctant to negotiate separate agreements with the hundreds of different agencies because of the costs and time involved.
“Several federal agencies helped to negotiate these agreements, so it’s hoped that other agencies will find the language acceptable,” said GSA Acting Associate Administrator Martha Dorris.
GSA said it started with Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo and blip.tv because those providers are innovative and have large audiences. However, the agency would like to negotiate agreements with many additional providers.
Agencies are already free to use Twitter because GSA found its standard terms of service compatible with federal use.
If a governments agency is not yet on your favorite social networking site give them some time. The GSA is looking at more sites so that they can expand the offering.