Friday 9 April 2010

Cass Sunstein OMB memo: agency guidance on using social media

InformationWeek reports that Cass Sunstein, White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs administrator, has issued a memo (7 page pdf) providing guidance to federal government agencies and making it easier to communicate with citizens and collect feedback from them by way of the Internet and social media. The memo explains that the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), which requires federal agencies to get approval from the OMB before collecting information from the public, does not in most cases apply to agencies' use of social networks, wikis and blogs. Federal agencies are increasingly using social media applications like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to solicit public comment and hold virtual public meetings. The memo explains that agency websites that let the public rate comments through a thumbs-up/thumbs-down voting mechanism or through numerical ratings and tag clouds are not subject to the PRA. Government agencies may employ on their Websites general "suggestion boxes" or applications for brainstorming to enable the public to submit feedback. However, the OMB recommends agencies limit use of the information generated by these tools to organizing, ranking, and sorting comments.

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