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Call it a second-order derivative. Several agencies, including the Navy and the Federal Aviation Administration, are working with the Knowledge Management Professional Society to offer other agencies a community of practice about communities of practice.

A community of practice is an electronic workspace that brings together people who share a similar interest or expertise. It usually includes a repository of relevant information and features that allow participants to interact online. "There are so many government agencies that are trying to do communities of practice, but they're doing it almost by themselves," said Douglas Weidner, chief knowledge officer for the Knowledge Management Professional Society. "If you could just get all of the people in the government who are doing communities of practice to share what they're learning and the information and knowledge they have, then imagine how powerful the solution could be." The initiative, called Federal Connections, is in the process of being launched and will be open to any federal agency that wants to participate. There will be about 10 discussion topics, including how to get started, how to determine roles, what options are available for technology support and a repository of documents and CDs. According to FAA knowledge strategist Bob Turner, who is co-leading the effort, Federal Connections has two purposes: to be a one-stop shop for information on starting and running a community of practice within the government and to act as a directory of communities of practice. "Any government person can come to our site and learn all they wanted to know about communities of practice or they can find a community that fits their needs," Turner said.

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