Sheila Campbell

Web 2.0 for the pros

Sheila Campbell's social-networking efforts bring federal Web managers together

As told to Doug Beizer

Sheila Campbell, manager of the Government Web Best Practices Team in the General Services Administration's Office of Citizen Services and co-chairperson of the Federal Web Managers Council, manages three interagency initiatives. They are: Web Manager University, which provides low-cost, practical training to federal Web professionals; Webcontent.gov, a source for federal Web requirements and best practices; and the Web Content Managers Forum, where more than 1,500 federal, state, and local Web professionals share resources and work to reduce duplication across government.

Before we created Webcontent.gov, government Web managers didn't have an authoritative, central place to find out what requirements and best practices they needed to follow. The Federal Web Managers Council had made recommendations to the Office of Management and Budget on policies for federal public Web sites — as part of OMB's requirements for the E-Government Act of 2002 — but they weren't available online.

So we put those best practices up on WebContent.gov, and OMB encouraged agencies to go there to learn about how to implement the policies. That gave us legitimacy, and was a huge help to agency Web managers who needed an authoritative source to convince their bosses that they were doing the right thing. We continue to build on those best practices, leveraging the tremendous expertise that we have in our government Web manager community.

The Federal Web Managers Council and the Web Best Practices team at GSA support a network of over 1,500 federal, state, and local Web managers across the country. For years, we've collaborated via an e-mail listserv. While this has served us well and helped us build a community, it hasn't allowed us to do the kind of in-depth collaboration we now need to take us to the next level.

With a listserv, it's all or nothing, and you're emailing everyone about everything. But with the social-networking site, we're able to build specific communities around specific topics like social media, user-centered design, managing multilingual Web sites, Web metrics, search technology, etc.

It's a much more focused way for us to communicate with each other, and it's much easier for folks to find specific subject matter experts within the government Web manager community. So it will help us build new relationships, strengthen existing ones, and have online discussions on key strategic issues facing our community.

The reason this kind of collaboration is so important is that a lot of government Web managers are working in isolation. In some cases, they're a lone Web content manager for their city's Web site. Or they're at an agency that wants to try something innovative, but wants to first see who else has tested the waters. Or maybe they have a lot of expertise that they want to share with others. So it's a very diverse group, and we want to tap into the wisdom of the crowds to help us all do our jobs better and support each other.

These days, people are also feeling overwhelmed by the number of social networks they belong to, like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and GovLoop, so this is yet another one. So we've addressed that by providing unique value to the community — it's the one place where they can go to collaborate with their peers, discuss common issues, share documents, and read news that's relevant to their specific work as a government Web manager.

Webcontent.gov and Web Manager University have evolved to become integrated entities. There's a lot of interaction because the two programs are managed out of the same division at GSA and because the program missions naturally support each other.

At every Web Manager University class, we spend a lot of time talking about the best practices on WebContent.gov and how people can get involved in various communities of interest around different topics.

So, for example, if we host a class on how to write a blog, we'll talk about the best practices about blogging that are published on WebContent.gov. Similarly, on WebContent.gov, we link people to the relevant training classes from Web Manager University.

These connections are important because we've found that if government Web managers have these key areas of support, it will help them do their jobs well

There's no question that there's tremendous potential with Web 2.0 tools. While a lot of agencies have experimented with Web 2.0, much of the potential is still untapped. But we need to be strategic, not reactionary.

We shouldn't use Web 2.0 technologies just for the sake of using them, just so government can say we're doing it. These tools need to be used — just like any other technology — to accomplish agency mission.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group