GSA showcases agencies' blogs

Blogs from the U.S. government

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Did you ever want to travel to Morocco with a Peace Corps volunteer, discuss the social significance of “The Grapes of Wrath” with the literature director of the National Endowment for the Arts over a bottle of Bordeaux wine or just tell a government agency chief that she has it all wrong? A new Web site from the General Services Administration showcasing federal agencies’ launch into the blogosphere aims to make that all happen -- sort of.

The new site on the USA.gov portal provides links to archived and active Web logs from agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution and the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

“What blogs are really about are engaging the public with the government,” said Bev Godwin, director of USA.gov. “There are people that read blogs more than they go to Web pages and so it’s a way to get your information out whether it’s about safety or Library of Congress or anything else into the blog community.”

Blogs have become increasingly popular among federal agencies as they try to bolster their online presence and become more user-friendly. Many of the blogs featured on GSA’s new Web site are hosted by senior agency executives and address some of the more pressing challenges the agency faces.

For example, the Department of Health and Human Services is finishing up hosting a five-week blog focused on preparing for a potential flu pandemic. The blog, which runs from May 22 to June 27, features dialogue among business, community, faith and health industry leaders, and is meant to foster collaboration that will spur ideas on how to best prepare for a crisis.

CDC’s National Center for Health marketing has been using a blog called “Health Marketing Musings” as a way to discuss strategies for communicating health information and conducting communications research.

Although using blogs can benefit agencies, GSA also warns that agencies need to address the time, legal and confidentiality challenges presented by starting and maintaining a blog.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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