EPA taking baby steps with Web 2.0

Environmental Protection Agency officials said they’re taking a step-by-step approach to adopting Web 2.0 technologies to make sure the agency is using them properly.

EPA Chief Information Officer Molly O’Neill said her agency wants to start using the Web applications to gather, organize and share information among members of the public as well as state and local agencies.  However, she wants to make sure that they're using the right tool for the right job.

“I don't think we should roll out technology for technology's sake,” O’Neill said. She participated in an EPA-hosted online chat today that also featured Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock.

O’Neill said EPA officials have expressed interest in adopting Web applications because the agency already uses those tools for internal collaboration and communications outside the agency.

For example, Peacock contributes to EPA's agencywide blog "Greenversations." O'Neill’s office is using blogs and roundtable discussions to ask how environmental information can be better shared.

However, O’Neill wants to go further with applications that might include developing science documents through wikis online or investigating an issue by talking to a wide set of experts.

Peacock said the agency is looking to launch a collaborative wiki on climate change. However, he said the scope of the wiki must be limited to get coherent answers to specific questions.

“There's an elephant of an opportunity here, but we have to eat it a bite at a time,” Peacock said.

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