For some time now, social network GovLoop – essentially a niche “Facebook” for government employees, contractors, and people interested in the intersection of emerging technology with governance and politics – has been growing strong since its founding in June 2008. Now, with over 12,500 members connecting, GovLoop has received awards from two influential Washington, DC organizations: the AFCEA (Bethesda Chapter) Social Media Award, and the ACT Intergovernmental Solutions Award.
AFCEA, a national group committed to information exchange on the topics of defense, security, and intelligence, recognized GovLoop’s founder, Streve Ressler, at a luncheon in the Willard Intercontinental Hotel near the White House on May 27. Recalling the Obama Administration themes of open, transparent, participatory, and collaborative government, upon receiving the award Ressler commented, “I accept this award on behalf of all my fellow GovLoop members. It’s the participation that makes GovLoop an open government success.”
To win an ACT Intergovernmental Solutions Award, organizations must foster collaborative programs and measureable results, and GovLoop fits that description well. ACT, a non-profit that promotes government use of efficient information technology for public service, gives 25 of these awards per year to federal, state, local agencies and other groups and individuals. Martha Dorris, the current President of ACT, noted, “We’re very proud to showcase the best of the best, not only to reinforce government’s role as an innovator, but to provide a platform where these agencies can share their ideas for the ultimate benefit of our citizens.”
I personally have used GovLoop for some time now and have found it useful for a number of reasons. For one, it serves as a filter for finding tech-savvy people with an interest in government. Two, it easily enables blogging and commenting behind a firewall, so while it is relatively accessible, the entire world cannot easily find it and people can speak more freely than they might on a private blog or on a service like Twitter.
Finally, it is probably the best tool available at present for connecting federal government employees around the country with each other, across units and agencies, and also connecting feds with state and local government employees and contractors. For events like the upcoming (September) Government 2.0 Expo Showcase, which invites talks about government-meets-technology from any level of government, these connections, and sometimes collaborations, are becoming increasingly critical to realizing the visions of the president and many other political leaders around the country.