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  Enabling Change with Policy

  New Media (Web 2.0) Capabilities
      in the .Gov Environment
   and Government Use Elsewhere

                Office of Governmentwide Policy
                General Services Administration
Comments to Terry.Weaver@GSA.Gov and Alex.Koudry@GSA.Gov
                         March 12, 2009
                       Draft – Version 0.17

      DRAFT Guideline for Using New Media (Web 2.0) by the United States Government

                                     Table of Contents

1.0  Introduction ............................................................................ 3
2.0  Definition of New Media or Web 2.0 ...................................... 4
3.0  Context and Use of Web 2.0 .................................................. 5
4.0  Management of Information Exchange ................................. 6
5.0  Information Quality ................................................................ 6
6.0  Information Collection ........................................................... 7
7.0  Intellectual Property............................................................... 7
8.0  Agency Websites Linking to External Services ................... 8
9.0  Usability of Data ..................................................................... 8
10.0 Accessibility to Persons Who Have Disabilities .................. 8
11.0 Availability of Information and Access to Persons without
     Internet Access ...................................................................... 8
12.0 Availability to Persons with Limited English Proficiency ... 9
13.0 Privacy .................................................................................... 9
14.0 Security................................................................................. 10
15.0 Identity Authentication of Users ......................................... 10
16.0 Federal Advisory Committee Act ........................................ 11
17.0 Rulemaking........................................................................... 11
18.0 Records Management and Archiving ................................. 11
19.0 Other Legal Issues ............................................................... 12
20.0 Employee Use Considerations ............................................ 13
21.0 Technology Infrastructure Impact ...................................... 14
22.0 For Further Information ....................................................... 14
Appendix A – Resources .............................................................. 15

      DRAFT Guideline for Using New Media (Web 2.0) by the United States Government

1.0     Introduction

The Office of Governmentwide Policy, Office of Technology Strategy (OTS) mission is
to provide central leadership and direction for the use of electronic government and
technology in the Federal Government. In addition, OTS also manages the policy
requirements for the .gov domain of the Internet. Policy regulations can be found at 41
C.F.R. § 102-173.90. As new applications and capabilities on the Internet evolve, it is
important to consider the policy foundations and applicability and determine if new or
different policy is needed and how existing policy is applicable.

Web 2.0 capabilities bring additional tools that agencies may utilize to increase the
transparency, accountability, and citizen participation in Government programs. Internet
Web Capabilities are information technology and covered by substantial laws, policy, and
guidance. The foundational regulation, OMB Circular A-130, titled “Management of
Information Resources” contains a section titled Basic Considerations and Assumptions.
This section includes the following: “The application of up-to-date information
technology presents opportunities to promote fundamental changes in agency structures,
work processes, and ways of interacting with the public that improve the effectiveness
and efficiency of Federal agencies.” Web 2.0 are the next technologies and are ideal for
these purposes. The technologies can also be used to build strong communications within
and between agencies, and to attract and retain new talent in the Federal workforce.

This document provides practical advice and guidance for Federal agencies using new
media (Web 2.0) in the United States Government in the context of relevant existing
policies and legislation. The scope of this guideline includes:

   1. Hosting Web 2.0 technologies on agency servers for internal use;
   2. Hosting Web 2.0 technologies on agency sites for public use;
   3. Employing Web 2.0 technologies on non-agency hosted sites;
   4. Utilizing non-Federally hosted Web 2.0 technologies to disseminate information
      (eg. Second Life and YouTube); and
   5. Acting responsibly as a Federal employee in accessing and participating in web
      activities regardless of the environment.

As the title “Enabling Change with Policy” implies, these new technologies can and
should be utilized when they address an agency business need. This document helps to
explain how to implement those capabilities and remain policy compliant with Federal
regulations. From a policy perspective, the new Web 2.0 capabilities are really simply
evolutionary enhancements to the Internet. What are new and exciting are the social and
cultural changes that new generations of users have introduced as they have grown up
with the Internet and ubiquitous computer access. The possible benefits and impacts of
these technologies can be potentially transformative. As Federal agencies consider Web
2.0 technologies to enhance their outreach to citizens, businesses and other governments,
they can do so and follow the current laws, policies, and guidelines that control

      DRAFT Guideline for Using New Media (Web 2.0) by the United States Government

government utilization of information technologies. The Internet-enabled collaborative
technologies collectively referred to in this document as Web 2.0 are evolving at a very
rapid rate. Government use of these technologies falls under existing policy and
guidelines. While many of the existing policies do not include the term Web 2.0
specifically, they are still applicable. These statutes and regulations are not technology
dependent and can still be applied to new developments, and still apply to new
technologies regardless of the media or distribution channel used to disseminate them.
These regulations cover many areas including, but not limited to, accessibility, records
management, privacy, security, and information quality.

The General Services Administration is issuing this guideline to, in one place inform
agencies of the presence of existing policies that are applicable to Web 2.0 and to
introduce some new uses of current policy statements. GSA also hosts websites, that
contain many resources to help agencies comply with the policies mentioned in this
document. The first,, has links to laws and regulations related to
information technology. The second,, contains more such links
with a focus on web content management.

What does this mean?
As new applications and technologies are deployed by Federal agencies, compliance with
existing laws, regulations, directives and guidance should not to be overlooked.

What do I need to do?
If your job includes roles such as application developer, webmaster, content owner,
program manager, web content manager, Chief Technology Officer, New Media
Strategist or Chief Information Officer, you need to plan proactively to implement new
capabilities and ensure compliance with the policies and requirements referenced in this

2.0    Definition of New Media or Web 2.0

Wikipedia defines Web 2.0 as, “…a term describing changing trends in the use of World
Wide Web technology and web design that aims to enhance creativity, information
sharing, and, most notably, collaboration among users.” Wikipedia goes on to say
“These concepts have led to the development and evolution of web-based communities
and hosted services, including social-networking sites, video sharing sites, wikis, blogs,
and folksonomies. The term became notable after the first O’Reilly Media Web 2.0
Conference in 2004. Although the term suggests a new version of the World Wide Web,
it does not refer to an update of any technical specifications, but to changes in the ways
software developers and end-users utilize the Web.” Visitors can become participants
and frequently contribute to the Web 2.0 sites. Microblogs, videoblogs, RSSfeeds,
virtual worlds and other developments to the way individuals utilize and interact through
the internet are also considered Web 2.0 tools. New Media and Social Media are other
terms used for Web 2.0 tools.

      DRAFT Guideline for Using New Media (Web 2.0) by the United States Government

What does this mean?
Web 2.0 makes the Internet more interactive. Web sites are no longer merely one-way
portals and business tranactions but instead can provide an interactive environment for
sharing, dialogue and collaboration among a diverse group of people.

What do I need to do?
Look for opportunities to utilize new technologies and capabilities in a smart and
professional manner. Remember that Web 2.0 technologies are subject to same
principles and guidance as other internet and communications technologies that an
agency may already use to disseminate or collect information.

3.0    Context and Use of Web 2.0

Web 2.0 technologies provide opportunities for agencies to disseminate and collect
information from both internal and external customers in new and exciting ways.
Technologies such as wikis, blogs and social networking sites all provide unique ways of
collaborating electronically. Web 2.0 technologies are especially useful when additional
two-way communication or collaboration would be beneficial to the task. Like any
information technology initiative, the business uses, goals and expected benefits should
be first established to help guide the selection and use of specific technologies. The
inclusion of applicable information technology policies early in requirements gathering
process is critical. Also of consideration are the Federal employee requirements to
provide content, moderate, and maintain these constructs and the ability of the individual
Federal organizations to digest the volume of input received.

In this regard, various policies, regulations and guidance are already in place to guide
managers when embarking on the use of technologies in support of their programs. In
addition, there are considerations that Federal employees must continue to address when
using Web 2.0 technologies as end users, even when doing so as private citizens. Federal
employees must remember that any time they make a statement on public Web2.0 media
with any identifying information attached, they are in effect making a public statement
under the guise of their position. Even if the employee does not intend to make a binding
or public statement, by including identifying information in the post (such as name,
position, or even agency affiliation) the communication may be interpreted in this manner
by other end users. Federal employees must ensure that they do not communicate
anything that they would not state publicly in a non-virtual context.

What does this mean?
Care needs to be given to all communications made in an increasingly connected world.

What do I need to do?

      DRAFT Guideline for Using New Media (Web 2.0) by the United States Government

Remember that you are a Federal employee no matter what identifying information you
provide. Do not take any actions or make any statements that you would not do openly at

4.0    Management of Information Exchange

One of the major enticements of using Web 2.0 technology is the ability to exchange
informal ideas among multiple parties with transparency. Agencies should decide up
front their policies for collecting and processing incoming information. Some Web 2.0
collaborative tools (blogs, for example) may allow agencies to moderate contributions
before they are posted to the public. Agencies should clearly state how their tools are
moderated and what users are allowed, and not allowed, to contribute. Other forms of
communications (such as virtual worlds) may not provide any viable method of pre-
screening contributions. Agencies should be aware of their inability to moderate certain
forms of Web 2.0 communications and clearly post disclaimers if necessary.

Inventories of Information Dissemination Products: From an internal implementation
perspective, almost all Web 2.0 technologies fall under the definition of information
dissemination products used to convey information to the public. Therefore, regardless
of the specific Web 2.0 tool, agencies are required to continue to disseminate information
to the public in a timely, equitable, efficient, and appropriate manner and to establish and
maintain Information Dissemination Product Inventories. Agencies must consider
disparities of access and how those without internet access will have access to important
disseminations. Alternative strategies to distribute information available on Web 2.0
technologies should be developed alongside any utilization of Web 2.0 tools. Resources:
OMB Circular A-130 and the Paperwork Reduction Act

Accountability for Information Dissemination Products: Agencies are required to
develop priorities and schedules for making government information available and
accessible to the public and these must be posted on agency websites. The annual E-
Government Act report to OMB must also contain information on the final inventories,
priorities and schedules. Agencies are also required to implement and maintain an
Information Dissemination Management System. Resources: E-Government Act

5.0    Information Quality

The Public places a high degree of trust in .gov content and considers it an authoritative
source. Under the Information Quality Act and associated guidelines, agencies are
required to maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information and
services provided to the public. With regard to Web 2.0 information dissemination
products, Agencies must reasonably ensure suitable information and service quality
consistent with the level of importance of the information. Reasonable steps include: 1)

      DRAFT Guideline for Using New Media (Web 2.0) by the United States Government

clearly identifying the limitations inherent in the information dissemination product (e.g.,
possibility of errors, degree of reliability, and validity) so users are fully aware of the
quality and integrity of the information or service, 2) taking reasonable steps to remove
the limitations inherent in the information, and 3) reconsidering delivery of the
information or services. In short, agency management must ensure that the agency
position is reflected in all communications rather than one person’s opinion. Resource:
Information Quality Act, Pub. L. No. 106-554

6.0    Information Collection

Agencies are required, when practicable, to use electronic forms and filing to conduct
official business with the public, and Web 2.0 technologies can be used in many cases to
meet this need. Federal public websites must ensure that information collected from the
public minimizes burden and maximizes public utility. The Paperwork Reduction Act
(PRA) covers the collection of data from the public. The PRA requires OMB approval of
all surveys given to ten (10) or more participants. This includes any sort of survey where
identical questions are given to ten or more participants, regardless of the format. The
exception to the survey rule is an anonymous submission form where users can provide
open ended comments or suggestions without any sort of Government guidance on the
Resources: Government Paperwork Elimination Act and Paperwork Reduction Act

7.0    Intellectual Property

The use and management of Web 2.0 technologies raises several questions about the legal
concepts of copyright, fair use, and intellectual property ownership. Agencies must be
diligent to ensure that they consider existing intellectual property and copyright laws
when implementing Web 2.0 technologies. While the Federal government typically
provides public data which is not considered copyrightable intellectual property, Web 2.0
technologies that allow public contribution of content may potentially create challenges
regarding the protection of intellectual property contributed by visitors. The ease of
copying and propagating data from many sources on the internet makes it very easy to
unintentionally breach copyright laws. Most commercial media sharing websites warn of
the illegal use of copyrighted materials and trademarks. This strategy may or may not
prove sufficient to protect the interests of government agencies, depending on specific
circumstances. Agencies must establish policies and post clear disclaimers detailing the
copyrights that non-government contributors to their sites may retain. Government
content on any site is generally public domain and therefore can not become the
intellectual property of an individual or be protected by a site provider. Care must be
taken to not create the appearance of a copyright on a government created work, unless
specifically permitted by statute. Resources:, U.S. Trademark Law

      DRAFT Guideline for Using New Media (Web 2.0) by the United States Government

8.0    Agency Websites Linking to External Services

Many Web 2.0 services are hosted outside government websites. These services include
popular media sharing services such as YouTube. If users are connected to these sites
from Government websites using hyperlinks, agencies are required to establish and
enforce explicit agency-wide linking policies that set out management controls for
linking beyond the agency to outside services and websites. Typically the user is notified
they are leaving the Government website. Resource: OMB Memo M-05-04

9.0    Usability of Data

Many Web 2.0 technologies allow users to take data from one website and combine it
with data from another, commonly referred to as “Mashups.” Agency public websites are
required, to the extent practicable and necessary to achieve intended purposes, to provide
all data in an open, industry standard format that permits users to aggregate, disaggregate,
or otherwise manipulate and analyze the data to meet their needs. Agencies need to
ensure that these open industry standard formats are followed to maximize the utility of
their data. Resource: OMB Memo M-05-04

10.0 Accessibility to Persons Who Have Disabilities

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, (as amended), requires that electronic and
information technologies purchased, maintained, or used by the Federal Government
meet certain accessibility standards. These standards are designed to make online
information and services fully available to the 54 million Americans who have
disabilities, many of whom cannot possibly access information that does not comply with
the Section 508 standards. Agencies are already required by the Federal Acquisition
Regulations to modify acquisition planning procedures to ensure that the 508 Standards
are properly considered, and to include the standards in requirements documents. OMB
reminds agencies to disseminate information to the public on a timely and equitable basis,
specifically mentioning meeting the Section 508 requirements in OMB Memorandum M-
06-02. Agencies employing non-Federal Web 2.0 services are required to ensure that
persons with disabilities have either accessible access to those services or equivalent
access to the information disseminated on those services. Resources: Section 508 of the
Rehabilitation Act ,OMB Memo M-06-02

11.0 Availability of Information and Access to Persons without
     Internet Access

     DRAFT Guideline for Using New Media (Web 2.0) by the United States Government

Agencies are required to provide members of the public who do not have internet
connectivity with timely and equitable access to information, for example, by providing
hard copies of reports and forms. For the most part, using Web 2.0 technologies as an
exclusive channel for information distribution would prevent users without internet
access, including those who live in rural locations, or those who are economically
disadvantaged, from receiving such information. In addition, some Web 2.0 services
require high speed internet access and high bandwidth to be effectively utilized, which
may not be available in rural areas or may be unaffordable. In general, this requirement
is no different for Web 2.0 implementations than it is for other electronic service
offerings. Programs must simply make alternative, non-electronic, forms of information
dissemination available upon request. Resources: OMB Circular A-130 section 8 (See
a5(d)) and Appendix IV

12.0 Availability to Persons with Limited English Proficiency

Executive Order 13166 requires that agencies provide appropriate access to persons with
limited English proficiency. The scope of this requirement encompasses all “Federally
conducted programs and activities.” Anything an agency does, including using Web 2.0
technologies to communicate and collaborate with citizens, falls under the reach of the
mandate. Under this Executive Order, agencies must determine how much information
they need to provide in other languages based on an assessment of customer needs. As
before, the requirements for Web 2.0 implementations are no different than those
required for other electronic formats. Resources: Commonly Asked Questions and
Answers Regarding Executive Order 13166, Executive Order 13166

13.0 Privacy

Federal public websites are required to conduct privacy impact assessments, post privacy
policies on each website, post a “Privacy Act Statement” that describes the agency’s legal
authority for collecting personal data and how the data will be used, and post privacy
policies in a standardized machine readable format such as Platform for Privacy
Preferences Project, or P3P.

Policy also mandates that Federal websites are prohibited from using persistent cookies
and other web tracking methods unless their use has been approved by an agency head or
designated agency sub-head, for a compelling need. When approved in this fashion,
agencies must post clear notice of the nature of the information collected in the cookies,
the purpose and use of the information, whether or not and to whom the information will
be disclosed, and the privacy safeguards applied to the information collected. Resource:
OMB Memo M-03-22

     DRAFT Guideline for Using New Media (Web 2.0) by the United States Government

14.0 Security

When government websites become two-way communities, it opens the possibility for
the insertion of viruses and other attack agents into the government environment. OMB
Memo M-05-04 identifies security policies that must be followed by agency websites.
Many of these security policies have implications for Web 2.0 technologies. Agencies
are required to provide adequate security controls to ensure information is resistant to
tampering, to preserve accuracy, to maintain confidentiality as necessary, and to ensure
that the information or service is available as intended by the agency and as expected by
users. Under the Federal Information Security Management Act (Title III of the
eGovernment Act), and OMB guidance, a Certification and Accreditation (C&A) process
is required on all Federal IT systems that utilize Web 2.0 implementations. This C&A
activity must be performed by an independent third party auditing team and must
conform to the Risk Management Framework of the National Institute of Standards and
Resources: OMB Memo M-05-04, e-Government Act, NIST Special Publications 800-39
and 800-53.

15.0 Identity Authentication of Users

Agencies must decide the appropriate levels of openness, moderation, authentication and
attribution for use on Web 2.0 interfaces. Some form of identity authentication should be
utilized in dialogues of importance. For instance, the Government should not permit public
posting on a .gov website on a discussion on the treatment of serious health problems without
ensuring that the contributors are qualified medical professionals. Additionally, the
Government should adequately identify patrons before divulging any potentially personal
information. There is a balance between access, identity authentication, attribution, and
concern for authoritative sourcing in the level of moderation that is needed on a site. An
internal agency blog may not need additional identity vetting or moderating because the
contributor’s behavior is governed by their employment. Closed groups are also usually self
policing. However, a public facing blog generally would need more moderating and/or
identity and attribution management.

OMB Memo M-04-04 requires agencies to perform a standardized risk assessment on all
applications they put online. In addition to providing guidance on the required degree of
risk mitigation that must be designed into the online system, the risk assessment also
identifies the Level of Assurance (LOA) of identity the application should require from
an end user’s identity credential (userID/password pair, digital certificate or other identity
management technology) and provides recommendations on how to best implement the
required authentication processes.
Resources: OMB Memo M-04-04, NIST Special Publication 800-63.

     DRAFT Guideline for Using New Media (Web 2.0) by the United States Government

16.0 Federal Advisory Committee Act

Since many Web 2.0 technologies excel at enabling information sharing across the
Internet, government programs may use them to share ideas regarding current and future
plans, to gather opinions about a wide variety of issues and to strengthen the relationship
between citizens and their government. Depending on circumstances (such as targeting a
particular segment of experts for an online discussion of proposed policy), some of these
efforts, depending on how they are structured, may meet the functional definition of a
virtual or electronic advisory group and therefore fall under the purview of the Federal
Advisory Committee Act (FACA). Just because an advisory committee meeting is held
in virtual space instead of office space, it is not exempt from the government’s rules on
such activities.

Any advisory group, with limited exceptions, that is established or utilized by a Federal
agency and that has at least one member who is not a Federal employee, must comply
with the FACA. In general, when Government agencies seek input and suggestions from
the general public on various issues, FACA likely would not apply. However, if the
Government is managing and controlling the group in any way, such as selecting
members, setting an agenda, or consolidating results generated by the group of
participants, the group would fall within the bounds of FACA. To find out if a group
comes under the FACA, any individual may contact the sponsoring agency's Committee
Management Officer, or the GSA Committee Management Secretariat. Resource: FACA

17.0 Rulemaking

One of the big benefits of Web 2.0 tools is the ability to collaborate and share ongoing
processes online. These tools can allow citizens to participate in their Government by
providing an otherwise inaccessible channel to provide input. Web 2.0 technologies may
provide a medium to allow many ideas to be identified and easily discussed. However,
until regulations are changed, using new media does not relieve the agency from the
established process of public rulemaking which includes publication in the Federal
Register (electronically and on paper for those without computer access) and a public
comment period. The consolidated web presence for rulemaking is Regulations.Gov,
which provides views of all pending regulations, RSS feeds of new postings and permits
submission of comments. The site also permits the online reconciliation of all comments.

18.0 Records Management and Archiving

When using electronic media, whether it is a blog, a website, a wiki, email, or any other
type of electronic communications, the regulations that govern proper management and
archival of records still apply. Agencies need to evaluate their use of Web 2.0
technologies and determine the most appropriate methods to capture and retain records on

     DRAFT Guideline for Using New Media (Web 2.0) by the United States Government

both government servers and technologies hosted on non-Federal hosts. The National
Archives and Records Administration offers resources and guidance to agencies to ensure
proper records management.

An important implication of records management in the Web 2.0 context is the future
mobility of data. Whenever information is collected or stored by a non-Federal host or
on proprietary software there are inherent concerns over the control of the data. Web 2.0
vendors may utilize non-standard storage techniques or proffer resistance to aiding
competitors that could preclude the future exportability of the data to other carriers or
back to the Government itself. For example, Company A is awarded the initial contract
and encodes the information. One year later, Company B wins the same contract and
requests the data from Company A. Company A might not be able to transfer the data
due to software limitations, or may simply be unwilling to assist unless specific contract
terms were established to preempt these problems. Agencies must consider all of the
potential security and logistics concerns of future data transfers before entering into any
agreements to utilize Web 2.0 technologies.

 Resources: OMB Circular A-130, “Management of Federal Information Resources,”
section 8a4, Implications of Recent Web Technologies for NARA Web Guidance

19.0 Other Legal Issues

Federal agencies may utilize or contract with commercial providers who offer Web 2.0
technology services in support of program goals. When this happens, program managers
and executives must ensure that all technology-neutral procurement and contracting
requirements are met, as well as requirements specific to the program.

It is recommended that agency General Counsel be consulted prior to adopting online
services or signing any Web 2.0 technology-related contracts. Agencies and individual
agents need to be aware that accepting, on behalf of the government, a company’s Terms
of Use (TOU) or End User License Agreement (EULA) may constitute a legally binding
contract even if there is no financial transaction associated with the agreement. Many
agency employees may not realize the consequence of their actions while accepting TOU
agreements or EULA’s. For this reason, it is important to educate employees on the
potential gravity of their actions in accepting these agreements.

Selection of Tools: When selecting commercial tools or online services, agencies must
consider the selection process, and fair consideration of competing sources. In some
cases selection will include an acquisition process.

Terms of Use Agreements: When agency personnel accept a Terms of Use agreement to
access a website – they create an agreement that must be acceptable as a Federal
employee. The simple clicking of a button to accept the terms can be considered a
contract and has legal implications. Additionally, even the presence of a conspicuous

     DRAFT Guideline for Using New Media (Web 2.0) by the United States Government

Terms of Use link on a website may be sufficient enough to form a binding contract
(currently undecided by case law). Some Web 2.0 service providers are negotiating
special Federal Government “Terms of Use Agreements” and contracts to address our
special role and needs. Caution should be used when accepting these standard consumer

In addition, there are a few particular points that need emphasis:

Indemnification: Many Web 2.0 based sites have specific indemnification requirements
in their contract language for providers (government agencies would be considered
providers in this context). It is important that managers remember that Federal contracts
are not allowed to contain unlimited liability clauses unless there is specific statutory
authority to the contrary. Many default End User License Agreements (Users) and Terms
of Service Agreements (agencies) have unlimited liability clauses which raise concerns.
Until standard terms are established, agencies should consult their legal staff on these
issues. Resource: Anti-Deficiency Act

Jurisdiction and Venue: Some contracts (including Terms of Use Agreements) stipulate
that state or local laws are binding. A Federal agency is not subject to the jurisdiction of
state courts, which creates a material conflict of terms. In some instances the
jurisdictional conflict may be immaterial and can be resolved without issue, but in other
cases the conflict may invalidate part or all of the agreement. If a standard contract
stipulates that state or local laws are binding, agencies should consult their legal staff.

FOIA: Federal agencies must adhere to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and
consequently our IT partners that host information that may qualify as Federal record
must agree to make the records available if requested. It is best for this requirement to be
explicitly stated in any agreements between the Federal Government and any IT partners.

Advertising: The Federal Government and its agents are not permitted to commercially
advertise in any form, including any content found on websites hosted on the .Gov
domain. However, there is no prohibition from agencies utilizing non-Government
services that have embedded commercial advertising. It is important that these
advertisers do not specifically target Government visitors or in any way imply
Government endorsement, approval or acceptance by the juxtaposition of the
Government content and the advertisement.

20.0 Employee Use Considerations

Regardless of whether they act in their public or private capacities when operating as end
users on Web 2.0-related sites, Federal employee conduct on Web 2.0 collaborative sites
is bound by the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch and
other applicable standards. That standard explains that statements given in a hobby area

     DRAFT Guideline for Using New Media (Web 2.0) by the United States Government

such as stamp collecting – an area totally unrelated to an employee’s Federal position –
are presumed to represent only personal opinions. However, if an employee is
commenting in a field that is even remotely related to their position as a Federal
employee (subject matter or agency), then they must be aware of the presumption that
they are speaking with the clout of their employment. This presumption can lead to
problems when uninformed employees unknowingly make public statements.

It is important to note that Federal employees are required to avoid any actions creating
the appearance that they are violating the law or violating the above mentioned ethical
standards. This restriction includes the Hatch Act, which prohibits certain political
activities of Federal employees while in office. Agency Ethics Officials should be
contacted with any questions on these matters.

When using collaborative tools, employees need to distinguish between personal and
official activities, and to avoid the appearance of governmental endorsement when
conducting personal activities. Employees also need to avoid disclosing non-public
information in a virtual setting just as they would avoid disclosure in the normal pursuit
of their duties. Resource: Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive

Federal employees are also bound by their agency’s “Limited Personal Use of
Information Technology” policy. These policies are specifically designed to address the
personal use and file sharing technologies on government networks. Agencies are
required to monitor employee use of these technologies and enforce individual
compliance with agency policies. Resource: OMB M-04-26

21.0 Technology Infrastructure Impact
Agencies must consider the infrastructure needed to support some Web 2.0 technologies.
Text based communications generally require less bandwidth and are easier to support on
existing networks. Video and sound based feeds are potentially consumptive of agency
network resources and may require more bandwidth than is available – or a separate
network to prevent degradation of current services. The technology infrastructure
requirements should be considered in the overall costs and benefits analysis and planned
for before any Web 2.0 tool is adopted for agency use. Resource: OMB Circular A-130

22.0 For Further Information

Contact Dr. Peter Alterman, or (202)501-0202

     DRAFT Guideline for Using New Media (Web 2.0) by the United States Government

Appendix A – Resources

Anti-Deficiency Act

E-Government Act,

Executive Order 13166

     Commonly Asked Questions and Answers Regarding Executive Order 13166


FISMA (Title III of the E-Government Act)

Government Paperwork Elimination Act

Implications of Recent Web Technologies for NARA Web Guidance

Information Quality Act, Pub. L. No. 106-554

NIST Special Publication 800-39

NIST Special Publication 800-53

NIST Special Publication 800-63

OMB Circular A-130;

OMB Memo M-03-22

OMB Memo M-04-04

OMB M-04-26

OMB Memo M-05-04

     DRAFT Guideline for Using New Media (Web 2.0) by the United States Government

OMB Memo M-06-02

Paperwork Reduction Act

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act

Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch

U.S. Trademark Law


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