3 Ideas on the Project MyGov Toolbar

Last week, the White House Presidential Innovation Fellowsannounced the launch of Project MyGov Toolbar.

In the end, it’s a pretty neat simple piece of technology that helps government collaborate with itself and improves the citizen experience finding government information.

I’m a huge fan & it fits into #4 of my 7 original ideas for Project MyGov – Show Related Government Information (plus it highlights my #3 as well – search, search, search)

It’s going to be a huge help for agencies to quickly collaborate (without a long MOU or management agreement) and cross-promote each other. For example, imagine being on a CDC H1N1 flu page, the MyGov toolbar at the bottom may also show relevant information on flu from HHS.gov or from the White House. That’s a big win for the end user & government.

As always, I have a couple ideas on what would make the toolbar even more awesome.

So here we go – my 3 Ideas on Improving Project MyGov Toolbar

1) Different formats – I like the footer toolbar format. It’s pretty clean and simple. However, some are not a fan of this format so I’d make sure to offer it in other formats – for example, I’m a big fan of Outbrain which shows related content right above the comment sections of blog posts. This should be pretty easy to do but I’d love to see the toolbar offered in 3-4 different formats and sizes that agencies can customize

2) Add Sign-up Feature – I think a key goal of any toolbar is to show visitors relevant information and also to encourage them to sign up for regular communication. That can be in the form of sign-up for email box or Facebook Like button – however it is super key. For example, check out Wibiya, the most successful toolbar company – see how it has a huge sign-up for email or Like Us on Facebook as call to action (see below)

3) Include State/Local Government – I’m not sure how the algorithm works to show related government information. However, it would be great if it included state and local government. It is great to show cross-federal related information but honestly the most relevant as citizen is the cross-jurisdictional information.

For example, if you are in Philadelphia reading a page on CDC and the flu, it would be great to see a related link to the City of Philadelphia flu shot location finder.

Kudos to the Project MyGov for a great piece of technology & I’m looking forward to seeing rapid adoption (agencies go sign-up for the beta).

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Greg Gershman

Thanks so much for taking a look at the Discovery Bar. Great suggestions!

In terms of different formats, all the data behind the Discovery Bar is powered by the Discovery API (documentation coming very, very soon), so any different view of the related data including in-page widgets is easily doable.

There will be much closer integration with the MyGov Account as we build out the bar service. We wanted to get something up and running as quickly as we could and having the bar act as a standalone tool at first was the quickest way to go. Stay tuned.

The bar shows up on all .gov, .mil and a few other domains. For those state/local govs that use the .gov TLD, the bar will show up. We are working on making a more complete list of local governments, this would be something that would be great to get help from the community with.

Hope that helps, any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch, and thanks for checking it out!


Very cool on API – figured as much.

On bar showing of on all .gov, .mil domains – will that happen automatically? That would be cool as hardest part is to get all gov’t agencies to go through internal hoops to get on.

Sounds like it’s coming w/ MyGov account but I do think #2 on making clear call to sign-up is key (email or Like)

If trying to find a list of all local governments, a good place to start are the companies Vision Internet & CivicPlus which power thousands of local gov sites

Greg Gershman

We’re working with agencies to get the bar on their site, but that will not happen automatically. If you install the bar as a browser extension or plugin, it will show up on all .gov and .mil, .si.edu, .fed.us and usps.com automatically. Getting all the state, local, tribal, etc. sites is going to be more complex, but that’s the goal.

Good tip on the list of local gov sites. Will check that out. Thanks!