Gov Loop Point Oh

This past Tuesday, I had the pleasure of meeting some of the GovLoop team in their Washington, DC, office (missed you, Andy!).

We talked a lot about the design before I had to leave early; nine-month old twins puts a crimp in your night life. And one of the things that struck me was an off-hand comment made by one of the GovLoopers, Lauren, I think. She said something like “Latest Activity is fine for a community of 30-thousand, but maybe not 100 million.”

I got to thinking: I don’t know that GovLoop should aspire to be a community of 100 million. I think it would lose its government focus. But even keeping that focus, it could easily appeal to, say, 100 thousand people. And then I got to asking myself two questions:

  1. What features should GovLoop offer that would help it draw in 3 times as many members as it has now?
  2. Once it begins to achieve that kind of scale, what features should it offer to its members that institutionalize the community, making it an essential part of the government ecosystem?

In this post, I want to try answering the first question only. I’ll get to the next question in another article.

So part of that question is figuring out who are these 70 thousand people who should be using GovLoop and aren’t yet (since we’re already 30 thousand on our way to the goal). I think the audience breaks down like this:

  • Federal government employees
  • State and local government employees
  • Government Contractors

And what could GovLoop offer to each of these audience? Here are five possibilities:

  1. Idea Share – This space would be a message board for process-oriented suggestions geared toward removing some of the bureaucracy from office operations and making worklife easier for employees. This is where people could suggest initiatives like locating a bike-share rack outside their offices, streamline basic office procurement, or discuss steps they took that made moving offices easier.

  2. Who’s Like Me – Even though each government agency comes up with its own job titles, a lot of job descriptions overlap. I’d like to see in the profile page a number of fields (say, ten) in which people can enter key words from their job descriptions. Then they can look for matches ‘graded’ according to how many of the fields in others’ profiles match their own. That would go a long way to helping people create their own networks within the larger GovLoop community.

  3. Find a Vendor – This feature would work in two directions: it would allow government employees to post RFPs or even something far less formal, like “hey, does anyone do X.” Vendors could then reply to those posts. Likewise, government contractors could post their own profiles–again, with fields for key words–that government employees could browse to see if a vendor met their requirements.

  4. You can DO THAT?! – I envision this as the corollary to Idea Share. Where Idea Share is more about how to make government work easier/more effective, this is more for discussing what we’re actually accomplishing. It’s for cool programs that people either initiate, manage, or in some cases salvage, and turn into successes that other offices can replicate.

    As with all other features, this one would have a lot of data fields, so people could find the kinds of programs that are relevant to them (examples include: Type (environmental / outreach / health / infrastructure / emergency response / education) Level (federal / state / county / municipal) and others.

  5. Make It Happen – Like an ‘events’ feature, this section would allow people to plan for semi-official (or even official-official) events, with tools to indicate who will be fulfilling specific roles, what tools or items are needed, and what the goal or outcome the event is trying to achieve. This feature could have been used for GovLoop’s meeting this past Tuesday, or for an informal brain-storming session among govvies from municipal and county levels looking to find new ways to fill potholes or institute a teleworking program.

Of course, I’d like to see some improvements on the current features, as well. The blogging tool seems especially ripe for an upgrade.

What are others’ ideas of tools that can help the community use GovLoop to help them do their work and make it appealing to a larger circle of people who share the tight focus of the extant (and awesome) site?

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Andrew Krzmarzick

Thanks, Gadi! Great ideas! We have a bunch of stuff in the works…in the meantime, wondering if we can use current functionality to achieve some of these suggestions:

1 – Idea Share How / Can this happen more effectively in our Forums or Groups?

2 – Who’s Like Me – We started working on something like this related to geography – a mashup of sorts that maps GovLoop members by city…in the meantime, we created this page, making it easy to find folks in their area. Another thing I’d like to do that gets at your suggestion is to create a similar page, but make it by Title. It would take some time and effort, so if there are any volunteers (or smart developers who could do something with our data!) interested in that project, let me know!

3 – Find a Vendor – I think this in the works, too…but don’t want to say too much more… 🙂

4 – You Can Do THAT? – Our Projects of the Week and the GovLaunch series start to get at this one, but we could create something more akin to a dataset with these…again, bandwidth required to enter those into a dataset! Best if the rest is crowdsourced over time, right?

5 – Make It Happen – I like the idea of just using our Events section more effectively for this kind of thing…until we can develop something more robust.

Again, thanks for getting the ball rolling on this conversation, Gadi!