I always get a little nostalgic this time of the year. You see, this coming week, government web professionals (web managers and new media directors) across the country will gather in Washington DC for the annual 2 days of networking, listening to government leaders and web luminaries, and discussing exciting new ventures and directions, courtesy of Web Manager University (GSA) and the Federal Web Managers Council. I used to be among you, and I miss you guys. But that’s not my message here.
My message is this: you folks – you government web professionals – rock! And I hope that – just for a few minutes, while you’re gathered together- you’ll celebrate yourselves and each other and just how much you’ve done to improve the way government serves its customers. To the world you might be one person, but to citizens, you are the world.
Fifteen years ago, government agencies were just putting up their first primitive websites. Now, look what you’ve done. You’ve created vast resources that citizens can use, day and night, 7 days a week – from their homes, their offices, their cell phones – to help their families and themselves, to solve their problems, and to achieve their objectives. You’ve put government services online that citizens never even knew existed, and you’re constantly working to make them easier to find and use. You’ve turned complicated government-ese into information and directions that citizens can understand. You’ve brought government to the people, and now you’re even helping people become part of their government. You’ve put citizens first.
You’ve done all this in spite of a huge workload, ever-increasing (and often competing) demands, insufficient resources, and – sometimes – lack of top level support. You’ve fought to make your agencies deal with citizens from their point of view because you know your audience. You’ve found ways to work together, within your agencies and across agencies, to consolidate content and eliminate duplication and connect the dots, so citizens don’t have to struggle to figure out their often overwhelming government. You understand the importance of great customer service, and you knock yourselves out to deliver. Do you have more to do? Absolutely. But, oh my – look how far you’ve come. You’ve opened a whole new world of government services to citizens.
So as your former colleague, I say, “Bravo! Congratulations! Proceed until apprehended!” If you are attending the Government Web and New Media Conference this week, look around at these amazing, hard-working people and recognize their tremendous contributions and commitment to public service. Celebrate all you’ve achieved, individually and together. If you can’t go to the conference…heck, pat yourself on the back. And follow the proceedings on Twitter (follow @WebManagerU).
But more important…as one of the citizens who count on you to open government services to us, I say sincerely, “Thank you so very much, government web professionals.” To us, you are the world.