To the USDA:

Barack Obama won the presidency, in large part, because of his ability to harness the power of social media. He did not shy away from Facebook or MySpace in fear of repercussion or negative feedback. He created an organic, powerful movement by engaging his supporters often, with the tools they already use on a daily basis.

In a memorandum, he sent you this:

Government should be transparent. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset. My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use. Executive departments and agencies should harness new technologies to put information about their operations and decisions online and readily available to the public. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public feedback to identify information of greatest use to the public.

Government should be participatory. Public engagement enhances the Government’s effectiveness and improves the quality of its decisions. Knowledge is widely dispersed in society, and public officials benefit from having access to that dispersed knowledge. Executive departments and agencies should offer Americans increased opportunities to participate in policymaking and to provide their Government with the benefits of their collective expertise and information. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public input on how we can increase and improve opportunities for public participation in Government.

Government should be collaborative. Collaboration actively engages Americans in the work of their Government. Executive departments and agencies should use innovative tools, methods, and systems to cooperate among themselves, across all levels of Government, and with nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals in the private sector. Executive departments and agencies should solicit public feedback to assess and improve their level of collaboration and to identify new opportunities for cooperation.”

What is more transparent, participatory, or collaborative than allowing your hard-working government employees to engage in conversations with the public, and each other, via social media? Why do you not allow your employees to use tools like Facebook or MySpace at work? Tools the President based his campaign around. Tools he still uses today. What are you so scared of?

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Agreed….the good thing is that progress is starting to be made with items like the Open Government Directive – but the downside is change is hard and there are still many agencies that block Facebook while at the same time the President is spreading his message on huge topics with FB/Twitter chats. Hopefully we’ll see government open up access to their employees more and more over time…