Today is a big day for GovLoop. I kind of feel like it is high school graduation. GovLoop has been my passion and my hobby for nearly 1.5 years. Now, I’ve found an exciting way to go full time with GovLoop so I can give this community the focus it deserves. I’ve linked up with an awesome small company called GovDelivery that works with hundreds of government entities at all levels of government in the U.S. and U.K.
By joining GovLoop and GovDelivery, I will be able to continue to lead GovLoop and will have more resources to support and improve the platform so the community can continue to grow.
I started GovLoop on Memorial Day 2008 with a simple idea – wouldn’t it be cool to have a place online where government innovators could connect and share best practices and ideas. And it wouldn’t matter if you are in DC, Alaska, or Paris. Wouldn’t matter if you are a fed or state or local; U.S., U.K., or Asia. Everyday I ran into a problem at my government agency that I knew someone in the government had dealt with and I was wondering why we weren’t connecting.
In just over a year, GovLoop grew from merely an idea to more than 18,000 members across all levels of government. During this growth, GovLoop was just a hobby. I had a 9 to 5 at DHS (with some amazingly supportive bosses) and GovLoop was my 5 to 9 (and weekends). People always asked how I had enough time to do both. The answer is I really didn’t. I spent countless hours in the coffee shop trying to keep pace with the growth which was at times overwhelming. My amazing lady had to deal with me obsessed on the computer nearly every waking moment outside of my job working on GovLoop. It just wasn't sustainable for the long-term and I needed to find a home and resources for GovLoop, a place to give it the care and feeding it needs, to be truly transformative in improving government
Everyday I would get countless questions from members or new opportunities around the world that were fascinating and needed responses. Some were mundane but important, “I can’t get X feature working on GovLoop. How do I do it?” Others were big strategic questions, “I’m from X agency and trying to implement a social network in my department. Do you have time to tell me how you did it?” These questions are important and essential, but my bandwidth was always small and I didn’t always have the time to respond.
And honestly, GovLoop isn’t about me. It’s about the community. And the community has kept GovLoop going. I’ve had an amazing group of GovLoop Community Leaders who’ve been the linchpin – welcoming new members, writing features like Members of the Week and Project of the Week, and letting me know when there are problems on the site. And there are thousands of members contributing every day – from writing a quick blog or commenting on a discussion to reaching out to a colleague with a question. I’ve met hundreds of members in person and honestly it is the best part of the whole process. I have a whole group of new friends through GovLoop – people like Andy Krzmarzick, Adriel Hampton, Steve Lunceford. I’ve also traveled from DC to Canada to Singapore because of GovLoop.
So I’m excited to announce that I’m going full-time on GovLoop as of this week. Social network leaders have told me 20,000 members is a tipping point and as I’ve been nearing that goal, I’ve known that GovLoop needs more resources. I’ve been trying to find a way to give GovLoop the resources it deserves and to ensure that it can continue to grow and continue to connect more people and more information to improve government. People always ask me, “What’s the future of GovLoop?” My answer is, “Everyday I hear 2-3 stories of how GovLoop connected government and helped solve a problem. I would love for that number to be 10-15 examples in one year and 30-40 in two years.” I think this move will allow GovLoop to reach those goals.
GovDelivery is a terrific partner in this arrangement. For those that don’t know, GovDelivery has done some amazing work helping improve government-to-citizen communication with a web-hosted (software as a service) solution for government at all levels. Government entities have used GovDelivery to send more than one billion messages already this year. They’re known for their emailing service, but in the last year, they’ve launched capabilities that allow cross-promotion of content between agencies, put out an impressive text messaging capability, launched widget and blogging capabilities, and won the Fed 100 award for their Social Media work. More importantly, they get me, get GovLoop, and get Gov 2.0. I’m a Midwest guy and have pretty simple honest Midwestern values and I think Scott Burns and the team at GovDelivery (based in Minnesota) does as well. They truly are good people who are passionate about public sector and are at the forefront of the changes around Gov 2.0 (c’mon – we met at Gov 2.0 Camp).
So the question is always...what does that really mean for GovLoop. Honestly, it will take a little time to figure it all out but here are some initial areas of focus for me:
* I’ll continue as President, Founder, and all-around Community Leader of GovLoop
* I’ll continue to be speaking and evangelizing about the power of Gov 2.0, community, social networks, and social media in government
* I will be more responsive (Craig Newmark-style) in responding to the questions and concerns of the community
* Planning to launch more features and resources
* Planning to launch more GovLoop Meetups in local areas
* Assembling an advisory board made up of key members of the community so we have as much guidance and input as possible on how to improve
* Promoting giving back as part of the GovLoop mission and the mission of the community to build on the great work already done by the GovLoop Kiva group that has given thousands of dollars to micro-loans
* Ensuring a foundation for GovLoop. It will be around for a long-time and you don’t have to worry about it going away
* Working on ways to leverage GovDelivery’s reach and technology to promote and improve GovLoop
I’m third-generation public servant and public service is in my blood. My father and step-mother worked at IRS. My step-sister works for EPA and step-brother at VA. My sister, mother, and girlfriend are teachers and my grandfather worked for the Postal Service. I believe the public sector is tackling the most important issues facing the world from environment to health care to security and we need to ensure that we keep the great talent we already have and recruit the best and the brightest.
I’m committed to public service and it’s at the heart of the mission of GovLoop – to connect government to improve government. As GovLoop grows, I promise to stay committed to that mission and work hard to continue to connect and share that wisdom to ensure that we have a truly great government.
As always, feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns (or send thanks to my patient girlfriend). I’m always happy to help out as well if you are working on a Gov 2.0 initiative in an agency and want to pick my brain or get thoughts based on my experience with GovLoop.
I'll be hosting an online chat at GovLoop tomorrow from 10-11am EST. I'd love to hear your feedback, ideas for the future of GovLoop, and any questions or concerns. I'll be there to listen, learn, and share.