Was I unfair to GSA? Maybe a bit, but…

Thursday - 3/19/2009, 8:33am EDT

I’ve received a number of calls and e-mails about yesterday’s post about GSA halting the use Facebook as a collaboration application.

This is typical:

I think the headline isn’t quite accurate and conveys the wrong message. We aren’t using facebook but we are using another tool that was made available immediately with all kinds of support and resources.  GSA absolutely does support collaboration and I don’t think you can equate “no more facebook” with not supporting collaboration.

And to be fair, in my original post, I should have specifically noted that, like many agencies, there are real pockets of innovation at GSA… GSA CIO Casey Coleman’s public blog … the USA.gov and GSA’s office of citizen services are doing some innovative things… and, of course, the leaders of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, Jim Williams and Tyree Varnado, encourage collaboration and have worked to enable that. (ASIDE: I don’t know if either Williams nor Varnado… or other GSA leaders, for that matter… are on Facebook or GovLoop or are using any of the other Web 2.0 tools. I would encourage them to at least put their toes in the water and try it, as I do most people. These tools are very simple — and they can be fun. And very quickly they provide a glimpse at the power of collaboration.)

But the opportunity to use Facebook as a collaborative environment. I think one of the important trends we are seeing is using tools that people already use. (The fact is that people probably are already using it as a collaboration tool anyway. If if you can capture that… it’s very powerful.)

One of the people who chided me was Mary Davie, assistant commissioner for GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service’s Office of Assisted Acquisition Services. She notes that GSA, in fact, is working to enable another tool that will allow people to collaborate. I’m thrilled to hear that.

There isn’t as much collaboration around procurement — and it seems that this can and should be a huge opportunity across government. There are so many lessons to be learned and shared, particular as the stimulus money starts flowing.

So I think I ended up kicking GSA… when I meant to simply poke ‘em, to use the Facebook vernacular. I still believe it is a missed opportunity to encourage collaboration in an area where it is desperately needed… and I think this was an exceedingly low risk, but I’m thrilled to hear that this is not the entire story.