The General Service Administration wants to make sure that when citizens come across government information on social media or other third-party platforms, they can be certain it’s valid and government-generated.
That’s the idea behind GSA’s new U.S. Digital Registry, launched Thursday and announced fittingly through a post on third-party blogging platform Medium — showing precisely the type of dissemination of information the federal government wants to make trusted through this new repository of validated non-governmental platforms.
This registry, essentially, will let agencies and the public confirm that digital communications hosted outside of federal websites are in fact from a federal agency — sort of like the blue checkmark on Twitter that confirms a celebrity’s account is not a satirist or impostor.
“Official government websites are easy to recognize because they end in domain names like .gov and .mil,” wrote Justin Herman, GSA SocialGov program lead. “Increasingly, however, citizens choose to access their services, ask questions and participate through third-party platforms like Facebook, Yelp, Twitter and Github … The rise of third-party platforms in delivering modern public services required us to rise beside them with greater means of maintaining accountability over official government accounts, and make it as easy to follow all public services as it was to find one.”
A handful of apps with government terms of service — like Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, Flickr, GitHub, Tumblr and so on — can currently be validated through the registry, and so far there are nearly 3,000 authenticated accounts from official U.S. government agencies, organizations and programs on the registry. Herman wrote that agencies are in the midst of a sprint to double that number by Feb. 29, and GSA hopes to add more platforms that can be validated every week.
“Citizens shouldn’t have to hunt for the critical information they need across bureaucratic silos and emerging platforms, or second guess if the person who is engaging with them on the other side of the connection is who they say they are,” Herman wrote. “The U.S. Digital Registry provides the data foundation you can use in order to help make these problems a thing of the past.”
GSA built an API, or application programming interface, so outside developers can help verify the large number of different third-party platforms and also build their own platforms on that trove of verified registry data. Likewise, the entire project is open source so other governmental bodies can adapt the registry for their own needs in verification.
Federal employees can now access the Digital Registry on the Office of Management and Budget’s OMB Max portal.