The Department of State has a strong record of experimentation with Web 2.0 technologies. This includes creating a number of social networking sites (ex. Exchanges Connect and State Alumni Network), participating in virtual communities (ex. Second Life), and launching mobile applications (ex. Haiti widget). Of these various examples, the ones with the most impact are those that leverage public - private partnerships (ex. Google's contribution on the development of the Haiti widget). The Department should institutionalize these partnerships to a larger degree and better leverage private and academic partners to innovate new ways to connect with foreign citizens on issues such as culture and science. The Department also should take account of projects that have failed (ex. X-Life Games) and pool the funding of disparate efforts so that the Department can launch two to three big projects a year. Finally, the Department should use social media and crowdsourcing technology to solicit public feedback and new ideas from the target audience (ex. foreigners) for all big projects prior to their implementation to better determine the probability of success. This should be baked into a new agile procurement and development process which would enable the more rapid development of solutions.
Idea No. 38