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Why Transportation Security Administration’s Blog Is A Model For Blogging.Gov

April 12th, 2009 · No Comments

Slate has a good article, “U.S. Department of Blogging: What The Rest of the Government Can Learn from the TSA” by Christopher Beam in which he argues that the Transportation Security Administration’s blog Evolution of Security is a model for governmental blogging, particularly in its interaction with the public. (As readers of this blog know, I agree. In fact, in his piece, Beam links to a post I wrote last month about TSA’s trailblazing social media effort.) Beam writes:

The Transportation Security Administration might be America’s least favorite federal agency. For every discarded 4-ounce bottle, dropped laptop, or missed flight, a furious traveler stands ready to heap abuse on the next TSA employee he sees. And it is the job of Bob Burns, official TSA blogger, to take it. ”Do I get beat up? Oh, yes, definitely,” Burns says. “You have to have thick skin and realize that people do need an outlet to vent and get rid of frustrations.” The Transportation Security Administration’s blog, Evolution of Security, is everything the TSA is not-lighthearted, informative, responsive, and devoted to the needs and concerns of its customers. It may also be the best model for government to engage citizens over the Web.

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Beam says the TSA’s blogging initiative is successful because there is sincere reader interaction and the blog has the power to get action:  

When some travelers missed their flights last year because their MacBook Airs looked suspicious under an X-ray, Burns created a video explaining why that’s the case. After that, security officers-many of whom read the blog-knew what to look for…The worst thing an agency blog can do, on the flipside, is write at readers…When Evolution of Security commenters complained about having to remove all electronics from carry-on bags during screening in certain airports, the TSA put a stop to it. When they kvetched about long lines, the agency created a new express-lane program…The direct line from the comments section to the top brass isn’t just good business; it also builds goodwill.

“And if there’s one thing the TSA experiment has shown, it’s that engagement doesn’t sacrifice authority,” Beam concludes, “It enhances it.”

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Tags: Government Web Sites · Preparedness 2.0 · Preparedness Lessons

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