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ASIST 2012 Annual Meeting 
Baltimore, MD, October 26-30, 2012 

Social Media and E-Government: A Case study Assessing Twitter As A Tool for Implementation Of The Open Government Directive
Kristene Unsworth and Adam Townes

Monday, 6:30pm


The first official order of business carried out by President Obama in 2008 was the presentation of a memorandum entitled Transparency and Open Government. Three pillars for Open Government are outlined in the document and consist of transparency, participation and collaboration which form the foundation for the initiative. Here we report on a case study, where the use of social media by the United States Department of Agriculture was assessed in relation to the agencies implementation of goals set by the Open Government Initiative. In the Open Government Initiative, the use of social media features strongly as a means to connect with the public and to promote the three pillars. We question whether use of social actually results in realization of the three pillars, but with a particular focus on dialogue between the USDA and the public. We apply a mixed-methods approach based in grounded theory, social network analysis, content analysis and discourse analysis. Early findings suggest that although the USDA is mentioned there is no clear evidence of discourse, in the sense of exchange of tweets between the USDA and other posters. This is assuming that anyone who may post from the USDA would do so under the auspices of the organization and not as an individual with a unique user name. Our research indicates that traditional definitions of these terms (transparency, collaboration and participation) may need to be expanded to account for the types of interactions occurring via social media. In this paper, we report on our research plan and initial observations.