Citizen Services Fund earns its keep -- and then some

The $34 million in investments produced $64 million in cost avoidance in fiscal 2012, officials say.

The $34 million Citizen Services Fund, which pays for tools such as a common template for writing federal purchase orders and the governmentwide Web interface, saved the government nearly twice that dollar figure in fiscal 2012, officials said.

The Citizen Services Fund pays for a large share of the work done by the General Services Administration’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies. The $64 million in savings comes largely from government agencies using free or low cost services provided by OSCIT rather than commercial alternatives and from eliminating duplicative government purchases, according to the office’s annual report published Wednesday.

OSCIT’s projects are also paid for with the E-Gov fund, which was appropriated at $12.4 million in 2012. E-Gov Fund initiatives “enable billions of dollars in long-term savings,” the report said, though it did not give a specific dollar figure.

The annual report focused largely on OSCIT’s success in raising the profile of government digital services. Here are some highlights:

  • The government’s search engine has more than doubled the number of federal websites it supports from 400 at the beginning of the year to 1,100 now. Traffic on the site is up 150 percent compared with the previous year.
  • Federal agencies signed 728 terms of service agreements with 58 social media providers and GSA negotiated new or updated agreements with Foursquare, Google Plus, Storify, Tumblr and other social sites. The agency’s new media division also launched a federal social media registry to verify the validity of government-managed social media profiles.
  • Officials working on the office’s First Fridays project to test the usability of federal websites tested and provided feedback on 26 sites, 61 percent more than in 2011.
  • The office relaunched its gallery of government-built mobile apps using responsive design so that the gallery itself can be viewed equally well on any device.

(Image via sar_38/