OpenGov National Archives

Open Government Plan 2016 - 2018

U. S. General Services Administration

New Flagship Initiative: Contact USA: The First Machine Readable Federal Government Contact Directory

For most citizens, the Federal government is a large and complex entity. There are more than departments and agencies and more than 350 component offices. For those not already familiar with the functions of the various agencies, it's difficult to decipher which agencies are responsible for a particular issue, and how to contact the right office within an agency.

The GSA, working in conjunction with the Office of Management and Budget, the National Archives and Records Administration, Office of Personnel Management and others, will produce a consolidated dataset of the names of federal agencies, component offices, and contact information.

While information about agencies, sub-agencies, hierarchical relationships, and contact information exist in various sources, there was no effort to merge the information into a structured dataset to make it easier for citizens to search for relevant offices and find the contact information they need.

Citizens may have to make hit-or-miss efforts to locate the information about the Federal agencies and components they need to contact and have to try several different websites or contact channels. Contact USA would be an extension of an existing National Action Plan commitment for a machine-readable organizational chart for the Federal Government and provide an up-to-date, comprehensive dataset of Federal agencies and component offices with contact information.

A comprehensive Federal Government directory would improve the functioning of all agencies by making it easier for citizens to locate the agencies and information or services they need. The Contact USA directory would enhance transparency, participation, and collaboration as citizens would not have to hunt for contact information from a variety of existing sources.

In addition to improving public access, a comprehensive directory would be useful to the Federal agencies themselves, by making it easier to locate other agencies/components for collaboration. As with the Federal agency organizational chart, GSA would work with OMB, NARA, OPM, and other Federal partners as needed to develop the dataset/directory.