Federal agencies that want to set up a Twitter account or use a wiki to engage with the public often face lengthy delays while ensuring compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act, a 1995 law that requires justification of any activity that involves gathering information from the public, but doesn’t address the unique nature of online collaboration tools created in the last 15 years.
Recently, the Obama Administration issued a memorandum (PDF) that will reduce paperwork and approval delays associated with using online tools, including Twitter, blogs, and wikis, to engage with the public:
Federal wiki pages can encourage interactions between the public and officials at federal agencies without running afoul of the law. (But wikis that are used to gather specific data — like a compliance spreadsheet — are still covered.) [Online seminars] can happen without triggering the PRA requirements, the document says, along with “blogs, discussion boards, forums, message boards, chat sessions, social networks, and online communities.”