Memorandum M-10-23, Guidance for Agency Use of Third-Party Websites and Applications



This Memorandum requires Federal agencies to take specific steps to protect individual privacy whenever they use third-party websites and applications to engage with the public.

In the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, issued on January 21, 2009, the President called for the establishment of “a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration.”The President emphasized that “knowledge is widely dispersed in society, and public officials benefit from having access to that dispersed knowledge.” Following the President’s memorandum, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued the Open Government Directive, which required a series of concrete steps to implement the system of transparency, participation, and collaboration.

On April 7, 2010, OMB issued several guidance documents responding to the Open Government Directive. One such guidance — the most relevant to this Memorandum — is Social Media, Web-Based Interactive Technologies, and the Paperwork Reduction Act. That memorandum focuses on the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) in connection with social media and web-based interactive technologies; it explains that without triggering the PRA, agencies may use such media and technologies to promote open government in many ways.

Like the April 7, 2010 guidance and OMB’s Guidance for Online Use of Web Measurement and Customization Technologies, this Memorandum recognizes that open government increasingly relies on Federal agency uses of new technologies, such as social media networks and web 2.0 applications. Such uses offer important opportunities for promoting the goals of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. However, increased use of these technologies also requires greater vigilance by Federal agencies to protect individual privacy

The purpose of this Memorandum is to help Federal agencies to protect privacy, consistent with law, whenever they use web-based technologies to increase openness in government. As explained below, the Memorandum builds on OMB’s existing guidance; it calls for transparent privacy policies, individual notice, and a careful analysis of the privacy implications whenever Federal agencies choose to use third-party technologies to engage with the public.