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GSA Partners With Local, State Agencies on Notification Platform

The U.S. General Services Administration has chosen to collaborate with four states to pilot a text notification platform geared toward enhancing internal and external communication surrounding federal benefits services.

Using a smartphone for text messaging.
The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) recently partnered with four state and local governments to launch a text messaging pilot meant to streamline communication between agencies and the constituents they serve.

The GSA will collaborate with the city of Norfolk, Va.; Montgomery County, Md.; and the states of Wisconsin and Washington to pilot the new text messaging platform. Through the new platform, the agencies will be able to start sending customized text messages about application deadlines, interview reminders, fraud reduction and other critical service updates to people who opt in as well as their own agency staff.

“GSA's Technology Transformation Services' Public Benefits Studio will use to help federal, state and local entities ‘try on’ texting to reach citizens that are utilizing federal benefits with a lower commitment and barrier to entry,” a GSA spokesperson told Government Technology. “The objective of is to increase the number of federal agency programs using text messaging in addition to traditional communications channels.”'s user-friendly web interface allows agency partners to send individually tailored messages to those seeking government services just 10 minutes after the initial account setup. The Public Benefits Studio also provides resources to participating agencies including best practice guides and templates to boost message quality and analytics tools to assess campaign impact.

Throughout the pilot phase, GSA will collaborate closely with their agency partners to fine-tune user experience.

“We’re looking to our partners to provide feedback on the tool throughout the pilot process because their feedback will improve the product and the way we support them,” the spokesperson said.

The platform is one additional tool being used to better enhance government services in alignment with Executive Order 14058 on Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government. That order instructs agencies to “continually improve their understanding of their customers, reduce administrative hurdles and paperwork burdens to minimize 'time taxes,' and more directly meet the needs of the people of the United States."

Initiatives such as the Having a Child and Early Childhood project are also being supported through The pilot will explore how text messaging could improve government interactions with those who have experienced a notable life event, including being a new parent or those facing financial challenges and finding it burdensome to navigate a large number of state and federal benefits programs.

The new text platform prioritizes security by encrypting data as it traverses the service — only storing information on the platform for a minimal amount of time. The GSA also shared specific actions to instill user trust in the system.

“These include identifying the agency’s name that the user is texting in the initial text message and using a consistent short code or phone number for sending messages so that they are received as part of an ongoing, recognizable thread,” the GSA said.

While the pilots currently focus on federal benefits programs, the GSA shared that as they learn more about what agency partners need to effectively send text messages, data will inform if and how expands to additional programs in the future.
Ashley Silver is a staff writer for Government Technology. She holds an undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Montevallo and a graduate degree in public relations from Kent State University. Silver is also a published author with a wide range of experience in editing, communications and public relations.