There’s an old joke among Washington’s geekier set: the Government Accountability Office doesn’t issue reports, they escape.
Translation: They’re obscure. Get it?
But the notoriously publicity-averse agency — which performs audits and research for Congress — is attempting to leap into the national conversation. On Tuesday, it’s unveiling an initiative aimed at injecting all that fun data and analysis that it so painstakingly generates into the Twittersphere, an arena that could probably benefit from fewer links to cat videos and more, say, comprehensive, 61-page treatises on food recalls.
“News breaks all the time, and conversations spring up online to discuss the topics in play. In many cases GAO has conducted work on the very issues being discussed — work that could add significant value to these conversations,” wrote Chuck Young, the director of the GAO’s Office of Public Affairs, in an internal announcement of the initiative, jazzily dubbed “GAO Plugged In.” (Never mind that much tweeting is done from wireless devices).
The way the higher-ups envision it will work is that if an analyst notices a big story in the media that’s related to a recent GAO report, he or she is “empowered” to suggest a tweet to the Office of Public Affairs. The PR mavens will review and approve the message, then send it out.
Adding a little fact-driven GAO gravitas to the discussion du jour isn’t a bad idea, but it is prompting a few laughs about how the new effort will jibe with the organization’s traditionally lumbering pace. “Since GAO is so timely in getting reports out, there should be very little difficulty in submitting, reviewing, approving, and disseminating tweets,” one source deadpanned.