Federal Faces: Martha Dorris

August 26, 2013

Martha Dorris

Position: Deputy associate administrator, Office of Citizen Services, General Services Administration (GSA)

Best known for: Dorris has been a driving force behind using technology to help citizens more easily obtain federal government services and information — whether the contact comes through a Web site, e-mail, telephone calls or social media. Dorris created a brand and a following for USA.gov and the ­Spanish-language version, ­GobiernoUSA.gov, the most comprehensive federal Web portals for government information and services. These sites received 50 million visits in fiscal 2012. Links and information on the USA.gov FAQ page, Answers.USA.gov, help answer the top 10 questions from the public, such as how small businesses can find resources, how to look for a job and how to get or replace a Social Security card.

Dorris oversaw the creation of Challenge.gov, a crowdsourcing platform that helps agencies solve problems, and launched ­USASearch, a powerful, commercial-grade Internet search engine used on agency Web sites that enables users to find documents, images and other information. In addition, Dorris has played a key role in consolidating government information channels and moving them to the cloud to save money on equipment and maintenance. She also oversees a federal hotline during emergencies, such as the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, and Hurricane Sandy. Callers to 1-800-FED-INFO get timely information from a GSA call center at all hours during crises, including from citizens overseas.

Government work: Dorris has spent three decades at the GSA in various roles, including overseeing acquisition of information technology resources, having a hand in the original federal e-government Internet initiative and for the past nine years employing new advances in technology to improve interaction with the public.

Motivation for service: Dorris said she is driven by a desire to make it as easy as possible for citizens to interact with the government. “Nothing makes me more frustrated than talking to a citizen and hearing about a negative encounter with government,” she said.

Biggest challenge: Keeping her GSA team focused on the mission at hand during turbulent times, including the numerous budget crises, funding reductions and the negative publicity that occasionally occurs regarding the government and its employees.

Quote: “I’m proud that my work provides solutions to agencies so they can deliver better and more efficient service to the public. My goal is that the government is a leader in customer service similar to Starbucks’s reputation.”

— From the Partnership for Public Service

For a full profile, go to The Fed Page at washingtonpost.com/politics/
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