Twitter’s Big Hitters: The Top Feds on Social Media

Mike O'Brien

Social media rules our lives – very few people read newspapers and magazines on the commute to work, TV no longer seems to be the primary source of news and the days of a family sharing the Sunday paper seem to have long gone.

Instead, we rely on our mobile devices, tablets, laptops and desktops for just about everything.

So is the U.S. government addressing this issue? The answer, in part, is yes. President Obama briefly flirted with the Twitterati in a nationwide question and answer session a couple of years ago, but that was also televised and was largely seen as a photo opportunity.

Yet beneath him lies another layer of officials who use social media to get their departmental message across.

Stacey Acevero, Social Media Manager at PR and marketing firm Vocus, believes transparency is the driving force behind the need of senior public sector employees to have a social media presence.

She told "It shows that the organization is transparent, open to conversations and accessible. For those looking to voice opinions or share concerns (as many on social media are) this may provide relief to those looking to be heard. It also humanizes the organization and can help deter negative association by putting a face behind the logo."

Here are five feds with a fantastic following, as first identified by

1: Steven VanRoekel - Executive Office of the President @stevenvDC

He was appointed directly by the President of the United States and is only the second federal CIO.

He spent 15 years working at Microsoft before joining the government in 2009.

But despite his vast following, he keeps his thoughts to a minimum with a surprisingly low number of tweets.

Followers: 6,677

Following 305

Tweets: 323

Interests: Technology, Open Data.

2: Casey Coleman - General Services Administration @caseycoleman

She is the Chief Information Officer of the largest government agency and oversees a hefty $600 million IT budget.

Ms.Coleman is the brains behind the GSA blog and her tweets are largely focused on technology best practices and her love of physical fitness.

Followers: 5,570

Following: 3,351

Tweets: 2,000

Interests: IT, fitness, cycling, rescuing dogs.

3: Rick Holgate - Bureau of the ATF @rickholgate

Mr. Holgate is theCIO of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives and is also Assistant Director for Science & Technology. He describes himself as a "recovering engineer."

Followers: 1,501

Following: 1,373

Tweets: 1,842

Interests: Leadership, "Fine food and drink," adopting greyhounds.

4: Sonny Hashmi - Deputy Chief Information Officer, GSA @sonny_h

A self-proclaimed "multi-faceted geek," Mr. Hashmi works alongside Casey Coleman. He is "responsible for leveraging emerging technologies to improve GSA operations, drive IT modernization, and lead enterprise initiatives."

Followers: 1,956

Following: 1,4665

Tweets: 6,246

Interests: Gadgets, design, cloud computing.

5: Linda Cureton – Former NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center CIO @curetonl

Ms. Cureton was the CIO at NASA from 2009 until earlier this year when she became the CEO of Muse Technologies,a new start-up specializing in IT transformation. Before working as the principle advisor to the NASA Administrator, she held various other executive IT positions including Associate CIO at Department of Energy and Deputy CIO at Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

Followers: 5,301

Following: 312

Tweets: 1,724

Interests: Leadership, technology solutions, teaching piano, writing.

So what can we expect in the future from these techno innovators? Stacey Acevero says it’s not easy to predict what will be thenext development in social media.

She said: "There are so many new social networks out there that we’re struck by the ‘shiny object syndrome’ and jump on the bandwagon before ever evaluating what these social media presences can truly do for our brands or organizations.

"I think what many are hoping for is more in-depth data from the top networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube) on the audiences being reached that is deeper than demographics and examines what other things they ‘like’ on the web so that we can forge stronger relationships with these online audiences.

"Fostering those types of connections is key to utilizing social media as part of a proper brand strategy and later tying those connections to ROI."

Federal CIOs will be discussing the latest IT developments at IDGA's IT Legacy Modernization for Government summit in August. For details, go to