WASHINGTON — NASA is supporting the White House’s Open Government Directive with a number of Internet-based programs designed to make the agency more accessible and create a dialog with the American people about their space program.

NASA is one of six departments and agencies working to spur innovation by making it easier for high-tech companies to identify collaborative, entrepreneurial opportunities. Government agencies are home to treasure troves of data and information, too much of which is underutilized by the private sector because it is either not easily found or exists in cumbersome formats. NASA and the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration in the Department of Health and Human Services, the Agricultural Research Service in the Department of Agriculture, the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the Department of Commerce and the Department of Energy are working together to increase access to information on publicly-funded technologies that are available for license, opportunities for federal funding and partnerships, and potential private-sector partners.

NASA’s Innovative Partnerships Programs Office is working to establish an RSS feed to publicize technologies available for public licensing. By making information from multiple agencies available in RSS and XML feeds on Data.gov, the government empowers innovators to find the information they need and receive real-time updates, which can fuel entrepreneurial momentum, create new jobs, and strengthen economic growth. NASA’s RSS feed will make these opportunities more visible to the commercial and research communities. NASA plans on having the feed operational by Dec. 31.

NASA also has undertaken an extensive effort to use the Internet and social media tools to engage the public on agency activities. NASA’s home page on the Internet, www.nasa.gov, offers information on all of the agency’s missions, research and discoveries.

In January 2009, nasa.gov capitalized on the agency’s growing social media efforts by rolling out a new “Connect and Collaborate with NASA” page, at www.nasa.gov/connect. This provides the public with quick connections to the agency’s pages on Twitter, Facebook, UStream, YouTube, Flickr and MySpace, as well as NASA podcasts and vodcasts on iTunes. The page also provides links to agency chats, Tweetup events, RSS feeds and the agency’s official blog.

The agency’s social media presence was further expanded in November with the addition of NASA’s Twitter feed to the homepage. The website offers links to NASA-related desktop “widgets” and opportunities for the public to collaborate directly with the agency through art contests, engineering challenges and imagery and data analysis.

Another new communication tool is Spacebook, a NASA internal expert networking utility. Spacebook has been used to improve collaboration across NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The Spacebook site allows new and established NASA staff to get to know the agency’s diverse community of scientists, engineers, project managers and support personnel.

“Space doesn’t explore itself. Science doesn’t discover itself. People do that, and to do that they have to talk,” said Emma Antunes, the project manager who also manages Goddard’s Web site. “They have to trade questions and ideas. They have to connect. And, the more diverse the group, the more likely connections and conversations will lead to new ideas and innovation. Spacebook will enhance NASA’s capacity to do just that.”

For more information about NASA’s use of the Internet and social media to interact with America, visit: http//www.nasa.gov/connect

For more information about NASA and agency programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov