Who's the smartest of them all? Study ranks digital IQ of public-sector groups.

Five organizations, including three government entities, achieve Genius status

A manned flight to Mars might still be confined to science fiction, but NASA continues to explore the frontiers of cyberspace, going where no agency has gone before.

A study by the business schools at George Washington University and New York University, presented by digital innovation think tank L2, ranked 100 public-sector organizations — including government agencies, industry groups and advocacy groups — on its Digital IQ Index. The index factored in an organization’s website, digital marketing, social media presence and mobile compatibility.

NASA topped the charts with a digital IQ of 184, placing in the Genius category. Four other organizations also achieved Genius status: The White House (with an IQ of 158), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (149), the Army (145) and the Democratic National Committee (142). Below that, the categories ran from Gifted to Average, Challenged and Feeble, the last category having digital IQs below 70.

It’s not that surprising to see NASA at the top of the list. For years, the agency has had a lively website, which includes Hubble imagery and games for kids. And the agency regularly adds to the mix, with activities such as a social media-based scavenger hunt and the first tweets from space. NASA CIO Linda Cureton and some her colleagues have for several years held court in Second Life.

The purpose behind it is more than just fun and games, though. Scott Galloway, L2’s founder and a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business, wrote in an introduction to the report that the emerging power of the social Web makes digital competence an important factor in an organization’s effectiveness.

Agencies that don’t want to be left behind might do well to follow NASA’s example. It’s a new frontier for many of them, but it’s not rocket science.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is editor of Defense Systems. Follow him on Twitter: @KevinMcCaney.

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