US Navy Safe and Effective Use of Social Media

7 views
Skip to the first unread message

David Lawson

unread,
4 Feb 2010, 17:30:1804/02/2010
to gov20c...@googlegroups.com
If the US Navy can set useful usage rule then surely the Australian government can emulate:

chris...@grapevine.net.au

unread,
4 Feb 2010, 18:06:4804/02/2010
to gov20c...@googlegroups.com, gov20c...@googlegroups.com
Hi David

Yes and no

It's an odd situation where a) the US Gov uptake of social media has been
far more rapid than ours and b) the US military in particular recognises
that personnel deployed OS in the field are going to use social networking
as a means of staying on contact with "home" as well as personnel in
similiar situations, they have been one of the earliest adopters of a SM
policy for personnel.

The no part stems from recognising that a) the military personnel operate
under very strict disclosure guidelines that have been in place for
decades - obviously you don't reveal classified or sensitive information.
The concept of the "Public Affairs" war is also very old there. Within
that existing framework it becomes a lot easier for them to issue
guidelines around SM use because certain assumptions are already made
around communication with the Public.

From a serviceman/employee point of view, a) the penalties for
misuse/leaking information/badmouthing the service in thier case are so
high (jail or worse in some cases, dishonourable discharge, lose your
pension/super etc) and b) the nature of the information knowledge that
these personnel deal with on a constant basis makes the stakes a lot
higher than ours - if they do something wrong, people can die.

In the Australian Public Service context, people aren't (we would hope)
going to die over SM misuse. You might lose your job, but you won't serve
jail time (unless you use SM to transmit classified information etc). At
the worst, you bring the APS into disrepute, might expose the gov to legal
action over bad advice, or damage the Gov or a Minister politically.

In general it can be said that Military procedure is very black and white,
with little room for grey. The opposite applies in the APS context -
everything is grey, everything is transient - that is the nature of the
political and beuracratic environment we work in. The fact that we now
have a SM use framework in place this early into the Gov 2.0 effort says a
lot - its a massive cultural change and a big step forwards, and one that
has happened reletively quickly in the grand scheme of things.

IMO as always

Chris

> If the US Navy can set useful usage rule then surely the Australian
> government can emulate:
> http://www.slideshare.net/USNavySocialMedia/us-navy-safe-and-effective-use-of-social-media?from=share_email
>

> --
> You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups
> "Gov2.0Australia" group.
> To post to this group, send an email to gov20c...@googlegroups.com.
> To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
> gov20canberr...@googlegroups.com.
> For more options, visit this group at
> http://groups.google.com/group/gov20canberra?hl=en-GB.
>
>


Craig Thomler

unread,
6 Feb 2010, 21:19:4106/02/2010
to Gov2.0Australia
A grey world necessitates greater trust, support and education to help
people make the right decisions. I'd love to see examples of
government agencies training their staff on social media or providing
someone to call when staff are unsure how to proceed.

A few APSC courses would be brilliant as well - provided they draw on
presenters who know what they are doing.

An APSC course for SES regarding social media risk and facilitation
within their departments would be even more brilliant (again ensuring
it is led by the right people).

Perhaps our community needs to develop a framework and approach the
APSC about running courses in this area?

Issuing guidelines or directives is only the first stage of the
process. Without proactive support and engagement change is much
harder.

Cheers,

Craig

Stephen Collins

unread,
6 Feb 2010, 21:27:2606/02/2010
to gov20c...@googlegroups.com
Craig

On Sun, Feb 7, 2010 at 1:19 PM, Craig Thomler <craig....@gmail.com> wrote:
> A grey world necessitates greater trust, support and education to help
> people make the right decisions. I'd love to see examples of
> government agencies training their staff on social media or providing
> someone to call when staff are unsure how to proceed.

That would be a near-ideal situation. Just knowing where to turn is a
move in the right direction and provides much clarity.

> A few APSC courses would be brilliant as well - provided they draw on
> presenters who know what they are doing.

Also a good idea. The APSC already provides many great course, either
on their own or through trusted providers. This seems like a logical
next step.

> An APSC course for SES regarding social media risk and facilitation
> within their departments would be even more brilliant (again ensuring
> it is led by the right people).

Particularly for SES and EL level management so they can provide the
right sort of leadership on these things.

> Perhaps our community needs to develop a framework and approach the
> APSC about running courses in this area?

I don't mean to pitch, but surely a group consisting of known, public
sector savvy providers - acidlabs, Headshift, etc. - working with
knowledgeable insiders like you, Tom Burton, others, would be a great
way of putting together a range of training pitched at SES and then
all the way down the chain to doers in the agencies.

> Issuing guidelines or directives is only the first stage of the
> process. Without proactive support and engagement change is much
> harder.

I should have this on a tape (mp3?) - governance, skills, support,
training, mentoring (wash, rinse, repeat).

SC
--
Stephen Collins
tr...@acidlabs.org | +61 410 680722 | @trib

acidlabs | Conversation. Collaboration. Community. | www.acidlabs.org

This email is: [ ] bloggable [X] ask first [ ] private

Kylie Johnson

unread,
6 Feb 2010, 21:45:4906/02/2010
to gov20c...@googlegroups.com
Stephen, I can record it onto mp3 for you...I'll even put music under
it!

The SES course is a great idea and the best way forward.

Sent from my iPhone

Andrew Boyd

unread,
7 Feb 2010, 02:04:0507/02/2010
to gov20c...@googlegroups.com
On Sun, Feb 7, 2010 at 1:27 PM, Stephen Collins <tr...@acidlabs.org> wrote:
>> Perhaps our community needs to develop a framework and approach the
>> APSC about running courses in this area?
>
> I don't mean to pitch, but surely a group consisting of known, public
> sector savvy providers - acidlabs, Headshift, etc. - working with
> knowledgeable insiders like you, Tom Burton, others, would be a great
> way of putting together a range of training pitched at SES and then
> all the way down the chain to doers in the agencies.

Hi Steve,

without cultural sensitivity, there can be no effective engagement
with the wider APS. I've yet to see a "social media guru" (or the
latest incarnation, the Gov2.0 guru) engage without telling people
that they are silly for worrying about house rules (such as the Code
of Conduct) - regardless of what the PSC says or doesn't say, people
do get slapped for being seen to speak out of turn. I'm not saying
it's right, just saying that it does happen - and for the career
public servant, the perception of being "not a team player" has to be
avoided.

Aiming at SES is a good start. I'd argue that change has to happen in
the heart to be effective - and that starting with an attitude of
superiority (not your problem, thankfully) is to be avoided.

As an aside - when did Gov2.0 become that established that we have gurus anyhow?

Best regards, Andrew

--
---
Andrew Boyd
http://uxbookclub.org -- connect, read, discuss

Stephen Collins

unread,
7 Feb 2010, 02:22:4107/02/2010
to gov20c...@googlegroups.com
On Sun, Feb 7, 2010 at 6:04 PM, Andrew Boyd <fac...@gmail.com> wrote:
> without cultural sensitivity, there can be no effective engagement
> with the wider APS. I've yet to see a "social media guru" (or the
> latest incarnation, the Gov2.0 guru) engage without telling people
> that they are silly for worrying about house rules (such as the Code
> of Conduct) - regardless of what the PSC says or doesn't say, people
> do get slapped for being seen to speak out of turn. I'm not saying
> it's right, just saying that it does happen - and for the career
> public servant, the perception of being "not a team player" has to be
> avoided.

And that's absolutely a part of the path that needs to be taken.
Culturally sensitive crossing of the gap between where the "could be"
is and where the "as is" now. That's culture, governance, permission,
skills; all.

> Aiming at SES is a good start. I'd argue that change has to happen in
> the heart to be effective - and that starting with an attitude of
> superiority (not your problem, thankfully) is to be avoided.

Hell yes.

> As an aside - when did Gov2.0 become that established that we have gurus anyhow?

I am avoiding swearing here, so the polite answer is never. As Justin
Kerr-Stevens noted last week (per the UK situation) the prevalence of
self-named gurus and ninjas is bothersome in the extreme. Gurus and
ninjas ought never be self-described and only very rarely by others.

Steve

Andrew Boyd

unread,
7 Feb 2010, 02:31:4607/02/2010
to gov20c...@googlegroups.com
On Sun, Feb 7, 2010 at 6:22 PM, Stephen Collins <tr...@acidlabs.org> wrote:
>> As an aside - when did Gov2.0 become that established that we have gurus anyhow?
>
> I am avoiding swearing here, so the polite answer is never. As Justin
> Kerr-Stevens noted last week (per the UK situation) the prevalence of
> self-named gurus and ninjas is bothersome in the extreme. Gurus and
> ninjas ought never be self-described and only very rarely by others.

I am with you and Mr Kerr-Stevens on this one. Like the roshi said -
"if you see the Buddha on the road, kill him" (or words to this
effect) - we are all responsible for our own lives, and our own
careers - and change will not come through gurus or ninjas or magic
formulae, but through the hard work and perseverance of many ordinary
people who care enough to make a difference.

Chris Beer

unread,
7 Feb 2010, 04:57:0007/02/2010
to gov20c...@googlegroups.com
We should of course remember that will all communications with the
public, using any medium, there are usually fairly straighforward
guidelines in place that would suffice with SM. When in doubt, refer it
to a Strategic or Corporate Communicaitons area, your boss, etc etc. In
that sense, SM guidelines are already effectively in place. Thus, on the
face of it, an obvious first step forwards would be to integrate SM into
the current Comms areas of Deptartments - include the training for those
already working in call centres or who handles web/email enquiries -
really - there isn't much difference.

Now that assumes an official use in an official context from an
identified officer. In the case of APS employees using SM on a personal
level - the rules are also there. It's the APS code of conduct and
associated guideance - its only the technology we need to give training
on really.

Look - at the end of the day we have two options. The first is to laud
SM as a cool new thing, with its own rules and methods. This will scare
most of the PS, SES not-with-standing. The other option is to recognise
SM for what it is - just another form of communicating with the public.
And that is something the APS has always done, and always will do. Our
existing training and framework just need updating IMO, and as soon as
people begin to realise that SM is no different from giving advice or
opinion over the phone, I think the more seamless and less painful, the
transition into the new media types will be.

PS: Check John Sheridan @ AGIMO's tweet history - he points to his own
activities on SM in an official capacity as a good example - and he's
right - good, sound advice given in a professional manner, and with full
disclosure on ID. Will post the link/tweet when I dig it out.

IMO as always

Chris

Kerry

unread,
7 Feb 2010, 17:37:0607/02/2010
to Gov2.0Australia

On Feb 7, 8:57 pm, Chris Beer <chris-b...@grapevine.net.au> wrote:
>
> Look - at the end of the day we have two options. The first is to laud
> SM as a cool new thing, with its own rules and methods. This will scare
> most of the PS, SES not-with-standing. The other option is to recognise
> SM for what it is - just another form of communicating with the public.
> And that is something the APS has always done, and always will do. Our
> existing training and framework just need updating IMO, and as soon as
> people begin to realise that SM is no different from giving advice or
> opinion over the phone, I think the more seamless and less painful, the
> transition into the new media types will be.
>

It's just that communicating with the public has usually been
circumscribed by rules and regulations, especially if you're a junior
staffer. Now, we're trying to encourage junior and senior staffers to
do this at will - and to use their own judgement. That's the big
difference.

> PS: Check John Sheridan @ AGIMO's tweet history - he points to his own
> activities on SM in an official capacity as a good example - and he's
> right - good, sound advice given in a professional manner, and with full
> disclosure on ID. Will post the link/tweet when I dig it out.
>

and John is a relatively senior person in AGIMO, who is probably
"officially trusted".

I'm very much in favour of public servants using SM and am lobbying as
hard as I can for it in my jurisdiction, but we mustn't underestimate
the size of the task - especially when support from the very top is
not strong and consistent.

Kerry

Paul Roberts

unread,
7 Feb 2010, 18:27:3307/02/2010
to gov20c...@googlegroups.com
IMO  the US Navy guidelines encourage and support social media use. They also recognise the blurring betwen work and personal lives that's the reality for many people online. So there's a good balance in the slides: supportive and postive as well as guidance about risks. All power to them I say!
 
Paul Roberts
Mob: +61438 553 562




chris...@grapevine.net.au

unread,
7 Feb 2010, 19:23:5707/02/2010
to gov20c...@googlegroups.com
>
>
> On Feb 7, 8:57�pm, Chris Beer <chris-b...@grapevine.net.au> wrote:
>>
>> Look - at the end of the day we have two options. The first is to laud
>> SM as a cool new thing, with its own rules and methods. This will scare
>> most of the PS, SES not-with-standing. The other option is to recognise
>> SM for what it is - just another form of communicating with the public.
>> And that is something the APS has always done, and always will do. Our
>> existing training and framework just need updating IMO, and as soon as
>> people begin to realise that SM is no different from giving advice or
>> opinion over the phone, I think the more seamless and less painful, the
>> transition into the new media types will be.
>>
>
> It's just that communicating with the public has usually been
> circumscribed by rules and regulations, especially if you're a junior
> staffer. Now, we're trying to encourage junior and senior staffers to
> do this at will - and to use their own judgement. That's the big
> difference.

I guess that's where the distinction needs to be made - offering opinion
etc vs responding to requests or clarifying and correcting. The latter is
well within the scope of what's being done now by junior staffers, and if
SM use was going to be implemented in a two stage process across the
board, this first part could be implemented fairly quickly and rapidly.

>
>> PS: Check John Sheridan @ AGIMO's tweet history - he points to his own
>> activities on SM in an official capacity as a good example - and he's
>> right - good, sound advice given in a professional manner, and with full
>> disclosure on ID. Will post the link/tweet when I dig it out.
>>
>
> and John is a relatively senior person in AGIMO, who is probably
> "officially trusted".

I like the probably and officially caveat lol. You'd hope he is :)

Seriously though, others, such as Gordon Grace, Craig Thomler, Nathaneal
Boehm etc aren't - have shown through their professional and careful use
of SM shows that as long as common sense is used, that professional use is
well within scope for public servants. I personally would like to see some
write ups in an "official sense" of what boundaries, governance or
constraints they operate under, if any.

>
> I'm very much in favour of public servants using SM and am lobbying as
> hard as I can for it in my jurisdiction, but we mustn't underestimate
> the size of the task - especially when support from the very top is
> not strong and consistent.

Hence why I promote making it ubiquitous with other communications
channels. As long as use is accepted, then the hard part - the offering of
opinion as a departmental officer, as opposed to current communications
channel use, will be a lot easier to implement.

Cheers

Chris

>
> Kerry

Lisah

unread,
8 Feb 2010, 18:33:3208/02/2010
to Gov2.0Australia
"SM is no different from giving advice or opinion over the phone,"

Yes and no...the big problem is that SM is written and searchable and
lasting. This, for some, gives it more credibility and way, way more
accessibility (yes, I know a phone call can be recorded and broadcast
but that happens far less than SM conversations are viewed), and
therefore more reliability which therefore increases the public
service desire to ensure it is correct and would stand up if
contested.

A phone call or private conversation, perhaps because we are more
familiar with the technology or perhaps because we know it is much
harder to contest what was said later, is often more casual and open.
Even these would be more guarded if we knew the recipients friends of
friends could see exactly what was said. Would you base important life
decisions like selling your water rights or business equipment on a
phone call conversation with a public servant that you didn't know?
Surely you would want something in writing? An email/SM conversation
might be taken these days to be that document/official statement -
after all it comes with the government imprimatur. We have to consider
that public servants need to act, not as individuals but as government
representatives.

It could be said that government needs to be more open, but maybe the
public also needs to be more less ready to sue/be outraged?

Paul Roberts

unread,
8 Feb 2010, 18:43:3508/02/2010
to gov20c...@googlegroups.com
I agree with all you say Lisah, especially about the need for constructive public engagement. It takes two to tango. Government 2.0 will be a learning curve for citizens as well as public servants.

Paul Roberts
Mob: +61438 553 562




chris...@grapevine.net.au

unread,
8 Feb 2010, 20:18:3708/02/2010
to gov20c...@googlegroups.com
Very true. My point was that obstensivley it is a form of Gov2Citizen
communication - something that isn't new and scary and shouldn't be seen
as such - however, in the sense that you have read it, given the example
below, one would hope that you wouldn't use SM to get legal or policy
advice around life decisions such as selling your water rights or business
equipment, any more than you would take such advice from a call centre
(which could always be outsourced personnel etc). Obviously common sense
must prevail at some level, and we must always assume that the public are
intelligent users on some level - of course there will always be times
when formal communication is necessary or even mandatory. And the advice
we give over any transient medium, be it SM, email or phone, must include
such caveats.

Your point about Public Servants acting not as individuals, but as
representatives of government is a very important distinction, and one
that is being discussed globally. One could very well say that an obvious
step for agencies to take in this regard is to draw that line quite firmly
- the use of a departmental email address in any forum obviously carries
some degree of authority when interacting with the public - personal
opinions should use personal addresses and identifiers. But in the world
of policy of course, this is easier said than done.

Also, obviously at high level this can be blurred - Abbotts recent
personal opinions expressed as a politician who was asked a personal
question on air is a very good example of this.

Another key governance area that needs to be thought about by all agencies
is how they will go about making SM comments made in any official capacity
part of the public record - to date there is little to no solution in this
regard from any agency anywhere in the world short of offering an SM
channel as an in-house service - something which the pundits are quick to
point out never works - citizen engagement works best when it happens on
their turf, not the other way around. In Australia we also have the issue
that there are very firm mandatory requirements around record keeping,
which have yet to be reviewed and updated in terms which address the
changing nature of technology in this area.

The other succinct reply to your post sums up the overall issue nicely -
this is a period of great learning and education for all involved, not
only for us, but on a global level - and any solutions we come up with in
our own backyard will eagerly be snapped up and examined by the public
sector worldwide.

Cheers

Chris

Craig Thomler

unread,
9 Feb 2010, 15:04:3309/02/2010
to Gov2.0Australia
Why not simply educate your staff to not provide binding advice
through social media channels and to tell people to give you a call?

We managed this very simply at a previous Department of mine with a
disclaimer that we would not provide advice specific to an individual
through these types of channels, due to both privacy (the user would
have to tell us their specific circumstances) and because we could not
ensure we had all the necessary information without a conversation
(simply responding to a post might not capture enough of the user's
situation).

This still provided a rich and varied level of user interaction that
was helpful for customers.


Sometimes I feel we overcomplicate the challenges and spend too much
time ralking about the bad stuff, rather than actually defining the
risks and mitigating them.

The risks are manageable provided we,

a) Set clear ground rules
b) Educate our staff
c) Review on a regular basis

Departments already do it for procurement guidelines, financial
compliance guidelines and customer service guidelines. In fact
management would be considered negligent if they didn't!

Can anyone nominate an agency who has actually taken all three of
these steps above for social media?


In terms of archiving, we need more guidance and training from the NAA
on this. Again those three steps outlined above.


Remember that while we agonise over this topic more and more
misinformation is being published online, leading to more and more
people forming the wrong ideas.

The choice to not engaging causes damage - to agency reputations and
to citizens who rely on inaccurate advise (who often don't know where
to go to get accurate advice).

Even if we engaged as simply as adding messages to forums and blogs
stating:

"If you need official information on this topic go to <Agency website
page>.

Cheers,
Lisa

The Department of X"

We'd be adding enormous positive value.

In my humble opinion, being totally silent online (whilst seeing the
misinformation spread) and justifying this by saying it's the user's
responsibility to educate themselves is, in many cases, an abrogation
of our responsibilities as the administrators of programs designed to
help specific communities.

If it is the user's responsibility to educate themselves then I
recommend simply putting information on our website and ceasing all
government advertising, media releases and PR activity informing
people about it. We'd save a bundle.

Cheers,

Craig

Nathanael Boehm

unread,
9 Feb 2010, 15:08:4809/02/2010
to gov20c...@googlegroups.com
>Can anyone nominate an agency who has actually taken all three of
>these steps above for social media?

*hand up* DEEWR, or at least the area I was running the social media strategy for with my stakeholder engagement colleague.

Yes there were a few hiccups - we couldn't mitigate all risks, just focussed on the major ones. Things go wrong - escalate to your EL2, decision is made, information distributed or revoked as necessary. No long-term harm done ... the good far outweighs the bad.

Cheers,

Nathanael Boehm

Web user interaction designer

user experience · social experience · social media · user interface development · usability · accessibility

KATA Professional · UXnet Canberra · OpenAustralia · BarCampCanberra · Canberra Coworking

www.purecaffeine.com

Canberra, Australia

0409 288 464

Latest UX blog post: A higher order of specification




--

chris...@grapevine.net.au

unread,
9 Feb 2010, 19:54:4709/02/2010
to gov20c...@googlegroups.com, gov20c...@googlegroups.com
To be fair Nathanael, it really was only your area - it was operating as a
bit of a rogue element in that regard :) The agency as a whole has still
to address these issues, let alone take up SM on a serious level (if at
all). But you certainly did take a best practice approach - its a pity its
offline now, as it would make a good case study.

Incidentally all, this just came across Twitter via the Vic. e-Gov
resource centre. Synchronicity is a wonderful thing.

http://www.futuregov.net/articles/2010/feb/09/should-govts-archive-social-media-posts/

IMO - the answer is definately.

Cheers

Chris

>>Can anyone nominate an agency who has actually taken all three of
>>these steps above for social media?
>
> *hand up* DEEWR, or at least the area I was running the social media
> strategy for with my stakeholder engagement colleague.
>
> Yes there were a few hiccups - we couldn't mitigate all risks, just
> focussed
> on the major ones. Things go wrong - escalate to your EL2, decision is
> made,
> information distributed or revoked as necessary. No long-term harm done
> ...
> the good far outweighs the bad.
>
> Cheers,
>
> Nathanael Boehm
>
> Web user interaction designer
>
> user experience � social experience � social media � user interface
> development � usability � accessibility
>
> KATA Professional � UXnet Canberra � OpenAustralia � BarCampCanberra �
> Canberra Coworking
>

> www.purecaffeine.com <http://www.purecaffeine.com/about/>


>
> Canberra, Australia
>
> 0409 288 464
>
> Latest UX blog post: A higher order of specification

> <http://bit.ly/dcts83>

>> gov20canberr...@googlegroups.com<gov20canberra%2Bunsu...@googlegroups.com>

fac...@gmail.com

unread,
9 Feb 2010, 20:47:1009/02/2010
to chris...@grapevine.net.au, gov20c...@googlegroups.com
On 10/02/2010 11:54am, chris...@grapevine.net.au wrote:
> To be fair Nathanael, it really was only your area - it was operating as a
> bit of a rogue element in that regard :) The agency as a whole has still
> to address these issues, let alone take up SM on a serious level (if at
> all). But you certainly did take a best practice approach - its a pity its
> offline now, as it would make a good case study.

Chris,

just on the issues - I'd like to discuss the earlier suggestion that APS members were covered in providing advice via SM if they made the disclaimer that it was unofficial, and pointed to some official source.

My understanding, based on the anecdotes arising from recent court action, is that there is no such thing as unofficial advice by a government representative.

Anyone else have any thoughts in this regard?

Cheers, Andrew

Kerry

unread,
9 Feb 2010, 22:50:5609/02/2010
to Gov2.0Australia

On Feb 10, 12:47 pm, faci...@gmail.com wrote:

I'd agree. People just love reading disclaimers <g>

We talk about educating the community, but I'd guess that they don't
want to be educated - they just want answers.

So, what to do? Accept that it's a long journey, but that we have to
start somewhere. Take small steps; open up the SM sites to public
servants; educate them to the possibilities; monitor how they're
going; tell the community what's happening.

Kerry

Craig Thomler

unread,
10 Feb 2010, 15:27:2310/02/2010
to Gov2.0Australia
H Andrew,

Which recent court action was that?

When you talk about 'anecdotes' - is there an actual ruling setting a
precedent, or is it simply the treatment of a specific set of evidence
within the action?

There needs to be a separation between an individual providing a
personal view and an individual providing an official position on
behalf of their organisation (public or private).

There is also a distinction between providing 'advice' (a statement
directed at influencing an outcome based on providing a specific set
of information matched to a specific set of circumstances) and
providing 'information' (outlining the factors and material pertinent
to a decision without attempting to influence the outcome). Was this
pertinent or recognised in the action?

Cheers,

Craig

chris...@grapevine.net.au

unread,
10 Feb 2010, 18:35:5110/02/2010
to gov20c...@googlegroups.com, Gov2.0Australia
All

(Am writing my next reply to this thread when I have time this evening to
give a good response.)

In the mean time, this just came across Twitter via @miagarlick:

Lindsay Tanner - "Government Wants to Blog" -
http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/blogs/the-razors-edge/the-government-wants-to-blog/20100211-nssb.html

Cheers

Chris


b3rn

unread,
10 Feb 2010, 20:50:3110/02/2010
to Gov2.0Australia
I like this very much! Craig, why don't you write it up as a case
study? Many people are asking questions around this.

The word "disclaimer" is not essential. It's informing people of how
you're using a particular channel. I tried it - http://bit.ly/9s3pBM
... But Craig's outline explains _why_ some interactions cannot be
completed in that particular channel. And in a fair and reasonable
manner.


On Feb 10, 7:04 am, Craig Thomler <craig.thom...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Why not simply educate your staff to not provide binding advice
> through social media channels and to tell people to give you a call?
>

> We managed this verysimplyat a previous Department of mine with a


> disclaimer that we would not provide advice specific to an individual
> through these types of channels, due to both privacy (the user would
> have to tell us their specific circumstances) and because we could not
> ensure we had all the necessary information without a conversation

> (simplyresponding to a post might not capture enough of the user's

Brian

unread,
11 Feb 2010, 08:11:2711/02/2010
to Gov2.0Australia
Just with the bit about disclaimers, I agree with an earlier post that
social networking sites are not an appropriate place to discuss
specific circumstances and issues. Hence, no disclaimer should be
required. However, my experience with answering public e-mail
enquiries and developing FAQs is that people are surprised to receive
a response (an indictment of our overall performance), and happy to be
pointed in the right direction, whether that be to a web page that
answers their question or a referral to the person they need to talk
to.

Yes, social networking could be so much more, and there are some
really interesting projects using it for policy development and the
like, but most of the time people just want routine questions answered
and don't know where to begin (eg, in business, directors have
ultimate authority and the secretary sits outside the boss' door and
does not have any decision-making power -- I don't understand how that
got reversed in the public service but it causes a lot of confusion).

Andrew Boyd

unread,
11 Feb 2010, 13:03:2011/02/2010
to gov20c...@googlegroups.com, Gov2.0Australia
Craig,

A man of many questions, indeed.

My point: that there is no such thing as an unofficial opinion
expressed by a member of the APS, and that any opinion can be
interpreted as advice, and that this can be a hassle.

The fora: various courts and tribunals

The source of the anecdotes: people I've spoken to within DIAC in
context of my work here. Obviously I will not be drawn on individual
names or work areas.

The anecdotes: were many, and to the effect that an offhand comment
could and sometimes was interpreted as an official opinion - and later
come back to bite both the commenter and the organisation. Regardless
of right or wrong, or the legality, the point that seems to
continually be missed is that the hassle of being dragged before a
court is a very real fear for many - especially when the supervisor
and peers of said staff member may not see that it is any of their
business to be involved in the conversation in the first place.

Right or wrong, this fear exists, and inferring that it is always
erroneous is, I believe, culturally insensitive. If individuals choose
not to stick their head in the lion's mouth I do not see it as a
slight on their professional integrity - and neither should anyone else.

I agree with the separation of advice and opinion. I also agree with
the separation of personal and professional opinion. What I'm uneasy
with is the advice given to APS staff by some on this list that
they'll be ok discussing anything anywhere any time provided they
issue the right disclaimer. I am not a lawyer, and nor do I play one
on tv. I'd just hate to be the one encouraging openness that moves
beyond what the wider organisation can manage.

You know I am an advocate of open consultative government - and that
this is a cultural rather than a technological change. As frustrating
as it may be, the change is a little slower than we all might like.
And that is just the way it is. We eat the elephant one bite at a time.

Best regards, Andrew

Andrew Boyd fac...@gmail.com


http://uxbookclub.org -- connect, read, discuss


On 11/02/2010, at 7:27 AM, Craig Thomler <craig....@gmail.com>
wrote:

> H Andrew,

> --
> You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google
> Groups "Gov2.0Australia" group.
> To post to this group, send an email to
> gov20c...@googlegroups.com.
> To unsubscribe from this group, send email to gov20canberr...@googlegroups.com

Leanne

unread,
11 Feb 2010, 16:56:5011/02/2010
to Gov2.0Australia
Guys,
I am a lawyer by profession, and although I no longer hold a
practising certificate I am still a solicitor of the Supreme Court of
NSW and so bound by those obligations. I can't tell you the number of
times I am asked for 'advice'. I have to be extremely careful how I
respond to those requests. And the interesting thing is that even if I
offer an 'opinion', it is perceived differently by my audience because
they know my position and my skill set. So my offering is that you
might be expecting way too much of some sectors of your audience to
distinguish between advice and opinion. The piece I see missing is
much of the debate is the education of the general audience in this
two way engagement.
I participate in a social network called FostercareCentral.com. There
are strict privacy rules around children in care, and yet is it
interesting watching this community develop without breaching that
line. Some of the discussions are now quite specifically giving advice
and support.
IMHO any government initiatives need to factor in actively working
with the community they are targeting to create understanding/
conventions/course of dealing.
Cheers
Leanne

> Andrew Boyd faci...@gmail.comhttp://uxbookclub.org-- connect, read, discuss
>
> On 11/02/2010, at 7:27 AM, Craig Thomler <craig.thom...@gmail.com>  

Chris Beer

unread,
12 Feb 2010, 05:49:5212/02/2010
to gov20c...@googlegroups.com, Andrew Boyd
Andrew, all

After a very hectic week, I finally have the time to sit down and write the reply I feel I need to, rather than something quick and in passing. Maybe I feel the need to do this because I don't blog. But I'm doing it anyway.

Andrew - I think of all the replies I've been reading to date, your take on this situation has been accurate from my point of view - there is little, if not nothing, I disagree with in what you have said.

Returning to your earlier comment on increasing discussion around disclaimers, let me begin with a clarification of an earlier point. When I wrote that "In the case of APS employees using SM on a personal level - the rules are also there. It's the APS code of conduct...", what I was referring to was that if a member of the APS (and this applies for equivalent State and Local Government officers) engages online, then your conduct should be governed by the APS Code of Conduct (for instance, Section 15) and associated guidance, such as Circular 2008/8, at all times. In short, one should act in a professional manner befitting of the APS.

Now, I personally do not believe in personal disclaimers, nor the value of them. And I do not feel the need to make personal disclaimers, as I conduct myself online with the above always in mind. Sure it sounds like I'm a bit of a tool there. But I sleep well at night.

===========================

Social Media Rules, IMHO

I am by no means any sort of SM guru, nor do I hold any sort of degree in Public Administration or the like. (Oh - and I am not a lawyer, nor do I have a legal background). I do not have a blog. I have yet to meet, or seriously talk with any of the in crowd at Barcamps, Twitter meet-ups, Cream, AGIMO seminars or any of the other forums one finds the usual names at. For those who few (<100) people who follow me on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/zBeer), they will know I don't post opinions - I treat it as a news feed I provide others. I don't post my photo online, and you'll find very little information about me anywhere online. But I am extremely active in e-Gov activities around the place, which incidentally, are not important - and I feel that comment from me in that regard could always be interpreted as tooting my own horn, for my own advancement. Now prehaps my approach is a two-edged sword - I do not know how seriously people will take my comments, nor in what regard they will hold them. It doesn't really matter. Because it shouldn't matter who I am, but it should matter what I am about to say. I don't offer advice. But in this case, I am going to break my own rule. This is advice. Take it, use it. Please. I have never been more serious about any comments on SM as I am being now.

When is a Public Servant not a Public Servant? - NEVER

And this is rule number one. No matter what you do, where you are, or what you say, you are ALWAYS a member of the APS, and in service to the Australian Public and your Minister. It doesn't matter if you are at work, posting from home, talking at the pub or around the BBQ.

I spent quite a few years in construction before returning to public service about 12 months ago. (I had been in public service, both in the APS and third sector before that, and have been in IT since the very early 90's.) We used to have a rule of thumb we'd teach apprentices, and it was one I was taught myself - always do your work as if you are at home, and your wife is standing right behind you.

I believe the same applies here, in this context. Before you do anything online, especially with SM, stop and think. Would you say the same thing if your Minister was standing behind you, reading over your shoulder. Or would you shout the same comment to the largest crowd of people you could imagine. Because that is what you are doing. Only to the biggest audience the world has ever seen. And they are not friendly. They will take anything you say, and tear it, and you apart if you screw up.

There is no taking it back - it is instantly online, cached and re-posted, quoted and RT'd, for all the world to see, in perpetuity. There is no apology or "oops" that will repair any damage completely. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Done is done. So think before you engage.

This leads to rule two:

There is no such thing as "unofficial", or "I think"

I can completely back up Andrew on his anecdotal evidence from DIAC - I have, going on a decade now, heard countless stories of, or been privy to, situations and cases where a DIAC officer has said something to someone, even in passing, that has resulted in legal action against the Commonwealth. A quick reading of ComLaw cases, or Administrative Appeals Tribunal or even the RRT's published cases (where available) will back this up. And it's not limited to DIAC either - every Department and Agency on some level has experienced this very situation, if only through probity cases with tendering and procurement processes.

While there may be distinctions between advice and information, it tends to be of little relevance in court. The law does not care about what you intended, or what was actually written down as "information". It tends to only care about what actually happened, and how your comments (advice OR information) were interpreted by others, usually the plaintiff. There is something used in law called a "reasonable man test". Basically it says "what would a reasonable man do in this situation". Which is why a disclaimer is useless - all someone has to do is believe you, and reasonably so, and it can be considered official and binding, in the sense that someone then took that advice or information, and proceeded to an outcome based on the advice or information. Often these cases center around wrong advice, even if honestly made. And often it is enough to, one a point of legal technicality, be found in favour of the plaintiff.

The point made earlier that "Would you base important life decisions like selling your water rights or business equipment on a phone call conversation with a public servant that you didn't know? Surely you would want something in writing." The sad fact is, despite my glib reply that we should always treat the user as intelligent on some level, is that people do just that. And when it goes balls up, they hire a lawyer. Now, my reply also stated that I would hope that people wouldn't base important life decisions on a phone call or SM comment. But they do, no matter how much I hope. And I pointed out that any information given out, should have caveats. Not disclaimers, caveats. "This is my opinion" means nothing. "Please seek formal advice through the following channels before going any further" means a lot. It cannot be misinterpreted, and particularily in the SM sphere, is on the record for all to see.

But this leads me to rule three:

All communication with the public, on any level, by the APS, is a legal issue.

There is a reason we have the AG's department and the Government Solicitor. There is a reason that every Department has a Legals section. (Actually there are a few, but the point I'm making here is that there are always people who are willing to, and quite happily will, sue the Commonwealth.)

There is absolutely no point (and I bold that deliberately) in formulating any sort of Social Media use policy without first going to, or heavily involving, your Legals team. Craig made this point earlier, however in a far more user friendly and much broader way. What he is really saying (forgive me if I'm wrong here Craig) is: Risk analysis by a department, considering all legal aspects and potential for legal exposure to the department, is absolutely necessary, and a requirement, for the development of any policy around online engagement.

The examples of other such guidelines he gave: procurement, financial compliance, customer service, all point to this. There would be solid policy in place before any such guidelines were developed. And unless your at the SES level, or in Legals, you probably should not try to make these policies yourself. Once the policy and governance is in place, then, and only then, should guidelines be developed by those knowledgable about actual SM use and practice.

It is interesting to note that when releasing the last State of the Service report, Ms Carmel McGregor, Acting Commissioner of the Australian Public Service Commission, stated on the subject of interagency collaboration and citizen engagement that "It is promising that 26 APS agencies reported using new social media tools to support this dialogue during 2009” 26 isn't a lot given to total numbers of APS departments and agencies. And I am curious about how many of the 26 actually went ahead and did so without a solid SM policy in place.

Finally, rule four:

You are a tiny little cog in a massive machine


We've spent a lot of time here talking about what public servants at any level can do, should do, and have done, online in the SM space. About educating staff and running courses, about being supportive and encouraging engagement. And that is all very nice and good. But the harsh reality is that every individual in the APS is responsible, at the end of the day, for their own actions. There is no amount of policy, guidance, support, training or mentoring that can alter this fact. And for those of you who read the front page of the Canberra Times today - (http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/take-my-job-and-forward-it-staffer/1749273.aspx) - there will always be times when bad things happen and SM is abused.

Now I'm making two points here. The first is to those using SM - be aware that no matter how light and fluffy SM and citizen engagement is made to sound, the Commonwealth, or your department, will cut you lose in a heartbeat and leave you to hang if you screw up. This is a self-evident fact. The Commonwealth owes you nothing - it exists for the greater good, and acts in the service of the Australian people and government. And it will protect itself, at your expense if necessary. It is not your family, and it owes you nothing if you breach rules 1, 2 and 3 in any way. This is not a rant, nor a criticism. It just is. Accept it, love the Commonwealth and the APS for what it is, and get on with making a difference.

The second point is to those who are developing the policy, guidance, education and providing the mentoring. There is nothing you can do to stop those who choose to do the wrong thing. But Social Media and it's use by government is here to stay. Have faith, and know that these few bad eggs, or even those who just don't get it right, sad though it may be, will not ruin it for everyone else. The show will go on. In existing for the greater good, and acting in the sevice of the Australian people and government, it all but has an obligation in writing now to engage with citizens in the manner of their choosing. And the public has chosen the online environment, amongst others, to be available in. Accept it, trust the Commonwealth and APS for how it works, and get on with making a difference.

And above all, in the words of a semi-iconic fictional character: "Engage"

Chris Beer
Canberra, Australia

======================

Cheers all, flames and feedback gladly taken.

C.

DavidLawson

unread,
12 Feb 2010, 15:56:5112/02/2010
to Gov2.0Australia
Chris,
In my department we are taught the "Front Page of the SMH Test".....
ie. "How would it look if your actions were reported on the front page
of the
SMH?".
This has always helped me clear my thinking!
David

On Feb 12, 9:49 pm, Chris Beer <chris-b...@grapevine.net.au> wrote:
> Andrew, all
>
> After a very hectic week, I finally have the time to sit down and write
> the reply I feel I need to, rather than something quick and in passing.
> Maybe I feel the need to do this because I don't blog. But I'm doing it
> anyway.
> Andrew - I think of all the replies I've been reading to date, your take
> on this situation has been accurate from my point of view - there is
> little, if not nothing, I disagree with in what you have said.
>
> Returning to your earlier comment on increasing discussion around
> disclaimers, let me begin with a clarification of an earlier point. When
> I wrote that "In the case of APS employees using SM on a personal level
> - the rules are also there. It's the APS code of conduct...", what I was
> referring to was that if a member of the APS (and this applies for
> equivalent State and Local Government officers) engages online, then
> your conduct should be governed by the APS Code of Conduct (for
> instance, Section 15) and associated guidance, such as Circular 2008/8,
> at all times. In short, one should act in a professional manner
> befitting of the APS.
>
> Now, I personally do not believe in personal disclaimers, nor the value
> of them. And I do not feel the need to make personal disclaimers, as I
> conduct myself online with the above always in mind. Sure it sounds like
> I'm a bit of a tool there. But I sleep well at night.
>
> ===========================
>

> /Social Media Rules, IMHO/


>
> I am by no means any sort of SM guru, nor do I hold any sort of degree
> in Public Administration or the like. (Oh - and I am not a lawyer, nor
> do I have a legal background). I do not have a blog. I have yet to meet,
> or seriously talk with any of the in crowd at Barcamps, Twitter
> meet-ups, Cream, AGIMO seminars or any of the other forums one finds the
> usual names at. For those who few (<100) people who follow me on Twitter
> (http://www.twitter.com/zBeer), they will know I don't post opinions - I
> treat it as a news feed I provide others. I don't post my photo online,
> and you'll find very little information about me anywhere online. But I
> am extremely active in e-Gov activities around the place, which
> incidentally, are not important - and I feel that comment from me in
> that regard could always be interpreted as tooting my own horn, for my
> own advancement. Now prehaps my approach is a two-edged sword - I do not
> know how seriously people will take my comments, nor in what regard they
> will hold them. It doesn't really matter. Because it shouldn't matter
> who I am, but it should matter what I am about to say. I don't offer
> advice. But in this case, I am going to break my own rule. This is
> advice. Take it, use it. Please. I have never been more serious about
> any comments on SM as I am being now.
>

> *When is a Public Servant not a Public Servant? - _/NEVER/_
>
> *And this is rule number one. No matter what you do, where you are, or


> what you say, you are ALWAYS a member of the APS, and in service to the
> Australian Public and your Minister. It doesn't matter if you are at
> work, posting from home, talking at the pub or around the BBQ.
>
> I spent quite a few years in construction before returning to public
> service about 12 months ago. (I had been in public service, both in the
> APS and third sector before that, and have been in IT since the very
> early 90's.) We used to have a rule of thumb we'd teach apprentices, and
> it was one I was taught myself - always do your work as if you are at
> home, and your wife is standing right behind you.
>
> I believe the same applies here, in this context. Before you do anything
> online, especially with SM, stop and think. Would you say the same thing
> if your Minister was standing behind you, reading over your shoulder. Or
> would you shout the same comment to the largest crowd of people you
> could imagine. Because that is what you are doing. Only to the biggest
> audience the world has ever seen. And they are not friendly. They will
> take anything you say, and tear it, and you apart if you screw up.
>
> There is no taking it back - it is instantly online, cached and
> re-posted, quoted and RT'd, for all the world to see, in perpetuity.
> There is no apology or "oops" that will repair any damage completely. Do
> not pass go, do not collect $200. Done is done. So think before you engage.

> *
> *This leads to rule two:
>
> *There is no such thing as "unofficial", or "I think"
>
> *I can completely back up Andrew on his anecdotal evidence from DIAC - I

> important life decisions on a phone call or SM comment. /But they do, no
> matter how much I hope/. And I pointed out that any information given
> out, should have caveats. *Not* disclaimers, caveats. "This is my


> opinion" means nothing. "Please seek formal advice through the following
> channels before going any further" means a lot. It cannot be
> misinterpreted, and particularily in the SM sphere, is on the record for
> all to see.
>
> But this leads me to rule three:
>

> *All communication with the public, on any level, by the APS, is a legal
> issue.
>
> *There is a reason we have the AG's department and the Government


> Solicitor. There is a reason that every Department has a Legals section.
> (Actually there are a few, but the point I'm making here is that there
> are always people who are willing to, and quite happily will, sue the
> Commonwealth.)
>

> There is absolutely *no point *(and I bold that deliberately) in


> formulating any sort of Social Media use policy without first going to,
> or heavily involving, your Legals team. Craig made this point earlier,
> however in a far more user friendly and much broader way. What he is
> really saying (forgive me if I'm wrong here Craig) is: Risk analysis by
> a department, considering all legal aspects and potential for legal
> exposure to the department, is absolutely necessary, and a requirement,
> for the development of any policy around online engagement.
>
> The examples of other such guidelines he gave: procurement, financial
> compliance, customer service, all point to this. There would be solid
> policy in place before any such guidelines were developed. And unless
> your at the SES level, or in Legals, you probably should not try to make
> these policies yourself. Once the policy and governance is in place,
> then, and only then, should guidelines be developed by those
> knowledgable about actual SM use and practice.
>
> It is interesting to note that when releasing the last State of the
> Service report, Ms Carmel McGregor, Acting Commissioner of the
> Australian Public Service Commission, stated on the subject of
> interagency collaboration and citizen engagement that "It is promising
> that 26 APS agencies reported using new social media tools to support
> this dialogue during 2009" 26 isn't a lot given to total numbers of APS
> departments and agencies. And I am curious about how many of the 26
> actually went ahead and did so without a solid SM policy in place.
>
> Finally, rule four:

> *
> You are a tiny little cog in a massive machine*


>
> We've spent a lot of time here talking about what public servants at any
> level can do, should do, and have done, online in the SM space. About
> educating staff and running courses, about being supportive and
> encouraging engagement. And that is all very nice and good. But the
> harsh reality is that every individual in the APS is responsible, at the
> end of the day, for their own actions. There is no amount of policy,
> guidance, support, training or mentoring that can alter this fact. And
> for those of you who read the front page of the Canberra Times today -

> (http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/take-my-job-a...)


> - there will always be times when bad things happen and SM is abused.
>
> Now I'm making two points here. The first is to those using SM - be
> aware that no matter how light and fluffy SM and citizen engagement is
> made to sound, the Commonwealth, or your department, will cut you lose
> in a heartbeat and leave you to hang if you screw up. This is a

> self-evident fact. The ...
>
> read more »

Andrew Boyd

unread,
12 Feb 2010, 16:38:5812/02/2010
to gov20c...@googlegroups.com
On Fri, Feb 12, 2010 at 9:49 PM, Chris Beer <chris...@grapevine.net.au> wrote:
> Andrew, all
>
> After a very hectic week, I finally have the time to sit down and write the
> reply I feel I need to, rather than something quick and in passing. Maybe I
> feel the need to do this because I don't blog. But I'm doing it anyway.
>
> Andrew - I think of all the replies I've been reading to date, your take on
> this situation has been accurate from my point of view - there is little, if
> not nothing, I disagree with in what you have said.

Chris,

thank you for a thorough and very well thought-out reply. It echoed my
own thoughts and extended them in a well-constructed way.

If you were ever tempted to blog in this sphere, I think that you
would make a valuable contribution in a world where "dare to be
different", presented forcefully, has become the loudest voice in the
room.

Best regards, Andrew
--
---
Andrew Boyd

Craig Thomler

unread,
14 Feb 2010, 06:58:2014/02/2010
to Gov2.0Australia
Andrew I agree - if Chris blogged in this space it would add
measurably to the discussion.

In fact we could do with a number more blogs and other social media
discussions on this topic.

IMO opinion there's not enough people discussing different views
perspectives in a civilised and evidence-based manner.

Part of the reason for the low level of active discussion in Australia
could be related to some of the concerns expressed in this discussion
- the high degree of caution (even fear?) over whether someone's
personal views will be perceived as if they are being expressed as
being those of their agency or company, rather than being personal.

I constantly wonder why this level of caution appears to me to be so
much higher in Australia (across both public and private sectors) than
in the UK, New Zealand or US. There's definitely some deep cultural
roots - particularly considering that we're a less litigious country
than the US.

BTW If anyone has been watching the various comments John Sheridan
(who recently joined this group) has had publishing in online sites
like ZDNet (identifying himself in his professional role), maybe this
will provide more food for thought as to how public servants can
engage the public via social media without the fear of legal
approbation.

Cheers,

Craig

John Sheridan

unread,
14 Feb 2010, 16:25:3214/02/2010
to Gov2.0Australia
Hi all

I have joined the group so I can post in my professional capacity -
which I intend to do this week.

As will become obvious when I do, I note in passing that the posts to
which Craig refers are in my 'official' capacity, a subtle but
important distinction.

Regards

John

Paul Roberts

unread,
14 Feb 2010, 17:27:0614/02/2010
to gov20c...@googlegroups.com
I agree with Craig's observation about the lack of active discussion in Australia.
 
My passion is in anticipating developments over the horizon and I am invariably frustrated with the lack of creative discussion about the future. There is ao much potential for new insights to flow out of sharing perspectives and the cross-fertilisation of ideas that goes untaped. Why? Culture has a lot to do with it....command and control culture, where the personal views of people are not valued. Stratified social relationships in the private and public sectors, at work and in personal lives, inhibits self-expression, creativity and innovation. Command and control cultures value compliance.
 
The promise of Government 2.0 is to send a signal to public servants and citizens that it is OK to have a view and to share it. That is why I'm such an advocate for Government 2.0.
 
cheers
 
Paul Roberts
Mob: +61438 553 562




Chris Beer

unread,
15 Feb 2010, 06:08:4015/02/2010
to gov20c...@googlegroups.com, John Sheridan
Welcome John :)

You'll find it a vigourous and interesting space no doubt.

Cheers

Chris

chieftech

unread,
16 Feb 2010, 19:47:2816/02/2010
to Gov2.0Australia
I've come late to this thread, so I've been trying to get my head
around the various issues raised. I also apologise in advance for such
a long reply!

In summary, I've picked up points about:

* Legal and risk management
* Community expectations (hard advice vs FYI), the traditional media
and responsibilities of the community when engaging online with
government
* Participating in social media in an official vs unofficial/personal
capacity
* Attributes of social media - statement and comments are permanently
on the record
* Comparison with other communication channels
* Guidelines and the development of social media guidelines
* There is also a related issue of why aren't more people discussing
Gov 2.0, but I'm going to put that to one side.

The first point I want to raise, and I mentioned this in Canberra the
other week, is that many of the issues faced by government and
government employees are also faced by the commercial sector too.
There is no doubt that government is an easy and popular target for
the media, however, being in the wrong place at the wrong time can be
equally disastrous for any business. The traditional media isn't
making this easier - Laurel Papworth wrote this great post discussing
the problem of Journogger the other day http://laurelpapworth.com/journoggers-journalists-that-blog/
which gets at this point:

"Bloggers use a “negative” story as a jumping off point for them to
give advice, of varying expertise/passion/usefulness, to demonstrate
their skill and knowledge in a particular subject. Journoggers simply
maximise the distress of the situation. So if you see a post referring
to someone being an idiot on Twitter, by tweeting that they hate their
client or something, a blogger will usually give “advice” on why
social media guidelines are useful, or why transparency is positive or
how Gen Z think it’s a fair tweet. Journalists will hold them up for
ridicule, expecting comments that are inflammatory (then faking shock
when they have nastiness on their site). Set the tone and topic as
toxic then shake their head at the great unwashed."

Also, the behaviour of employees online - even if unrelated to their
day job - can land them in hot water. Its also not just that you are
always an member of the APS, if you are an employee then you need to
serve your employee... e.g.
http://www.laclawyers.com.au/document/Employment-Law-__-Employee-and-Employer-Duties-in-Common-Law-Employment-Contracts.aspx

Personally I think the public-private divide online is a grey area
that urgently needs some legislative changes or case law around it to
protect the privacy of individuals, unless of course they are engaging
in anti-social or some other illegal activity. The rights or safe
harbour provisions for entities that hosts sites containing user
generated content is also another grey area.

So, I don't think there is an easy answer to this one, but clearly
there has to be trust between employee and employer. Published
guidelines will go some way to helping protect both parties, as a
starting point.

This takes me to my next point, that the process of creating social
media policies is as important as the policy itself. I've blogged
about this before here http://www.headshift.com/au/2009/05/zen-and-the-art-of-social-medi.php
and you might find this overview of Intel's approach interesting here
http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2010/02/intels_social_media_employee_t.html

We also discuss this in the Project 8 guidelines on pp.64-65 - see
also my point 2 below.

Now there are a couple of things I haven't seen discussed so far is:

1. The distinction between different types of online engagement and
the relative risks of each (see the Project 8 guidelines for more on
this). I think for the most part we are talking about policy
consultation level interactions or advice about specific rules or
regulations that someone might make an important personal or
commercial decision about. However, not all types of online
interaction are of this type (or 'genre') - if we take this into
account we can also see why the US Navy is able to release its
guidelines, because these guys aren't just talking about policy
interactions.

BTW I'm not suggesting that you manage things seperately ... if you
aren't familiar with this story, its worth reading about Eurostar's
recent experience of trying to keep social media marketing separate
from the rest of their customer engagement
http://www.mediaweek.co.uk/news/981510/Crisis-marketing-When-going-gets-tough/

This YouTube also might challenge your views on the different between
social media interactions being 'on the record' vs traditional
interactions being sage - [UK's] CSA - Child Support Agency Admit a
mistake
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6vqCGhJBK4

2. As well as policies and 'culture' change, what about the
organisational structures that might be needed to support Gov 2.0?

See pp.60-64 of the Project 8 Online Engagement Guidelines for a
discussion of this topic, looking at three model structures:

"* A co-ordinated approach, where one group or department within an
agency leads the engagement but liaises closely with different areas
to both co-ordinate activities and communication or to access
specialist resources (e.g. technical specialists).
* An integrated approach, where a project team or a specific
department is created to deliver online engagement and all directly
related activities, such as all external communication or customer
service.
* An embedded approach, where different groups in the agency operate
in a self-directed manner, co-ordinating where required but otherwise
operating under generally agreed strategies, policies and practices
for online engagement."

We also mention the ATO:

"Case Example: The Australian Tax Office (ATO) is a good example of
the co-ordinated approach. They have established internal policies for
ensuring the use of social media externally is aligned with a business
line communication strategy and has measures of success defined, is
approved by their Online Marketing Team and if necessary has clearance
from their internal Legal Services group. Every online engagement
project is also recorded and its outcomes tracked in a central
register, for the purposes of information and knowledge sharing."

3. The role of citizen-to-citizen engagement and the issues this might
create.

Finally, where does citizen-to-citizen engagement. I recently saw
someone - on a private online forum - help someone navigate to a
particular resource on a government Website. Should we be firing off
cease and desist emails to them, in case they point them to the wrong
page and perhaps insist the person asking for help write a letter
instead? :-)

Ok. That's all for now!

James

-

James Dellow
--------------------------------------------------
HEADSHIFT >>
http://www.headshift.com
M: +61 414 233711 Skype: james.dellow Twitter: chieftech
--------------------------------------------------
smarter > simpler > social >

Cris

unread,
18 Feb 2010, 00:49:2718/02/2010
to Gov2.0Australia
Everyone
Fantastic discussion for it shows the various elements and issues we
face in granting staff access. I like James have come late.

My main issue is not if staff should have access but whom. Not all
staff would have the techniques required to engage and communicate
effectively. I also wonder about the ongoing two-way conversation and
the expectancy of the external clients. Our external clients would
love to discuss their lives, their requirements, their need for
further financial assistance and how the department may or may not
have met their requirements. If this conversation is entered into it
must be maintained or clients could will feel abandoned and dissuaded;
we have evidence of this under the current tool set used to engage.

This week I was asked by the Minister's Office for access to SM sites.
It seems this is a grey area and needs clarification for the
guidelines do not address the issue of MOs utilising departmental
assets for engagement. Obviously access can be granted, monitored as
much as possible and once care-taker mode has commenced assess is
removed. But a measure of faith and trust is required. Interactivity
with clients does not necessarily mean SM sites. It could be just
online services being more interactive and user requirements driven.

Overall I wonder about this engagement, the business requirements, the
client's desire for a closer relationship and the mandatory
recordkeeping component of trying to store the conversations whether
moderated or not. As public servants we have a requirement under the
Archives Act to record and store community engagement, general and
ministerial correspondence and general governance activity.


Cris


On 17 Feb, 11:47, chieftech <james.del...@gmail.com> wrote:
> I've come late to this thread, so I've been trying to get my head
> around the various issues raised. I also apologise in advance for such
> a long reply!
>
> In summary, I've picked up points about:
>
> * Legal and risk management
> * Community expectations (hard advice vs FYI), the traditional media
> and responsibilities of the community when engaging online with
> government
> * Participating in social media in an official vs unofficial/personal
> capacity
> * Attributes of social media - statement and comments are permanently
> on the record
> * Comparison with other communication channels
> * Guidelines and the development of social media guidelines
> * There is also a related issue of why aren't more people discussing
> Gov 2.0, but I'm going to put that to one side.
>
> The first point I want to raise, and I mentioned this in Canberra the
> other week, is that many of the issues faced by government and
> government employees are also faced by the commercial sector too.
> There is no doubt that government is an easy and popular target for
> the media, however, being in the wrong place at the wrong time can be
> equally disastrous for any business. The traditional media isn't
> making this easier - Laurel Papworth wrote this great post discussing

> the problem of Journogger the other dayhttp://laurelpapworth.com/journoggers-journalists-that-blog/


> which gets at this point:
>
> "Bloggers use a “negative” story as a jumping off point for them to
> give advice, of varying expertise/passion/usefulness, to demonstrate
> their skill and knowledge in a particular subject.  Journoggers simply
> maximise the distress of the situation. So if you see a post referring
> to someone being an idiot on Twitter, by tweeting that they hate their
> client or something, a blogger will usually give “advice” on why
> social media guidelines are useful, or why transparency is positive or
> how Gen Z think it’s a fair tweet. Journalists will hold them up for
> ridicule, expecting comments that are inflammatory (then faking shock
> when they have nastiness on their site). Set the tone and topic as
> toxic then shake their head at the great unwashed."
>
> Also, the behaviour of employees online - even if unrelated to their
> day job - can land them in hot water. Its also not just that you are
> always an member of the APS, if you are an employee then you need to

> serve your employee... e.g.http://www.laclawyers.com.au/document/Employment-Law-__-Employee-and-...


>
> Personally I think the public-private divide online is a grey area
> that urgently needs some legislative changes or case law around it to
> protect the privacy of individuals, unless of course they are engaging
> in anti-social or some other illegal activity. The rights or safe
> harbour provisions for entities that hosts sites containing user
> generated content is also another grey area.
>
> So, I don't think there is an easy answer to this one, but clearly
> there has to be trust between employee and employer. Published
> guidelines will go some way to helping protect both parties, as a
> starting point.
>
> This takes me to my next point, that the process of creating social
> media policies is as important as the policy itself. I've blogged

> about this before herehttp://www.headshift.com/au/2009/05/zen-and-the-art-of-social-medi.php
> and you might find this overview of Intel's approach interesting herehttp://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2010/02/intels_social_media_employee_t.html


>
> We also discuss this in the Project 8 guidelines on pp.64-65 - see
> also my point 2 below.
>
> Now there are a couple of things I haven't seen discussed so far is:
>
> 1. The distinction between different types of online engagement and
> the relative risks of each (see the Project 8 guidelines for more on
> this). I think for the most part we are talking about policy
> consultation level interactions or advice about specific rules or
> regulations that someone might make an important personal or
> commercial decision about. However, not all types of online
> interaction are of this type (or 'genre') - if we take this into
> account we can also see why the US Navy is able to release its
> guidelines, because these guys aren't just talking about policy
> interactions.
>
> BTW I'm not suggesting that you manage things seperately ... if you
> aren't familiar with this story, its worth reading about Eurostar's
> recent experience of trying to keep social media marketing separate

> from the rest of their customer engagementhttp://www.mediaweek.co.uk/news/981510/Crisis-marketing-When-going-ge...


>
> This YouTube also might challenge your views on the different between
> social media interactions being 'on the record' vs traditional
> interactions being sage - [UK's] CSA - Child Support Agency Admit a

> mistakehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6vqCGhJBK4

Lisah

unread,
18 Feb 2010, 19:57:5718/02/2010
to Gov2.0Australia
Hi James

Can I ask you a few more questions about the three models? Where:

1."* A co-ordinated approach
2.* An integrated approach
3.* An embedded approach,

is it fair to say:

1 = conversation is held through one official account ie @xwy,
controlled/administered by Social Media group who co-ordinates
incoming and outgoing posts
2 = conversation is held through several accounts ie Engagement@xwy;
Board@xwy;Executive@xwy, Social Media group registers accounts and
monitors but each group able to post outgoing inline with xwy & APSC
policies.
3 = conversation is held person to person ie lisa.howdin(Assistant
Director: Blah Mgt)@xwy, all allowed to post incoming and outgoing
inline with xwy & APSC Guidelines.

And do you know of any examples for each case?


On Feb 17, 11:47 am, chieftech <james.del...@gmail.com> wrote:
> I've come late to this thread, so I've been trying to get my head
> around the various issues raised. I also apologise in advance for such
> a long reply!
>
> In summary, I've picked up points about:
>
> * Legal and risk management
> * Community expectations (hard advice vs FYI), the traditional media
> and responsibilities of the community when engaging online with
> government
> * Participating in social media in an official vs unofficial/personal
> capacity
> * Attributes of social media - statement and comments are permanently
> on the record
> * Comparison with other communication channels
> * Guidelines and the development of social media guidelines
> * There is also a related issue of why aren't more people discussing
> Gov 2.0, but I'm going to put that to one side.
>
> The first point I want to raise, and I mentioned this in Canberra the
> other week, is that many of the issues faced by government and
> government employees are also faced by the commercial sector too.
> There is no doubt that government is an easy and popular target for
> the media, however, being in the wrong place at the wrong time can be
> equally disastrous for any business. The traditional media isn't
> making this easier - Laurel Papworth wrote this great post discussing

> the problem of Journogger the other dayhttp://laurelpapworth.com/journoggers-journalists-that-blog/


> which gets at this point:
>
> "Bloggers use a “negative” story as a jumping off point for them to
> give advice, of varying expertise/passion/usefulness, to demonstrate
> their skill and knowledge in a particular subject.  Journoggers simply
> maximise the distress of the situation. So if you see a post referring
> to someone being an idiot on Twitter, by tweeting that they hate their
> client or something, a blogger will usually give “advice” on why
> social media guidelines are useful, or why transparency is positive or
> how Gen Z think it’s a fair tweet. Journalists will hold them up for
> ridicule, expecting comments that are inflammatory (then faking shock
> when they have nastiness on their site). Set the tone and topic as
> toxic then shake their head at the great unwashed."
>
> Also, the behaviour of employees online - even if unrelated to their
> day job - can land them in hot water. Its also not just that you are
> always an member of the APS, if you are an employee then you need to

> serve your employee... e.g.http://www.laclawyers.com.au/document/Employment-Law-__-Employee-and-...


>
> Personally I think the public-private divide online is a grey area
> that urgently needs some legislative changes or case law around it to
> protect the privacy of individuals, unless of course they are engaging
> in anti-social or some other illegal activity. The rights or safe
> harbour provisions for entities that hosts sites containing user
> generated content is also another grey area.
>
> So, I don't think there is an easy answer to this one, but clearly
> there has to be trust between employee and employer. Published
> guidelines will go some way to helping protect both parties, as a
> starting point.
>
> This takes me to my next point, that the process of creating social
> media policies is as important as the policy itself. I've blogged

> about this before herehttp://www.headshift.com/au/2009/05/zen-and-the-art-of-social-medi.php
> and you might find this overview of Intel's approach interesting herehttp://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2010/02/intels_social_media_employee_t.html


>
> We also discuss this in the Project 8 guidelines on pp.64-65 - see
> also my point 2 below.
>
> Now there are a couple of things I haven't seen discussed so far is:
>
> 1. The distinction between different types of online engagement and
> the relative risks of each (see the Project 8 guidelines for more on
> this). I think for the most part we are talking about policy
> consultation level interactions or advice about specific rules or
> regulations that someone might make an important personal or
> commercial decision about. However, not all types of online
> interaction are of this type (or 'genre') - if we take this into
> account we can also see why the US Navy is able to release its
> guidelines, because these guys aren't just talking about policy
> interactions.
>
> BTW I'm not suggesting that you manage things seperately ... if you
> aren't familiar with this story, its worth reading about Eurostar's
> recent experience of trying to keep social media marketing separate

> from the rest of their customer engagementhttp://www.mediaweek.co.uk/news/981510/Crisis-marketing-When-going-ge...


>
> This YouTube also might challenge your views on the different between
> social media interactions being 'on the record' vs traditional
> interactions being sage - [UK's] CSA - Child Support Agency Admit a

> mistakehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6vqCGhJBK4

chieftech

unread,
21 Feb 2010, 22:29:1721/02/2010
to Gov2.0Australia
Lisa,

Not really :-)

The three models primarily relate to organisational structure (and the
roles and reporting lines defined in that structure) and so it doesn't
necessarily define what an agency's social media channels look like
from the outside, but rather their ability to use them in a particular
way and what technologies they are able to make use of.

You can still have people responding online as individuals
representing their agency using a co-ordinated or integrated approach,
but the question then becomes who is allowed to interact online, for
what purpose and does that approach give them access to all the
resources they need to do this properly.

Some of this actually relates to access to *internal* collaboration
tools. Without them you are relying on traditional communication tools
and a hierarchical approach to synchronise activity, which IMHO even
with the right policies makes the embedded approach difficult achieve
in practice.

The Eurostar incident from Christmas is an interesting one to consider
in the context of organisational structures:

As hundreds of Eurostar passengers languish, Eurostar ignores Twitter
http://eu.techcrunch.com/2009/12/19/as-hundreds-of-eurostar-passengers-languish-eurostar-ignores-twitter/

In this case Eurostar hadn't really engaged online except for
marketing through a third-party, so when a crisis happened they
weren't prepared to respond. Even applying a co-ordinated approach,
this could have been dealt with a little more effectively with some
planning. Of course, you may not be able to plan for every conceivable
crisis using this model.

James

John Sheridan

unread,
23 Feb 2010, 10:54:2723/02/2010
to Gov2.0Australia
I've been meaning to post this for a while but haven't had a chance so
while it is a bit stale, it may still be of some interest.

IMHO, APS members' use of social media can take one of three forms:
official, professional, or personal.

Official - use of social media to post official departmental comments
- for example, my response to various IT news website articles, and
the subsequent comments by readers (see
http://www.itnews.com.au/News/166172,feds-eye-windows-7-security-in-desktop-refresh.aspx
or http://www.zdnet.com.au/news/hardware/soa/Government-issues-400m-desktop-tender/0,130061702,339300732,00.htm?omn),
is done in my official capacity - I identify myself and my role
clearly and use my work email address. To do so, a public servant
would probably be the responsible officer for an activity and his/her
agency would have guidelines that allow such comments or rely for
guidance on those from the APSC. The content is factual, not opinion,
and responses are likely to be limited to providing explanations or
addressing errors of fact, misquotes, etc. A relatively small number
of APS members will probably make official statements, but quite
possibly more than do now.

Professional - a public servant posting in their personal capacity on
a matter in which they have some expertise, possibly relating to their
job. They might be identifiable as an APS member but would be more
likely to use their personal email address/profile than their work
address. You could compare this usage of social media with speeches at
professional conferences, papers in professional journals, etc. Such
online comments would most likely not to be made in work time,
although some agencies allow reasonable personal use or incidental use
of the internet which could be utilised for a few minutes during
working hours or maybe longer during lunch, etc. These comments might
reflect general experience gained at work or perhaps refer to de-
identified incidents or matters already in the public domain, etc. If
some comment is controversial, reasonable people will realise that it
isn't an offical statement. More APS members will make professional
comment than do official comment but the number will still be limited
- more because of personal preference than any imposed limits.

Personal - comments on a subject not related to work - a football
team, a hobby or just Facebook chat. The most used profile for such
comments is again likely to be linked to a personal not a work email
address. Many APS members will participate online in their personal
capacity - and are probably doing so now.

In all cases, as pointed out earlier in the thread, public servants
remain bound by the APS Code of Conduct, values, etc. However, it's
useful to remember that it was ever thus. The channel is changing -
not the required behaviour. Over 200,000 federal government employees
have access to email now and yet they generally don't utilise it
inappropriately - just like they don't write inappropriate letters to
the editor, as a rule, or leak information, in all but a few cases. In
my experience, most don't find these constraints restrictive - and
those that do, generally leave. Because those that remain well
understand the requirements, they are careful not to cross the
boundaries and are likely to continue, and can be trusted, to behave
responsibly.

Regards

John

On Feb 22, 2:29 pm, chieftech <james.del...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Lisa,
>
> Not really :-)
>
> The three models primarily relate to organisational structure (and the
> roles and reporting lines defined in that structure) and so it doesn't
> necessarily define what an agency's social media channels look like
> from the outside, but rather their ability to use them in a particular
> way and what technologies they are able to make use of.
>
> You can still have people responding online as individuals
> representing their agency using a co-ordinated or integrated approach,
> but the question then becomes who is allowed to interact online, for
> what purpose and does that approach give them access to all the
> resources they need to do this properly.
>
> Some of this actually relates to access to *internal* collaboration
> tools. Without them you are relying on traditional communication tools
> and a hierarchical approach to synchronise activity, which IMHO even
> with the right policies makes the embedded approach difficult achieve
> in practice.
>
> The Eurostar incident from Christmas is an interesting one to consider
> in the context of organisational structures:
>

> As hundreds of Eurostar passengers languish, Eurostar ignores Twitterhttp://eu.techcrunch.com/2009/12/19/as-hundreds-of-eurostar-passenger...


>
> In this case Eurostar hadn't really engaged online except for
> marketing through a third-party, so when a crisis happened they
> weren't prepared to respond. Even applying a co-ordinated approach,
> this could have been dealt with a little more effectively with some
> planning. Of course, you may not be able to plan for every conceivable
> crisis using this model.
>
> James
>
> On Feb 19, 11:57 am, Lisah <lisahow...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>
>
> > Hi James
>
> > Can I ask you a few more questions about the three models? Where:
>
> > 1."* A co-ordinated approach
> > 2.* An integrated approach
> > 3.* An embedded approach,
>
> > is it fair to say:
>
> > 1 = conversation is held through one official account ie @xwy,
> > controlled/administered by Social Media group who co-ordinates
> > incoming and outgoing posts
> > 2 = conversation is held through several accounts ie Engagement@xwy;
> > Board@xwy;Executive@xwy, Social Media group registers accounts and
> > monitors but each group able to post outgoing inline with xwy & APSC
> > policies.
> > 3 = conversation is held person to person ie lisa.howdin(Assistant
> > Director: Blah Mgt)@xwy, all allowed to post incoming and outgoing
> > inline with xwy & APSC Guidelines.
>

> > And do you know of any examples for each case?- Hide quoted text -
>
> - Show quoted text -

chieftech

unread,
23 Feb 2010, 19:20:2523/02/2010
to Gov2.0Australia
John,

I agree broadly with your break down and unfortunately we often
discuss them with all types lumped together, when in fact we need to
tease out the particular issues that relate to each.

If I was to add one further nuance, it would be to distinguish between
some of the different forms of official use - e.g. policy statements
or responding to the media vs service delivery (e.g. providing
customer service).

James

Reply to all
Reply to the author
Forward
0 new messages