Saturday, October 20, 2012

NSW government consulting on their social media policy for public sector staff

It's good to see that the NSW Government has taken the step to consult the community and public service regarding the social media policy and guidance it is planning to put in place for agencies.

The consultation, visible at (which unfortunately only has comments from me right now) uses a forum-based approach to solicit comments.

I hope other Australian governments will take similar steps!

However more important than this specific consultation is the commitment behind it.

The NSW government has committed to adopt the principles of open government: transparency, participation, collaboration, and innovation through digital technologies.

They have committed to two actions under this related to social media:

  • Implement a whole of government policy that supports the use of social media for enhanced public engagement and service delivery 
  • Make reference guidelines available to agencies for public sector staff use of social media 

Finally they have committed to a move to greater public consultation on policy development.

Of course the devil is in the details - how these are implemented and whether the culture of the NSW public service is sufficiently supported and empowered to make the shift to a 2.0 public service.

FYI: my two comments were as follows - just in case they are useful to other agencies and governments (though need to be read in context of the consultations:

Have your say on the draft guidelines for agencies

None of this actually mandates or prompts agencies to provide effective guidance, training and support to staff. 
I advise mandating that all agencies:
1) Have a social media policy that aims to define how the agency will use social media in the course of its activities and make it clear to staff that social media engagement is encouraged and supported within the agency's context.
2) Provide guidance to staff regarding how they maintain a separation between their individual, professional and official positions in social media (such as disclaimers on personal/professional accounts where appropriate "All opinions mine.")
3) Provide guidance and support on appropriate conduct online and build awareness of applicable laws around defamation, abuse, etc
4) Integrate social media training into the workplans for all staff and specifically within induction processes to ensure that staff are equipped to engage online in a safe and professional manner and, where staff do not engage via social media, they are equipped to accurately identify and mitigate risks the agency may face through external social media conversations and the agency's engagement through social media
5) Conduct specific training for senior management, including hands-on experience using key social media channels, to ensure they are able to effectively govern and support the social media activities of the agency.

Have your say on the draft guidelines for public sector staff

The statement 'Respect privacy and confidentiality and only publish information that is or is approved to be in the public domain.' is extremely awkward and I'm not sure what it means. 
Taken in two pieces it state: 'Respect privacy and confidentiality and only publish information that is' and 'or is approved to be in the public domain.'' - the first part reads contrary to the meaning I think you intend. 
Better reworded as: 'Respect privacy and confidentiality. Only publish information that is approved to be in the public domain.'

1 comment:

  1. Fully agree with your comments. I am still working on our response.
    I like the goal of encouraging social media usage, but I think there needs to be a differentiation between the use of internal collaboration and external collaboration tools. In my mind both should be encouraged.

    I believe it will require a bit more than just a document to help agencies move into this "new" world.


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