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For the Canadian Federal Government…some social media catch up suggestions for 2010

Ok Canadian federal government…it is starting to look a little bleak on the social media landscape from a leadership perspective. And I certainly don’t mean that dedicated, bright, and to a certain degree brave set of leaders who have been eschewing the value of social media in government for some time now. I am talking about the EX-level and up in the GC that have been too busy, too unaware, or too entrenched.

You now have the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia (among others) who this month all announced impressive actions towards federal Open Government and Open Data for their respective jurisdictions.

I won’t debate the merits of each except to say that the Canadian federal government is not present in this discussion. Not at the moment. Will they be? Of course. They won’t have a choice. It is no longer just the dedicated and progressive GCers mentioned above moving the agenda forward, it is the leaders from the governments in which the Canadian federal government always measures themselves against. However, unlike some of the countries mentioned above, I have a tough time believing that if the Prime Minister dropped the flag tomorrow for charting a progressive policy and set of initiatives around open government that it would be done within a year. So, in the meantime, here’s a few suggestions for how the federal government can push forward in providing immediate leadership in 2010 while we all wait for the inevitable policy, standards, and directives to come about:

Performance Management Agreements (PMA)

Every EX in the government of Canada has a PMA in place that sets out what is expected of them by their boss in the coming year. Normally, there is a section on Key Commitments. Why not make the understanding of how social media can support business objectives of that individual and their organization an aspect of the Key Commitments section? This should be coupled with individuals executives involving themselves with at least one social media initiative in 2010. What outcomes will this drive:

- Helping hand for GC executives to understand social media and its benefits;
- a wide (and innovative) array of social media pilots and proof of concepts;
- executive experience and understanding that will be invaluable once Canada introduces a more sweeping social media policy.

Management Accountability Framework (MAF)

MAF has become a very powerful tool for senior leaders in government and they should be applauded for getting that framework in place. There are 21 Areas of Management in MAF and unfortunately none of them are titled Effective Innovation and Collaboration (AoM 22?). However, and understanding that this may seem like a silly request, but could those responsible for a variety of AoM’s that would have clear benefit from inclusion of social media not be adjusted for Round VIII? Of the top of my head AoM 3 (Corporate Management Structure), AoM 8 (Organizational Change), AoM 11 (Workforce), AoM 12 (Information Management), AoM 13 (Information Technology), and AoM 20 (Citizen-focused Service) could all have their lines of evidence adjusted to ensure social media is contemplated by responding organizations. (Hint…make it unrated for Round VIII.) What outcomes will this drive:

- Strong signal GC-wide about the important role of social media;
- opportunity to integrate PMA actions into evidence material for Round VIII;
- leverage and momentum for more progressive changes to MAF in later rounds.

Public Service Renewal Action Plan

It goes without saying that the next PSR Action Plan (and what will be the 17th Report from the Clerk this coming March) should be laced with commitments that can be made from the senior levels of the bureaucracy on what and how and by when they expect to integrate social media into the workplace, how they plan to move forward with innovation, and how they will be committed to a renewed and deeper level of collaboration and transparency for the public service. I am hopeful that that will occur. What outcomes will this drive:

- Appropriate signal from the highest level of leadership in the public service regarding the advancement of social media in government of Canada;
- condones the actions, enthusiasm, and leadership regarding social media taking place in and around the GC currently;
- implicitly and explicitly drives positive change by tackling the topic and setting out near term social media goals and actions for Canada.

Making adjustments and commitments via these three structural elements of the Canadian federal government would be profound and timely. It would send all of the right signals that, while Canada might not be the first across the goal line, it is out of the starting blocks. By their nature, of course, it would also be highly efficient given the enterprise nature of all 3 of these elements.

As our government friends in Australia have appropriately said regarding social media, let’s get on with it…

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