GovBytes: Will Government Agencies Adopt Google+?

This summer, Google decided to take a stab at the social networking market, and created “Google+”. After accumulating over 18 million users in just a few months, it is reasonable to believe that Google+ is on the way to being as popular as other social networking sites such as Twitter, Foursquare, and Facebook.

So now the question is…

Will Government Agencies Adopt Google Plus?

According to an article on “Government Technology”, the answer is “not quite yet”.

“Businesses and organizations can’t really have an official presence there because [Google Plus] — as it is now — wants to keep all the accounts as personal accounts,” said Lee Yount, a program analyst for the Catawba County, N.C., Technology Department. “But that creates quite the challenge for business organizations for external means of communication to the public.”

Yount said his department is potentially interested in using Google Plus when the time — and features — are right.

Supporters of Google+ claim that its features, such as organizing contacts into “circles” and chatting with groups in “huddles” and “hangouts”, are ideal for organizing and managing content distribution. On the other hand, Google+ has major privacy issues that need to be sorted out if government agencies want to use them, and it is yet another social media account that needs to be monitored.

As a government employee, what do you think? Will your agency adopt Google+?


“GovBytes” is a blog series created by GovLoop in partnership with Government Technology. If you see great a story on Gov Tech and want to ask a question around it, please send it to [email protected]

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Chris Poirier

So, I’ll ask the obvious question here (again) if “google has massive privacy issues” what social media options currently DON’T have the same issues. (if anyone says Facebook, twitter, youtube, etc..you’re wrong..the issues are exactly the same..and technically Google’s controls are even MORE available then the previously mentioned options…so..yeah…about that…) To go one step further, Google Apps for Gov has, some how, been cleared for use at GSA..one would assume the issues would translate into their considerations of switching to Google apps yet no one has come forward on that discussion either.

…and discuss (..*walks away leaving spinning hand gernade on the table*..)

Chris Poirier

I agree with @Dennis .. the issues of security, privacy, etc are all policy hurdles that ultimately can be overcome, one that may be more difficult is the cultural shift and/or acceptance of the tools use period.

John Janek


I think that’s part of it. The other part may be, “Is Google+ going to be part of Google’s public sector offerings?” If the service is offered as part of the Enterprise package, adhering to the FISMA scrutiny and the segregation offered by the public sector cloud, you might have a really compelling suite. For instance, why spend the time/money/energy to develop an internal-facing professional networking app if you can just subscribe to Google Public Sector and get it included?

Andrew Krzmarzick

I don’t see the value of Google+ to agencies at this time. Unlike the other social networks, it’s just obvious how an agency will work with the public.

The best idea I have for government right now: form a web-based focus group as a Circle and collaborate within it…but the key for Google+, I’d contend, is better integration the rest of the Google suite of apps.

Allison Primack

John, I agree with your ideas. What kinds of programs would you create for Google+ to make it complimentary to Google’s public service offerings?

Chris Poirier

@Andrew I think you miss the obvious benefit to Goolge+ as a social INTERNAL tool. Sure, it may not currently be the best platform to engage citizens directly, but it IS very well suited for internal collaboration internal to project teams, organizations, etc. (e.g., docs, huddles, flowing conversations, live chat, etc.) As you state though, it becomes even more powerful if directly integrated in their existing suite. (Just like @john’s point.) Granted public engagement can be a large piece of “social media” i feel internal coordination, facilitation, etc is equally powerful in a streamlined package like Google+

I will be curious to hear if it get’s “added” and/or “activated” for Google Apps for Gov. For if it does, in theory..it will meet the FISMA requirements etc..which most, if not ALL, other social media choices have yet to clear that hurdle.

Peter Meckiffe

Does the fact that Google as a major corporation, and given the fact that all information exchanged in Google+ is subject to Google’s intellectual property agreements, which you “tick” when you sign up to any google account, mean that government would automatically be deterred from using the tools provided on a wider scale? Given that widespread usage amongst government agencies could give Google a significant insight into the inner workings of Washington, would that not be something the government as a whole would abhor? I mean, you can control the training of individuals and tell them explicitly “DO NOT WRITE IMPORTANT STUFF TO COLLEAGUES ON GOOGLE+”, but whether they (being human) do or not is another matter.. Is this a risk Washington is willing to take?

And before the stern replies come in, personally I believe Google isn’t the evil company people often assume they are (although some evilness is there for sure), but as a casual government network for scheduling meetings and casual talk with peers I personally don’t see the problem, as all privacy policies apply to the whole internet surely? Unfortunately a government such as that in Washington… call me a pessimist but I don’t see them sharing this view.

Julie Chase

I’m in DoD, DoN, and no way. We can’t even get GovLoop on our work computers. Yes, GovLoop is BLOCKED, along with LINKEDIN. At my installation we do not have wireless anything and when asked, “security reasons” is always the answer. Google+, surely you jest. We can get to Facebook & YouTube, only because our installation has a page on FB and the MC Commandant utilizes YouTube for his annual Holiday safety message. It must be nice to be able to Network during the day at your work computers. <sigh>

Julie Chase

Thank you Peter, you stated that well. I wish others who have card blanche to their work computers during working hours would get it. The computers belong to UNCLE SAM, so do the gov provided cell phones, blackberries, ipads, etc. You can’t do what you want on them for “security reasons”. I’ll keep my personal cell phone and I wouldn’t want an employer provided phone. I know they pass ’em around like candy for GS05’s in DC. Me, no thanks.

Allison Primack

If you all are interested, you should check out Dick’s response on his thread about Google+. It seems from his response that agencies as a whole may not be able to adopt Google+, but individuals within the agency can use the features of the site to collaborate and connect with each other both in professional and social settings.