New Government of Canada policies related to social media


Recently the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat released two very important documents, which finally put some meat into the pro-collaboration and engagement statements frequently being made by both the Clerk of the Privy Council as well as the President of the Treasury Board over the last few years.

In the world of TBS issued guidance documents there are frameworks, policies, directives, standards and guidelines (broadest to most specific). The two documents recently released include a policy on Acceptable Network and Device Use and a standard on Social Media Account Management.

Policy on Acceptable Network and Device Use

Effective: October 1, 2013

Key Objective: To ensure acceptable and efficient use of Government of Canada electronic networks and devices to support enhanced communication and collaboration thereby improving productivity, and program and service delivery to individuals and businesses.

Expected Results:

  • Authorized individuals use Government of Canada electronic networks and devices in an acceptable manner; and
  • Authorized individuals have open access to the Internet including Government of Canada and external Web 2.0 tools and services, in accordance with the Policy on Government Security.

Responsibility area of: Deputy Heads

Standard on Social Media Account Management

Effective: April 1, 2013

Key Objective: To enable a strategic and coherent approach for the management of Government of Canada official social media accounts

Expected Results:

  • Official social media accounts are clearly identified as Government of Canada accounts
  • Official social media accounts are effectively managed within departments and at the Government of Canada-wide level; and
  • Opportunities are enhanced for communications, service delivery and collaboration through the use of official social media accounts

Responsibility area of: Heads of Communication

This is good news

While I fully realize that there is still a lot of work to be done before the expected results are reached (especially in the departments that have lagged in social media engagement to date), I think that the mere existence of the two documents will drastically expedite the process. The “requirements” section on both documents clearly lays out what needs to be done and by whom (especially the SM Account Management Standard). With Public Servant Performance Reviews dominating the headlines these days, I think this guidance will be taken more seriously than the existing and quite vague “Guideline on External Use of Web 2.0“.

To those of you that are working outside of Communications branches but currently have program specific accounts, don’t take this as bad news either. Judging by the language used in the SM Account Management Standard, it sounds as though the Government of Canada is increasingly moving towards a hub and spoke approach. While it is true that the Communications Branch in each department has been tasked with developing the overarching social media strategy, there is no reason why individual program areas and other branches can’t have their own strategies that roll-into the overarching organizational one.

I am very curious to see how these two new guidance documents are adhered to over the next 12 months. I’ll keep you posted based on what I see from my own clients.

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