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Sorry Access Denied…Huh?: Starting a Social Media Revolution


9:00 a.m. EST – It was a beautiful morning in Northern Virginia. Birds were chirping, the sun was shining, the coffee was just the way I liked it, creative juices were optimal, productivity was running at full steam. I finally found a decent embeddable poll for my blog and was ready to test it on my project review team (they’re spread out all the way across the country amongst several different public sectors).

1:00 p.m. EST – the poll went live, the emails went out, and I jotted off to Dunkin Donuts for an afternoon iced coffee. I returned to my office happy to see my inbox filling up with “done” messages from my team members. WONDERFUL…or so I thought… and then it happened….I double clicked and this is what I saw:

“I tried to go out to the site and this is the message I received:

Your organization’s Internet use policy restricts access to this web page at this time.

Reason: The Websense category “Personal Network Storage and Backup” is filtered.”

Really? What about the Gov 2.0 directive? What do you mean you can’t access our blog? We’re trying to get public feed back so that we can develop standards that are actually applicable. We need your feed back. Your agency supports that…right?


1:30 p.m. EST – headache, mental breakdown, revamp the business plan? What do you mean I can’t use social media to get feedback from my review team? Now what? Do I trash a month worth of researching the best embeddable poll? Do I have to use the old clunky e-mail and make the project……GASP….NOT TRANSPARENT!!!??

1:31 p.m. EST – emergency meeting with my supervisor. What do you mean I might have to use one forum for public sector (government) feedback and another for the general public???

1:40 p.m. EST – THAT’S IT I’VE HAD IT!!!!!


“So what are you planning to do tonight Brain?”

“The same thing I do every night, Pinky. I’m planning to take over the world”

1:45 p.m. EST – E-mail my review team and encourage them to use this as an example to their organization to change their policy against social media. I mean, hey, it worked for one of our board members and her local agency….

“Sigh” – on second thought these are volunteers…am I asking to much?

“Shout” – heck no…start a REVOLUTION!


This is a perfect example of how just one person can begin to push for change from the bottom up. The project that I am currently working on hinges on critical public feedback to generate support, buy-in, and in the end, a relevant final product.

What kind of experience or challenges have you faced trying to use social media as a way to gain feedback from your organization, agency, or the general public? Have you hit the same brick wall…and if so, how big was the sledge hammer you had to use to knock it down?

Your feedback is appreciated….



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Terrence (Terry) Hill

I can’t comment because I’m blocked from access to GovLoop at work. It’s a shame, but we are restricted from using any social media or survey sites for security reasons, plus we really don’t want to hear what employees think.

Candace Riddle

@Terry – scratch that…I see you’re at DHS…so…lets pose this question:

Can you think of a time that having access to social media would have helped improve your internal process or furthered your mission? Be specific 🙂

Keith Moore

Great, Perfect and Timely. True story. I am in Savannah River at a DOE site in a senior Director’s office and they try and pull up http://www.opengovtv.com, and he was blocked from accessing the site. Same location, different site, I learned that emails that were sent on behalf of a company and for 4 hours we wondered why after several attempts the email with attachments that fialed to show up. So we resolved to use her gmail address. SBA and other agencies have the same problem. So if you really want to start a revolution please call me at 2020-449-7705 or let’s meet up for coffee. My office is one block from Metro Center. Let’s get this Revolution started.

Timing is everything and with what we are trying to do to find a solution to economic woes, a social media revolution is what is needed.
Thanks Candace.

Jenyfer Johnson

I’m allowed to access Facebook and Twitter on Shaw AFB (Air Combat Command) but am blocked from accessing GovLoop. I’m working with them to try to get that changed right now! I think it’s so stupid!

Candace Riddle

@Jenyfer – Why are you allowed on FB and Twitter but not GovLoop? I wonder if it is similar to a policy I had to follow when I worked in finance….We could post on twitter and facebook because the content was “rolling content”, as in it changed as it updated…We couldn’t post to blogs or other webpages because the content was permanent…
Needless to say I was a bit of a rebel there too and resorted to pulling out FINRA’s Notice 10-06. It turns out that my company only told us that we couldn’t use social networking for business because they didn’t want to have to find a way to track it…to meet the requirements that FINRA had put out.

Avatar photo Bill Brantley

Been there; done that; sit outside the Starbucks down the street with my netbook to get work done.

Might I suggest Hacking Work?

“One of the ten breakthrough ideas for 2010.” — Harvard Business Review


Great post. I’ve found part of the problem is the lack of understanding in the evolution of web/internet. The line between a blog (still considered bad/blocked at some agency) and a news site is basically none – note the Huffington Post. Same with social as with Facebook Connect, FB like buttons on every site – what’s really not a social network?

Susan Hess

Well said Candice! Loved it! I like you believe that unless we fundementally change the way we not only THINK but EXECUTE doing “business” in the Gov sector we will be our own worst enemy. If we don’t start to look “outside the gov box” in regards to social media and a plethora of other areas (which I am quite happy that Mullen was on the cover of WIRED in May gives me hope) we will never become efficient and will continue to try to reinvent the wheel and consequently fail at the expense of the taxpayer. Thank you for your wonderful post.

Faye Newsham

Do I dare ask if you’ve submitted the appropriate PRA paperwork for the blog – poll? If you haven’t seen or worked with it previously, we had a 5 question survey which took over 12 months to get approved by the paperwork reduction act folks… admittedly prior to Obama, but PRA hasn’t changed that much!