Can’t we all just get along?

Privacy. Records management. Accessibility. Information Security. Paperwork Reduction Act. Administrative Procedures Act. Federal Advisory Committee Act.

If you’re trying to implement social media at a government agency, I’m betting at least one of those has you grinding your teeth and pulling out your hair.  And if you’re like most, you’re down to a few teeth and a combover.

I’m regularly asked “how do I get around all these restrictions?” And my regular answer is “don’t.”  Instead, go talk to the people responsible for those things.  They have jobs to do, just like you do.  And they’re important jobs, even if you haven’t learned why yet.

The key is to work with them before you must absolutely go live right now now now.  Ask them what they need.  Understand what they must accomplish.  Identify your common interests.  Here’s one: you both want your agency to have a positive reputation in your respective fields.

At EPA, we sat down with our attorneys two years ago and showed them YouTube.  There’s nothing like seeing lots of other pages with ads on them to help someone understand that YouTube users were going to understand that we didn’t place the ads and that they weren’t related to us in any way.  As it turned out, we ended up with a negotiated agreement that dumped the ads, but the point stands, because we’ve been using that same good relationship with our legal folks ever since.  They know we also want to help EPA avoid risk.  But they also know we respect them, and that they’re part of the team helping us accompish our goals.

Now, which is the most important policy to carry out?  On that point, the best thing I’ve ever read is Gwynne Kostin’s outstanding post, “What is the Most Important Thing?

Why are you still here?  You should be reading Gwynne’s piece.


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