Department of Veterans Affairs issues new social media policy

VA logoThe Department of Veterans Affairs  has over 100 Facebook pages, more than 50 Twitter feeds, two blogs, a YouTube channel, a Flickr page — and now, an official social media policy which “encourages the adoption and use of social media by VA employees,” according to this VA press release from last week.

Among the interesting features of the new policy:

  • It jumps right in and declares at the outset: “The use of Web-based collaboration tools such as social media tools is highly encouraged. Web-based collaboration is intended for information sharing within and outside of VA. To increase accountability, promote informed participation by the public, and create economic opportunity, the presumption shall be in favor of openness…”
  • It clearly lays out the business case: “VA endorses the secure use of Web-based collaboration tools to enhance communication, collaboration, information exchange, and citizen engagement; streamline processes; and foster productivity improvements, when it is done in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and policies. Web-based collaboration tools enable widely dispersed facilities and VA staffs to more effectively collaborate and share information to achieve greater productivity, efficiency, and innovation.”
  • And it backs up that “presumption… in favor of openness…” by insisting that “VA entities will promote accessibility of collaboration tools.”  While it leaves open the option for local leadership to limit or block access to certain sites if they “intrude upon business operations,” in those cases they are required to notify the “designated office for Web oversight, the Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology, and the Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs and provide justification for the denial.”
If you’d like to check out how the VA is using social media, check out our local South Texas Veterans Health Care System’s Facebook page and Twitter stream, as well as many other social media efforts in this VA-wide social media directory.
Update [2011-08-25 08:15 CDT]: here’s some insightful analysis of the VA’s new policy by Alex Howard on his Gov 2.0 blog.

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