New Internet Guidelines For Civil Servants: A Step In The Right Direction

UK civil servants have a new set of guidelines for working online, and they’re actually good!

The Guardian reported yesterday on a new set of guidelines released for British civil servants, laying out how they should interact with people on the web.

The new guidelines were revealed in a Parliamentary question on June 18.

On the face of it, they’re solid:

“Principles for participation online

  1. Be credible
    Be accurate, fair, thorough and transparent.
  2. Be consistent
    Encourage constructive criticism and deliberation. Be cordial, honest and professional at all times.
  3. Be responsive
    When you gain insight, share it where appropriate.
  4. Be integrated
    Wherever possible, align online participation with other offline communications.
  5. Be a civil servant
    Remember that you are an ambassador for your organisation. Wherever possible, disclose your position as a representative of your department or agency.”

These are great, right? Five simple, easy-to-understand principles for civil servants working online. Working in the public sector, I know that clear writing like this is rare.

This is just a first step, however. The Guardian didn’t mention an important part of the exchange:

“Our next challenge for the power of information taskforce is to develop more detailed guidelines to encourage civil servants to take the first steps to engage with online social networks.”

It looks like this is just a pre-cursor to something more substantial, but this is a step in the right direction.

Clear guidelines like the ones just published are just the kind of thing that governments need to help them deal with citizens today.

Let’s hope that the next set are just as good.