DOD social-media policy still in limbo

Well-constructed approach key to digital-era federal operations

The Defense Department is close to laying out an enterprisewide social-networking policy, according to one DOD official who expects a final meeting this month for the team negotiating that strategy.

Responsible utilization and joint ethical standards are driving the establishment of an official DOD social-media policy, said Defense Deputy Chief Information Officer Dave Wennergren. A review weighing the benefits and risks of using social-networking technology was expected to be released months ago, but the department so far has remained mum on formal departmentwide guidelines.

“The Internet has happened, and we are hopelessly wedded to it,” Wennergen said, stressing the need for a cautious and balanced approach to forming policy. “We need to look at this as Internet-based capabilities rather than just social networking. This is more than just for ‘quality of life’ [for deployed soldiers]. These tools are for broader use than people realize,” he said.

Social networking has yielded the ability for mass collaboration across agencies and non-federal entities, and is integral to modernizing federal operations and mobilizing information sharing, Wennergren said.

Still, a cohesive and comprehensive social-media strategy is just part of the “democratization of data,” Wennergren said, adding that successful modern federal operations in the digital age hinge on six key points:

  • Sharing information “relentlessly” and securely.
  • Keeping up with technological advances.
  • Changing the existing model for information sharing.
  • Recognizing that “the future has happened" and making full use of the technologies.
  • Behaving like an enterprise.
  • Doing everything possible to be transparent.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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