A few bons mots on Drupal, Facebook from DOE's new media director

Cammie Croft muses on the Energy Department's new blog and social media presence

There is more than meets the eye to the Energy Department’s new Energy Blog. What is different about the Energy Blog is that it was created using Drupal open-source software, according to Cammie Croft, DOE’s director of new media and citizen engagement. Croft adds that the rest of DOE’s Web site likely will be reconfigured using Drupal in the future.

DOE’s current information technology infrastructure was not dynamic enough to handle certain Web 2.0 technologies, so Drupal was a “common-sense” and inexpensive solution for providing the needed capabilities, Croft said in an interview.

The White House’s Web site converted to Drupal in November 2009, giving a boost to the open-source movement. Croft previously served as deputy new media director in the White House and was involved with that transition.

“We were very happy with the transition to Drupal," Croft told Federal Computer Week. "It gave us a lot more flexibility."


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“There is a significant advantage to utilizing a content management system with government precedent,” Croft added. “One of the nice things [about] open-source development is that others are using Drupal and developing code specific for government space. It is nice to type into those existing platforms and add to it.”

DOE debuted the Energy Blog, along with new presences on Facebook and Twitter, on July 20. And DOE’s new Facebook page has already weathered its first public debate.

A team of new media staff members are monitoring the new Facebook page and responding to comments from the public there. On July 20, visitors raised the question of whether DOE ought to disclose the names of those staffers.

“Who are the members of your new media team?” wrote a visitor to the DOE Facebook page July 20. “Your salaries are funded by We the People, so can you shed any light in the name of that transparency?”

“Don't think we need to know their names,” wrote another visitor. “It's cool if they want to tell us, but I don't think it's necessary.”

To date, those DOE employees have not been identified. Often, more than one person is involved in preparing a response, Croft said. Even so, she acknowledged that such policies may spark debate.

“I think communicating in this space is still very new for everyone across government, and there is going to be a significant learning curve," Croft said. "Of course, we want to be as cognizant as possible, and as transparent as possible, and do our due diligence to protect the public. There is going to be a learning curve, and we may not get it 100 percent right out of the gate."

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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