Monday 11 Oct 2021 | 09:37 | SYDNEY
Monday 11 Oct 2021 | 09:37 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: Blogging bureaucrats

3 August 2010 14:15

Rafe Andrews responds to Sam Roggeveen's post about the reluctance of public servants to get involved in social media:

I'm not a public servant but I have come across several in online forums, often in non-policy contexts. The fear is palpable and absurd. They are extremely wary of identifying their department, even when discussing things unrelated to their work, even from behind the relative security of online pseudonyms.

Often I think they're just being paranoid or silly. But it's not their fault, if that's the impression they've got from the higher-ups.

I hope Nicholas Gruen's task force can address this and help build a culture that encourages interaction. As a student of international relations at the moment, I hope to go into the public service; it would be sad if on arrival I had to hang up my keyboard. Extending some of the APS's supposed frankness and fearlessness to letting expert officials take some kudos for recommending good articles would be, as you suggest, a start. At any rate, it seems to me unlikely to bring down the government.

And by the way, here's the relevant section of the APS Values and Code of Conduct, and the circular announcing the latest additions. It seems to encourage debate, but you can see how the impression of discouragement would form. For example, public servant should engage in robust debate so as to 'open up' decision making, but should 'consider carefully' (dun dun dun!) whether to identify their employment in doing so. I find it hard to see how the debate can open up decision making if we aren't even to know who the speaker is or where they're from.