Express Exchange Engage
Just under couple of years ago I had a few words to say about the Taxation Office's Corporate Management Practice Statement on digital media. The document was in draft at that stage. Yes. It was the some old game. Create fear, uncertainty and doubt to shut people up.
Recently, I was asked to provide another party with my views on the latest version. Well, all up it has taken the Taxation Office just under three years to hone the documents into a weapon to shut people up.
This is not new of course. The majority of Australian Public Service agencies follow the guidance provided by the Public Service Commission. Be careful you might breach the APS Code of Conduct and, my favourite, Don't be so harsh in your criticism as to bring your agency or the APS into disrepute. Never mind that it's in the public interest to actually be talking about what is wrong and how the joint needs fixing up. And never mind that other pesky matter. The truth.
Here are some gems from the Corporate Management Practice Statement
Managers need to consider and manage situations where the relationship between an employee's professional interests and their ATO employment may create ambiguity about the capacity in which the employee’s comments are being made. In some circumstances, it may be necessary to direct the employee not to make a make a comment.
When using digital media (even in a private capacity) employees are expected to uphold the APS Values, APS Employment Principles, APS Code of Conduct and ATO Corporate Values. Unofficial use of digital media outside of work can still have consequences if inappropriate comments or actions (e.g. posting inappropriate images) are found to have a connection with your employment.
ATO personnel using digital media for communicating with audiences in an official or unofficial (professional or private) capacity are to adhere to this CMPS and associated CMPI. ATO personnel are also to adhere to the APS Values, APS Employment Principles, APS Code of Conduct and ATO Values as part of all digital communication. Failure to comply may result in consequences including but not limited to the removal of system access, official reprimand, disciplinary action, termination of employment and/or prosecution.
But wait. Just like those revolting TV commercials, there's more. There is the wonderful Corporate Management Practice instructions. More gems. More of the same.
Private use relates to the use of social media by ATO employees for private, non-work or job-related purposes in their own time using their own resources as private citizens, or using ATO IT facilities during work hours. This may include accessing and using your private Twitter account.
Must uphold the APS Values and Code of Conduct even when posting material anonymously, or using an ‘alias’ or pseudonym, and are to keep in mind that even if they do not identify themselves online as an ATO employee, they could still be recognised.
And I love these two,
The strengths of digital media also pose a threat to the ATO through the permanency, speed and reach of online communications.
While access to most social networking sites is blocked from the ATONet environment, unofficial use of social media outside of work can still have consequences if the comments are found to have a connection with your employment.
So the key messages are:
These are quite turgid documents to read. With than in mind I've extracted the 'lowlights' from the full documents.
If you want the full corporate experience I have also provided the complete documents.
Yep. That's the APS in 2013. With the Taxation Office leading the charge. Open, transparent and honest. Just make sure you are quiet about it. That way we get to hide our dirty linen and keep our vassals - oops, employees - under control.
What is most disconcerting about this state of affairs is the blatant attempt to censor legitimate conversation. This has no place in a modern public service and, quite frankly, is far from healthy. Practices such as these are not simply internal matters. They are a piece of the puzzle associated with a book I am writing.