UK government plan to recruit director of digital engagement ridiculed by opposition

Filed as News on February 23, 2009 7:23 am

The British government’s plan to appoint a director of digital engagement, with responsibility for overseeing a move to engage more with citizens through social media and other digital technology, has been ridiculed by the main opposition party.

The central government job has been created “in recognition of the huge increase in the use of the internet, digital communities and social media” and “will work across Government departments to encourage, support and challenge them in moving from communicating to citizens on the web to conversing and collaborating with them through digital technology.”

The circa £120,000 ($174,000) per year salary for this three-year contract is probably the most questionable aspect of the role, and warrants some accusation by the Tories of it being a “grotesque amount of public money”. However, to brand it a “pointless job” and to devalue it by suggesting it’s simply about “ministers… faffing around on Facebook and Twitter” misses the point.

Twitter has leapt in popularity among “the masses” since high profile celebrities started publicising it, and a number of Members of Parliament already have accounts.

Similarly, a number of ministers maintain blogs. David Cameron (leader of the Conservative party) has even been known to make (much parodied) video diaries. Presumably, he’s just “faffing around” with a video camera when he should be concentrating on finishing the washing-up and getting out into his constituency?

The fact is, there are many government departments that act like dinosaurs. A central advocate that encourages staff at all levels to consider relevant ways of communicating and engaging with those that will be voting for (or against) them can’t be a bad move in itself.

“This role is not for everyone – success will be achieved by influence and encouragement, not by issuing instructions from the centre,” suggests the vacancy description.

I certainly don’t expect ministers to be wasting time throwing sheep at each other in Facebook when they should be working, but that’s not what this job is advocating. It wouldn’t hurt to cut some of the bureaucracy and outdated methods of communication in favour of more honest, transparent and modern ones.

(Via Brand Republic)

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