Tag Archives: Records management

Heritage Preservation After a Disaster…There’s An App For That!

Post by: Kim Stephens

Lori Foley of Heritage Preservation.org contacted me with information about a new “Emergency Response Salvage” App they developed for use by museums, libraries, archives and other cultural institutions on how to safeguard collections damaged by water–which could happen after a myriad of disasters including flood, fire, earthquakes, severe storms or even broken pipes.

The description from the App store states:

ERS outlines critical stages of disaster response, such as stabilizing the environment and assessing damage. It will help users protect precious collections and significant records, access reliable information instantly, and save damaged objects.

Developed by the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) and based on Heritage Preservation’s popular Emergency Response and Salvage Wheel, this app provides practical salvage tips for nine types of collections: photographs, books and documents, paintings, electronic records, textiles, furniture, ceramics/stone/metal, organic materials, and natural history specimens.

Be sure to pass this info along to organizations in your community!

Social Media Policy Concerns and Challenges – some content for the SMEM March Meeting

Post by: Kim Stephens with input from Lea Shanley
Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

Next week on Thursday, March 24, the  social media and emergency management (SMEM) initiative will host a joint day of learning and networking at the NEMA Mid-Year Conference. From the CrisisCommons wiki page: “SMEM volunteers will lead a day of open discussions to share best practices between practitioners as well as subject matter experts from academia and the private sector.”
Organizers have put together  a day that will allow for numerous break-out  sessions in order to focus on specific topics in-depth. Lea Shanley and I will be facilitating a session that addresses the topic of social media policy for public sector entities. We have proposed an objective for the session, with the hope that participants will edit it to include their expectations and what they hope to learn. As it stands now–quite simply:
To outline and identify policy concerns/challenges and legal constraints with regard to the use of social media within the emergency management community.”

What do we know?

This problem has been dealt with by many organizations, at the  local, state and federal level. This has given us quite a bit of background information and best practice examples. Lea and I have compiled some of the most relevant sources, (with help from a visit to sm4em.org and my own bibliography) and I’ve listed them in this post. Although the SMEM session probably will not cover every aspect detailed here, these sources are a great reference point for anyone looking to write a social media policy for their agency.

In particular, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) have a tab on their website detailing social media policy considerations. Some of these issues deal specifically with law enforcement, but most relate, at least tangentially, to all emergency response personnel.  The five key components they urge agencies to address:

  1. Scope. Determine what areas the policy needs to cover. Once the scope is determined, consider the areas below that apply to the areas you have chosen to cover in your policy.
  2. Official Use. Social media tools can be used for many purposes and are valuable for many day-to-day operational activities in law enforcement agencies. It is integral that authorization for and administration of any department sanctioned sites are clearly articulated.
  3. Personal Use. Content posted by law enforcement, even off-duty and under strict privacy settings, has the potential to be disseminated broadly and fall into the hands of defense attorneys, criminals, and members of the community. Any improper postings can ultimately affect an individual’s credibility, employment status, and their agency as a whole.
  4. Legal Issues. Issues such as First Amendment rights, records retention and public records laws, and other federal and state statutes must be considered while crafting a policy. Many legal issues surrounding social media have not yet been settled within the court system, so having clear guidelines in place becomes even more imperative.
  5. Related Policies. Many issues surrounding social media use may be resolved by citing other policies that are already in place within your agency, including Internet Use, Electronic Messaging, Code of Conduct, and Media Relations. The IACP’s National Law Enforcement Policy Center offers model policies on these topics.

Another potential concern not addressed by the IACP is “Terms of Service Agreements” with social media providers. The federal government (GSA in particular) has ironed out some of these issues and has a resource tab on the howto.gov website listing all of the relevant information. However, local and state governments are not included, per se, in those agreements with providers.  For state and local governments NASCIO and Attorneys General have Negotiated Model Facebook Agreement. This agreement addressed many concerns state and local governments had with Facebook’s terms of service, which in effect, could have eventually hindered their ability to use the platform:

“Facebook has specifically agreed to modify the provisions of its terms and conditions to:

  1. Strike the indemnity clause except to the extent indemnity is allowed by a state’s constitution or law;
  2. Strike language requiring that legal disputes be venued in California courts and adjudicated under California law;
  3. Require that a public agency include language directing consumers to its official Web site prominently on any Facebook page; and,
  4. Encourage amicable resolution between public entities and Facebook over any disputes.
  5. All of these modifications will immediately apply to state and local government agencies already on Facebook. “
Example Policies
There are numerous state, local and non-governmental agency (as well as business) sample policies on the internet. In addition, there are numerous articles that outline policy concerns that should be addressed before implementing a social media communications strategy. Quite a few of these resources are written with the federal government in mind, however, they are worth a look for state and locals since some of the issues are quite similar.
Records Storage:

How to Design a Policy:

Best Practices & Examples:

Other Related Articles and blog posts:

I hope to see in you in D.C.!

Is content generated on a social media platform a government record?

Logo of the United States National Archives (t...

Image via Wikipedia

Post by: Kim Stephens

I have gotten comments on this blog from citizens engaged in social media who are very disappointed about local government’s inability to “jump in the social media pool.”  These technologies are very simple to use, 13 year olds are proficient, so why not?  Of course, the government is not a private citizen and is required to follow some very onerous rules and regulations. I’d like to address two questions in particular that give some local governments pause: (1.) Does content generated on a social media platform constitute a government record? and (2.) Does citizen-posted content constitute freedom of speech?

At the Federal level, the National Archives and Records Administration released a bulletin on Oct. 20 that addresses records management for content generated on social media platforms. Although this is a Federal document, quite a few states have similar requirements. In order to determine if content is a record, and therefore needs to be maintained, NARA encourages Agencies and Departments to ask themselves these “non-exhaustive” questions:

  • Is the information unique and not available anywhere else?
  • Does it contain evidence of an agency’s policies, business, mission, etc.?
  • Is this tool being used in relation to the agency’s work?
  • Is use of the tool authorized by the agency?
  • Is there a business need for the information?

The bulletin states: “As agency records officers and social media managers consider what web 2.0 content will be record material, they should identify which components or features of the content should be included….Even if agencies determine the content is not a Federal record, they still have management responsibilities for non-record content. For more information on how to manage non-record content, see 36 CFR 1222.14 and 1222.16.”   The bulletin also states that all Federal agencies must include records management guidance in their social media policies and procedures.

In looking at local government policies, I highly recommend Orange County California’s website which has one of the most comprehensive list of local policies I’ve seen regarding the use of social media and the web in general. With regard to record’s management they have a simple statement which defers to the State law: “Agency/Department use of social media shall be documented and maintained in an easily accessible format that tracks account information and preserves items that may be considered a record subject to disclosure under the California’s Public Records Act or required to be retained pursuant to the Government Code.”

The Orange County document also addresses the other question I mentioned: Does citizen posted content constitute freedom of speech? Their answer is no…. “It is not intended to use social media sites in a way that guarantees the right to protected free speech (emphasis added). Each agency/department is responsible for monitoring postings, and taking appropriate action when necessary, to protect general site visitors from inappropriate or technically harmful information and links.”

  • Sites that allow public comment shall inform visitors of the intended purpose of the site and provide a clear statement of the discussion topic introduced for public comment so that the public is aware of the limited nature of the discussion and that inappropriate posts are subject to removal, including but not limited to the following types of postings regardless of format (text, video, images, links, documents, etc.):
  • comments not topically related;
  • profane language or content
  • content that promotes, fosters or perpetuates discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, age, religion, gender, marital status, status with regards to public assistance, national origin, physical or mental disability or sexual orientation;
  • sexual content or links to sexual content;
  • solicitations of commerce;
  • conduct or encouragement of illegal activity;
  • information that may tend to compromise the safety or security of the public or public systems;
  • content that violates a legal ownership interest of any other party.

I’m sure there are other issues that serve to discourage local governments from engaging the public through social media platforms. If you have an example of a perceived problem, please post your comment. But in general, looking to other states or agencies that have written fairly comprehensive policies is a good place for any locality to start. I’m also sure there are lawyers in your state or locality who will want to weigh in…

Social Media and Web 2.0 Standard Operating Procedures: Guidance Material

Since the use of social media and or Web 2.0 (we really need a better lexicon here) is so new, some organizations might not yet have standard operating procedures developed regarding either implementation or overall strategy. Some of those procedures may include: workflow, managing comments, managing content,  statements of purpose, measures of success/metrics, or even which new media to engage in.

However, if you are responsible for implementing new media and not sure where to start, I recommend the blog Social Media Governance which has put together a wonderful database of social or new media policies (currently 154 total). The list includes government/non-profit policies from the American Red Cross to Walker Art Center; but the list also includes policies from businesses, the healthcare industry, as well general guidelines and templates. You can search for a policy related to your industry with the handy pull-down menu.

There are even policies from international agencies, for example there is a handy Social Media 101 guide from Australia. And although some of the information would not apply in the U.S. (e.g. government codes of conduct) there are a number of helpful tips that are universal.

The General Service Administration’s Social Media Handbook can also be found there and is quite useful, however, local governments might find information from “The County of Orange, California” more applicable.

Most policies will deal with pushing information, if you know of any organization that has policies regarding receiving info from the public through social media, please let me know.

I also want to highlight the recent GAO Report: Challenges in Federal Agencies’ Use of Web 2.0 Technologies, July 22, 2010. The report summary:

Federal agencies are using Web 2.0 technologies to enhance services and support their individual missions. Federal Web managers use these applications to connect to people in new ways. As of July 2010, we identified that 22 of 24 major federal agencies had a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

They then list the challenges federal agencies have faced regarding use of Web 2.0 technologies:

Privacy and security:

Agencies are faced with the challenges of determining how the Privacy Act of 1974, which provides certain protections to personally identifiable information, applies to information exchanged in the use of Web 2.0 technologies, such as social networking sites. …

Records management and freedom of information.

Web 2.0 technologies raise issues in the government’s ability to identify and preserve federal records.

The use of Web 2.0 technologies can also present challenges in appropriately responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests because there are significant complexities in determining whether agencies control Web 2.0-generated content, as understood within the context of FOIA.

Federal agencies have begun to identify some of the issues associated with Web 2.0 technologies and have taken steps to start addressing them. For example, the Office of Management and Budget recently issued guidance intended to (1) clarify when and how the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 applies to federal agency use of social media and Web-based interactive technologies; and (2) help federal agencies protect privacy when using third- party Web sites and applications.

Of course this was written for the federal government, however, some of the information is probably applicable to states and localities.

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