Changing communications technologies have facilitated new and innovative approaches to how APS agencies engage with their employees and the Australian community. The ‘digital by design’ public service of the future will facilitate the development of efficient, cost effective, user-friendly and increasingly personalised online services.
APS agencies currently use communications technologies, and social media and networking tools specifically, to enhance internal and cross-agency collaboration through the use of tools such as those that enable instant messaging and online discussion. APS agencies continue to employ advances in communications technology to improve their customer service and target and reach specific audiences. Initiatives such as myGov have a profound impact on how the Australian community accesses and interacts with government services. Social media is also being used by APS agencies to increase workplace productivity and measure performance. The varied use of communications technology and social media and networking tools by the galleries, libraries, Archives and museum sector highlight their applicability to the public sector.
Issues of risk and accountability require solid governance and reporting frameworks, including the policies and processes to support this. Guidance for employees in their use of social media, whether it be for work or personal use, are generally available and the work being undertaken by Finance and Communications to implement the Government's E-Government and Digital Economy Policy provides a framework for smarter ICT investment strategies and better reporting and accountability of ICT expenditure across government. Given the popular use of social media with young Australians, having induction programmes in place for graduates and other new entrants that articulate APS behavioural expectations and the potential agency reputational risks associated with the personal use of social media by APS employees is key.
Social media use within agencies, however, appears to be largely the function of specialised areas rather than being employed more broadly. The use of Facebook as the social media tool of choice highlights the conservative nature of government engagement in this space. While the case studies and data presented in this chapter demonstrate that APS agencies are engaging with emergent communications technology, there remains scope for increasingly innovative approaches.