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Last Updated: Monday, 10 March 2008, 16:39 GMT
Civil servants to get blog advice
Blogger
The guidelines could cover how to take part in online discussions
The government is planning to issue guidelines on how civil servants use social networking sites and blogs.

A Cabinet Office spokesman confirmed the department would outline plans "in the near future" on using sites such as Facebook, Youtube and Wikipedia.

This was "not a reaction" to the anonymous blog by a civil servant which has been closed down, it was added.

A diarist, known as Civil Serf, had accused the government of incompetence and trying to grab "cheap headlines".

Response

The Cabinet Office is drawing up guidelines for using blogs and social networking sites in response to an independent report last year called The Power of Information.

These are expected to cover how civil servants should respond when they feel inaccurate information has been posted, for instance, on social networking sites.

The guidelines could deal with dilemmas such as whether making an official comment on a blog contravenes civil service rules.

The Cabinet Office's interim findings are expected within the next few weeks, with the final recommendations coming out later in the year.

A spokesman for the department said: "We committed to publish guidance on this when we accepted recommendations from the Power Of Information Review last June."

Civil Serf, whose site was closed down at the weekend, had been blogging since November.

Claiming to be a middle-ranking, female, 33-year-old fast-stream civil servant, she had branded Gordon Brown "Velcro" because negative stories tend to stick to him, unlike his predecessor as prime minister, "Teflon" Tony Blair.

'No God'

One post mocked Whitehall's culture of long meetings, stating: "I've received a meeting request that probably deserves a mention in the Guinness Book of Records.

"It's for something called the People's Action Team (don't ask) and it is scheduled to last for a staggering seven hours... Truly there is no God."

The site also lampooned Chancellor Alistair Darling for trying to get "cheap headlines" with his debut Budget on Wednesday.

The head of the civil service, Sir Gus O'Donnell, who is himself due to set out the new guidelines, was criticised by Civil Serf for criticising the leadership in the Treasury.

A post read: "I think we are forgetting something, Gus - you were the permanent secretary of the Treasury until two years ago?"

There has been newspaper speculation that Civil Serf works at the Department for Work and Pensions in London.

A DWP spokeswoman refused to confirm whether the blogger had been identified, saying: "All civil servants have to follow the civil service code."



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