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May 3, 2012
In Reply Refer To:
1543, 1553 (610) P        
Instruction Memorandum No. 2012-113
Expires: 9/30/2013

All Washington Office and Field Officials
Attn: External Affairs Chiefs and State/Center CIOs





Bureau New Media and Social Networking Policy

Program Area: Communications; New Media

Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) provides guidance for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on the official and non-official/personal use of public new media and third-party social networking services and tools.   This IM further establishes the Office of New Media within the National Communications Directorate (Washington Office or WO 600), which provides authoritative direction, policy, and oversight on all Bureau new media activities.

Policy/Actions: Consistent with Department of the Interior’s (DOI’s) Social Media and Networking Policy, the National Communications Directorate (Washington Office or WO 600) provides authoritative direction, policy, and oversight of the BLM’s official presence on public new media and third-party social networking services and tools. 
At the time of this policy’s publication, 10 external new media tools are approved for official BLM communication nationwide: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Bitly, Slideshare, Quick Response (QR codes), RSS, AddThis, and Livestream.

The types of content and examples of services to which this policy applies include but are limited to:

  • Media Sharing (YouTube, Flickr, and iTunes);
  • Blogging/Microblogging (WordPress, Blogger, and Twitter);
  • Social Networking (Facebook, My Space, LinkedIn, and Ning);
  • Document/Data Sharing Repositories (Scribd, Slideshare, and Socrata);
  • Social Bookmarking (Delicious, Digg, and Reddit);
  • Widgets (Google Maps, AddThis, Facebook “Like”); and
  • Video Streaming (Livestream).

IM 2010-038: Use of and Branding in YouTube and IM 2010-112: Interim Social Media Policy provide initial branding and governance policy for the BLM’s existing new media tools. The BLM’s External New Media Strategy outlines the BLM’s strategic framework for new media operations. This IM rescinds IB 2012-068—New Media Strategy, and all included attachments.

Official Use of New Media and Social Networking

The BLM’s Office of New Media, working with the DOI Director of New Media and pursuant to DOI policy, is responsible for authorizing new media tools within the BLM and developing governance for their use. In this capacity, the BLM’s Office of New Media establishes policy for use all new media tools within the Bureau, while coordinating with other BLM directorates/Centers to ensure effective implementation.  Specifically:

  • The BLM’s Office of New Media coordinates with the National Operations Center (NOC) to ensure that the Bureau’s information technology infrastructure can support the new media tools, and to coordinate configuration management.
  • The BLM’s Office of New Media coordinates the WO Information Resources Management (IRM) Directorate on selection of third-party new media and social networking tools as it relates to impact on the BLM network, and consults with IRM on implementation of internal new media tools. This policy does not apply to the maintenance of internal new media systems, such as Sharepoint and Lync.

Through a standard approval process, the WO 600 establishes third-party new media accounts for official BLM communication and public engagement.

Standard Approval Process

To establish a new media account, a WO Directorate or State/Center External Affairs (EA) Office must complete the New/Social Media Request Form (linked) and submit the form to WO 600 through the BLM’s New Media Lead, Kaveh Sadeghzadeh at kcsadegh@blm.gov

Within the BLM’s States and Centers, offices and programs must submit the completed New/Social Media Request Form to the State/Center EA Office. The State/Center EA Office will then evaluate the request and forward appropriate requests to WO 600 for final review and approval.

The WO 600 and State/Center EA Offices will evaluate each new media request based on the following five criteria.

[1] The new media account must promote the BLM’s mission, advance a BLM priority, and/or address a tangible public need.

[2] The requesting office or program must have adequate staffing and information to successfully sustain the new media account.

[3] The new media account must reach an audience that is large enough or specialized enough to warrant the use of BLM time and resources.

[4] The new media request must include a cursory risk assessment and management plan that involves collaboration with BLM communications professionals.

[5] The new media site or tool (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr) must be approved for use by the DOI’s Office of New Media.

Guiding Principles

The BLM manages public new media and third-party social networking services in accordance with the following policies:

  • Only authorized personnel may represent the BLM on public new media websites.

Definition: The BLM defines authorized personnel as the BLM’s Assistant Director of Communications (AD-600) and Office of New Media, State/Center EA Chiefs, and designated personnel within their offices.  The WO 600 may designate additional BLM employees as authorized personnel on a case by case basis, typically upon approval of a new media account. All other requests should be made in writing to the WO 600 through the BLM’s New Media Lead, Kaveh Sadeghzadeh at kcsadegh@blm.gov.  

Definition: An employee represents the BLM on public new media websites by: using the BLM login to add content on the BLM’s new media pages; using the BLM logo on any new media pages; or establishing pages/forums/channels on external new media sites, whether or not the site is approved by DOI.  

  • When posting information to an external new media site, an employee may not share BLM-related information that is not already considered public information. The discussion of sensitive, proprietary, or classified information is prohibited. This rule applies even in circumstances where password or other privacy controls are implemented.

    Per DOI and BLM policy, any BLM-related information posted to external new media and third-party new media sites and tools must reside on the BLM’s external website as well.

The BLM is responsible for the content published on new media sites. Content posted on an external new media site is in the public domain, will be available for a long period of time, and can be published or discussed in the media.

Site-Specific Guidance on Branding and Governance

The BLM’s Social Media Guidebook – a web-based guide for BLM’s authorized new media users and communications professionals – provides a list of the BLM’s new media sites; a library of the BLM’s and DOI’s new media policies; guidance about the branding and governance of the BLM’s individual new media sites and tools; and information about new media platforms as they are approved.   As an online presence, the Social Media Guidebook allows for immediate updates to information.      

For addition guidance, visit the DOI’s Social Guidebook available on the DOI’s external website. 

Federal Policies Applicable to the Use of New Media

As with e-mail and other electronic means of communication, official use of public new media sites and tools must adhere to all applicable Federal policies, to include the following:

  • Section 508 (Accessibility);
  • Records Management, Retention, and Archiving;
  • Information Quality;
  • Availability of Information and Access to Persons without Internet Access;
  • Usability of Data;
  • Intellectual Property;
  • Privacy;
  • Federal Advisory Committee Act;
  • Information Collection and Paperwork Reduction Act;
  • Freedom of Information Act (FOIA); and
  • Security.

The DOI’s Social Media and Networking Policy outlines the requirements of each Federal policy and provides direct links to related policies and resources.

Unofficial/Personal Use

As stated in IM 2011-160: Open Access to Social Media Sites, all BLM employees may use social media sites in the performance of their assigned duties and responsibilities or for limited personal use. However, employees are reminded that they should have no expectation of privacy for any communication executed on government-owned equipment, regardless of whether the communications are made by employees in their official or unofficial capacities. When using new media, employees, contractors, and volunteers are also reminded that they are bound by the Department’s current conduct and ethical guidelines. Failure to comply with these policies may result in disciplinary action, up to and including removal from the Federal service. 

Guidelines for Conduct on New Media and Social Networking Sites

When using new media for official and unofficial/personal use, all BLM employees must follow the DOI, BLM, and Executive Branch conduct guidelines, to include:

Timeframe: This IM is effective immediately.

Background: This IM establishes a new media framework for the BLM that mirrors that of DOI. Consistent with the DOI’s Social Media and Networking Policy, the WO 600, through its Office of New Media, provides oversight of the BLM’s official presence on public new media and serves as the official point-of-contact for DOI’s Office of New Media.

In this role, the WO 600 authorizes all uses of new media technologies within the BLM and reviews all requests by BLM offices for external new media accounts, to include external new media sites, social networking, and other Web 2.0 services or tools. The WO 600 maintains a running list of new media accounts and reports those accounts to the DOI’s Office of New Media on a regular basis.

The DOI’s Social Media and Networking Policy states three reasons for a consistent approval process and ongoing coordination between DOI and its bureaus.

[1] Clear approval processes and communication avoid undue overlap or duplication of efforts.

[2] Bureau-level coordination ensures that information, when appropriate, is delivered to the public in the context of unified themes or messages.

[3] A new media account must be covered under a special terms of service agreement (TOS), privacy impact assessment (PIA), and possibly a system of records notice (SORN) approved by the DOI. To be covered under a DOI TOS agreement, a proposed new media account must be approved by the bureau point-of-contact and reported to the DOI’s Office of New Media.

As the BLM’s point-of-contact, the WO 600 ensures that all new media accounts comply with an existing TOS and, as business needs arise, coordinates with the DOI’s Office of New Media on negotiating additional TOS for new media.

Effectively using new media is critical to successfully achieving the BLM’s mission. “Winning the Challenges of the Future—A Road Map for Success in 2016” identified promoting the BLM to a diverse and changing public as one of its key goals, and the BLM’s social media efforts are instrumental in achieving this goal.

Budget Impact: The use of new media is anticipated to have minimal-to-moderate budget impact, with the burden on the National and State/Center EA Offices.

Manual/Handbook Affected: This IM rescinds IB 2012-068—New Media Strategy, and all included attachments.

Coordination: This IM was coordinated with Director Robert V. Abbey and the DOI’s Office of New Media.

Contact: For policy guidance on the use of public new media sites and tools, please contact Kaveh Sadeghzadeh, the BLM’s New Media Lead, at 202-912-7423. 
Signed by:                                           Authenticated by:
Robert V. Abbey                                  Robert M. Williams
Director                                               Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
1 Attachment

Last updated: 05-03-2012