The Way Ahead for DoD Social Media Policy

 The Department of Defense is charting the way ahead for the use of social media sites.

After giving the green light to DoD organizations to engage with the public online in February 2010 via the issuance of a directive-type memorandum, there has been recent buzz about what lies ahead for the DTM since it is slated to expire March 1, 2011.

So what really happens next?

During a Feb. 3 DoD social media conference, Terry Davis shed light on the way ahead for DTM 09-026, which is entitled Responsible and Effective Use of Internet Capabilities. As a representative from the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Networks & Information Integration)/DoD Chief Information Officer, attendees were all ears paying particular attention to Davis’ commentary about what resources DoD is allocating to support online communications and engagement. Noting the importance of sustaining social media and online initiatives across DoD, Davis stated that it is simply an administrative procedure to extend the effective period of the DTM and that an extension is slated to occur before or on the March 1 expiration date.

Davis also went on to explain what lies ahead as a long-term solution to social media and web policy – a DoD Instruction.  This instruction, DOD Instruction 8430.aa, will be an all-encompassing policy including data points currently listed in DTM 09-026 as well as updates to DoD’s 1998 web policy.

In his candid talk to a group of nearly 40 DoD employees, Davis stated that policy involves a five-part process:

  1. Create policy
  2. Disseminate policy
  3. Educate and train
  4. Monitor for compliance with policy
  5. Enforce compliance

This begs the question: at what part of the five-part process is DoD in when it comes to the DOD Instruction 8430.aa?

DOD Instruction 8430.aa can be characterized as in the “creation” stage since this policy is presently in draft form. While the creation of a long-term DoD policy related to online communications and engagement is a plus for military public affairs practitioners, it’s important to note that dissemination of this policy is dependent upon decisions that will be made in accordance with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ efficiency initiative.

Once vetted and approved, the instruction will be a compendium of everything that will be needed for use of Internet-based capabilities – to include content on ethics, operations security and information assurance. 

Stay tuned to the ASD (NII)/DOD CIO website for the latest updates about the status of DOD Instruction 8430.aa.

And in the meantime, can you think of any ideas about content and considerations that should be addressed in the instruction? If so, let us know! We’d love to hear your thoughts on current social media policy in addition to suggestions for future policy.