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Should being a fed be a round-the-clock job?

Federal employees might take off their badges when they get home, but they never stop being federal employees.

That’s the perspective offered by a self-described “HR Professional” commenting on a recent post by Nathan Abse at the Gov Careers blog about a social media policy being enforced at the General Services Administration.

Under the policy, GSA can hold employees accountable for their activity on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, even when they are acting as private individuals, on their own time, and not as government representatives.

HR Professional agrees, saying federal employees always represent their agencies, whether they intend to or not.

At the very least, “if you want to play, keep the fact that you are a government employee, especially your agency, off of your profile,” the HR pro writes. “If you wouldn't post it on a billboard across from your office, keep it offline.”

But feds should also keep in mind that some agencies now make it a practice to vet prospective employees by searching social networking sites, the commenter points out. Iffy postings could endanger your job prospects, even if you weren’t a fed at the time.

Check out all the comments at the Gov Career blog post and let us know what you think.

Posted on Aug 02, 2010 at 7:25 PM


Reader Comments

Fri, Aug 6, 2010

It's not about your Federal job being an around the clock job. It's about conducting one's self in a professional manner, especially when "representing" your employer. If you were a company shirt while being extremely intoxicated at a strip club, you should not be surprised to lose your job or at least be punished. It doesn't matter whether you work at GSA, Xerox or McDonalds.

Thu, Aug 5, 2010 Indianapolis, IN

When a person becomes a federal employee they take an oath of allegiance and they become a public servant just like the president or a police officer. They are in a position of public trust! That trust is 24/7. While they are entitled to a private life, anything that they do in a public forum reflects not only on themselves, but also on the government. Would you not expect the president to conduct himself with a degree of decorum? Then any other federal employee should as well.

Wed, Aug 4, 2010

I think in this case one of the situations that led to this GSA decision was a video produced by some PBS interns in CA that was put on Youtube. It showed them running around with wads of cash, talking about their gov't credit cards, GOV vehicles and how every day was like being on an Alternate Work Schedule. To add to the inappropriate fashion of the video they kept talking about GSA, showed someone in a GSA office space and had one person wearing an AFRO wig while they played basketball. While this was done on their own time, it was inappropriate. I agree with GSA's decision.

Wed, Aug 4, 2010

Part of the issue as I see it is that the younger members of the workforce, the ones who are most active in social media, are the ones with the least experience and, let's face it, common sense about what to disclose and what to reveal. I don't expect the 25-year-olds in my office who have never done anything except go to school and party to have a sense of OPSEC or mission.

Tue, Aug 3, 2010 Anisha South Korea (US Army)

Personally I understand that "Uncle Sam" is watching and others too and we should be careful what we post...I agree that if I am considered on duty 24/7 then it should be reflected in my pay but thats so not going to happen...At the end of the day it is what it is and I try not to do anything that would tarnish my good name...

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