Headlines: August 13th, 2001

The Office of the E-envoy wants Departments and Agencies to encourage staff to use the Internet and e-mail. The advice comes because managers of large numbers of civil servants believe that the risks of misuse are so high that they outweigh the advantages. Their main concern is that staff may spend long periods surfing the net when they should be working. The Office of the E-envoy believes that their assessment of risk is unduly pessimistic and fails to take account of the benefits. The advice is to encourage staff to use e-mail and the Internet in their work because this introduces them to new skills and helps departments become more efficient.As a safeguard to misuse of e-mail and the Internet Departments have the option to monitor use of electronic communications. The E-envoy makes it clear that where monitoring takes place staff must be told and it should be made clear what action will be taken if they breach management policy. The advice urges openness and honesty in applying monitoring policy.