Posted tagged ‘e-mail’

Me and my CC army

April 23, 2012

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E-mails are great; seriously, they are time saving, efficient and most of all really easy to use even for a technical dunce.  And whilst Mark Zuckerberg may be predicting the end of the e-mail I am confident that in local government they will be here for many years to come (we are never ever ahead of those sort of trends!).

Unfortunately, even the best inventions can fall foul to the mis-use of the human being who is in charge of piloting the tool of choice. Two and half years ago (yeah, I couldn’t believe we’d been going for that long either) one of my colleagues wrote about the strange mis-use of the ‘reply all’ button and concluded:

Seriously, if you can’t be responsible about using the reply all button then frankly you shouldn’t be allowed to use a computer. In fact, you shouldn’t really be allowed out of the house, or be left alone with anything complicated like shoe laces or peanut butter.

She was of course spot on but two and half years later I am taken with another e-mail problem similar to the ‘reply all’ phenomena: People using the cc section of the e-mail as a show of strength or bravado.

I call this phenomena ‘me and my cc army’ and it takes a number of different forms:

1)    The ‘look at all the important people who you would be disappointing if you don’t do as I say’

In this version a relatively junior person is copying in as many layers of management as he or she can think of to show that the issue is really important. Not having the confidence to make the request themselves on its own merit they call in the ‘big boys cc army’.

2)    The ‘see chaps, I really am on your side’


GCSx – is it really worth the hassle?

August 2, 2011

A step too far?In this technological age, getting in touch with colleagues should be easy. Firstly, many people sit in the same open plan office as their colleagues, so they are able to simply turn their head and speak. Should they not be near enough to each other, a phone call to a landline or mobile will suffice. Alternatively an e-mail will do, whilst some organisations even make use of Yammer, instant messenger, or other forms of social networking. All this should mean that we should be able to talk to each other and share information across teams and partners easily, right?


At some point, a bright spark in the ICT world (or perhaps a salesman with a keen eye for a guaranteed profit) decided that e-mail wasn’t good enough for some organisations. There were obviously hordes of people intercepting e-mails willy-nilly, bleeding vital information from the public sector at a rate the ex-News of the World would have been in awe of. No, e-mail wasn’t good enough; so along came GCSx.

GCSx, for those of you yet to enjoy it’s company, stands for Government Connect Secure eXtranet and is effectively a system which acts exactly like e-mail. It is supposed to sync with Outlook, and is apparently a far more secure way of sending sensitive information. Two people with GCSx accounts should be able to swap information and e-mails about cute cats to their hearts content, safe in the knowledge that they will not have such message intercepted. (more…)

Locally social

January 25, 2011

If Bob Hoskins thinks it's good to talk, that's good enough for me

Last week I took part in the #lgovsm tweet up.  For those of you who haven’t had a look, it sees anyone interested in how social media can be better used in a local government setting all logging on to Twitter at the same time and talking about a central topic.  By adding the #lgovsm hashtag they can all then track the same conversation and respond to each other.  @loulouk started this a while ago and it’s sparked many a fantastic debate.

Social media is a topic close to my heart.  Communication is an area that has always fascinated me, ever since I realised that with a tonal change, a shrug of the shoulders or simply a….. pause, the entire meaning of words can shift and change.  Growing up in a world getting to grips with IT meant that it was inevitable that these fascinations should merge, so with venn diagrams all over the place I find myself in the enviable position of ‘doing’ some social media as part of my job.

The funny thing is, I don’t get it personally.  I don’t want to tell people meaningless snippets of information, nor do I want to always share my opinions on a given topic (understanding as I do the near permanence of anything published on the web).  But for local government, for me the possibilities seem endless. (more…)

Returning to work

January 4, 2011

The transition from one to the other... Easier said than done

I’ve been slacking off for the past 11 days; spending my days seeing relatives, lounging around in bed, eating too much and washing it down with a few drinks.

And thus, as I walk back to the office this morning it is hard not to feel refreshed and ready to tackle the world again. This is probably the same as I feel on the way back from any normal holiday; but the difference with Christmas is that you sort of expect everyone to feel exactly the same.

After all, it was Christmas and surely that means we’ve all had a nice week off. This is of course not true as many people have been toiling away whilst I’ve been off eating. This got me thinking of the different categories of local government Christmas worker:

1)      The project completer: Sometimes it can be difficult to get things done whilst there are other people in the office ‘distracting’ you with work and other frippery. These people are machines between Christmas and New Year and you will return to a pile of reports, completed projects and plans for the New Year.


Dumped by text

December 2, 2010

Any excuse to put a picture of Eric Pickles with a knife!

Sometimes there are stories from our Local Authorities which we choose not to write. There are many reasons for this; we don’t want to embarrass our employers or give the impression that we don’t both enjoy our jobs and believe that our local authority is providing excellent public services that people really value.

However, where a story is indicative of the problems facing the sector right now and where we can keep the authority and ourselves anonymous it makes sense to tell it; even if we do so rather cautiously.

Today is one of those days.

As the more observant of you will have noticed most of us who write for this blog have found our way onto the redundancy list of our respective local authorities. However, in my case this happened in a somewhat less than conventional way.

As has been mentioned in other places the cuts to local authority budgets have come deep and fast. My authority had planned to announce the details of our restructure at a series of all-staff meetings. However, there was too much work to do so the announcement was delayed for a few days. It was then delayed again and again and as is natural the rumours circulated over when we would find out.

When we did find out, it happened in a slightly unconventional way:

We were told of our possible redundancy by e-mail.


I don’t know what she’s on, but I want some…

November 11, 2010

At least we hope they were drunk...

The team of bloggers here see and hear a lot of random, slightly strange things to do with Local Government, be they structural, procedural or the actions of people.  That being said, we are always looking out for other things which might be amusing, so should you have any points you think are a little, well, strange or interesting you can always contact us at

One of our readers recently did so, forwarding this gem of an e-mail bemoaning the ending of their summer walking club (we talked about our own Council’s efforts a while ago); at least we think that’s what it’s about as it’s a little unclear…

Be aware, this is from a relatively senior manager, was sent to about 60 or more people and we haven’t edited it for grammar, spelling or content.  We’re guessing two and a half bottles of red…

I wonder how many of  my walking peers remember  last summer?  Does anyone remember it ?-because for me it certainly was  memorable for having been introduced by Rachel, Kirsty and Keith to lunchtime explorations of the area-an area of hidden delights – history, beauty and revelations – both human and ecological.

But now those lazy , hazy days of summer are gone  (apologies to that wonderful supremely talented American singer-the late Nat King Cole) and  now as I try to tempt my constant walking companion to venture out ,she would peer  up at   the luminous grey  sky ,wrinkle up her pert nose, flick her dark hair  and say”thanks but no thanks- I think its going to rain -summer’s ended”.


How to reply to Out of Office

November 4, 2010

From: Localgov
Sent: 3 November 2010 11:40
To: Localgovaswell
Subject: SMT staff cascade arrangements


Thought you’d want to see these, could be useful.



From: Localgovaswell
Sent: 3 November 2010 11:42
To: Localgov
Subject: Out of Office AutoReply: SMT staff cascade arrangements


I am currently out of the office until the afternoon of Friday November 5th. During this time I will be mainly in training sessions and meetings but will have my mobile on me for emergencies.

I will deal with all e-mails upon my return.


From: Localgov
Sent: 3 November 2010 11:45
To: Localgovaswell
Subject: Out of Office AutoReply: SMT staff cascade arrangements


Gosh darn part time worker, wasting my council tax by sitting in training sessions learning lord only knows what about some random and unuseful thing such as health and safety so you you can stop me walking the streets of my own free will or having a picnic on a nice grass verge for fear of a sprinkler going off and my clothes getting wet so I sue you and the rest of your forsaken kind for £1m plus emotional damages, it’s political correctness gone mad I tell you and before long I won’t be able to tuck my kids in to bed at night without being accused of beating them and seeing the Child Protection ninjas swooping in to arrest me and lock me in a local version of Guantanamo Bay, well I won’t have it, do you hear me, I’m going to stand up for my rights as a citizen of this proud country and find out exactly how to demand that I be treated as the upstanding human being that I am.

Is there a training course for that?


e-low, e-low, e-low

October 26, 2010



Just don't e-mail us about anything...


For most people, contacting the police is a simple thing.  If you have an emergency it’s 999, if not you ring your local police station and leave a message which then gets deleted.  Simples.

Not so if you work for local government.  Today I got an e-mail from our ICT team telling me that my special e-mail account will be set up soon.  Upon further investigation I discovered that this was a special e-mail account specifically to talk to the Met police.

Apparently colleagues have been having all of their e-mails to their police based counterparts blocked because – wait for it – they get sent via the internet.  This means they are not secure, and that only those sent through a special type of e-mail account will get through to them.

So; if I want to e-mail anyone else in the world I simply fire up Outlook, write an e-mail and send it.  If, however, I want to e-mail the Met police I have to close down Outlook, log off that entire profile (closing down everything else I’m working on at the time), log on under a new, ‘special’ profile, fire up Outlook again, write it and send it.  Unless I get an instant response I’ll then have to close it all down again, load up my normal profile, get back to work for a bit and repeat the procedure later on to see if I’ve got a reply.

Am I alone in thinking this is ridiculous? (more…)