Lancaster city enacts a new code of conduct, social media policy for city government employees | Local News

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Lancaster city employees are being called on to inspire public trust by hewing to unimpeachable standards of professional behavior.

They are “to act individually and collectively to create a City government that is responsible, fair, honest and open.”

The directives are spelled out in a new code of conduct, authorized by Mayor Danene Sorace as of Aug. 30.

A new social media policy, enacted the same day, sets standards for employees posting on official city accounts and on their personal ones.

With city accounts, “employees should use their best judgment,” and be mindful of the city’s image.

They do not need city approval to post on their personal accounts, but the policy encourages the exercise of “discretion and common sense.”

In particular, individuals who are widely known in their city role, or who clearly identify themselves as city employees online, should make it clear they’re expressing their own opinions, not the city’s. Moreover, their online presence should be “consistent” with their professional role, the policy says.

“Employees should have no expectation of privacy when using social media tools,” it says, adding: “When in doubt, stop. Don’t post until you are free of doubt.”

The city previously didn’t have a written social media policy, chief of staff Jess King said. It had a conflict of interest policy and a statement of “cultural characteristics,” but the code of conduct goes above and beyond those two documents, King said.

The policies stem from “an ongoing overall review” of policy citywide, she said. The goal is to provide better guidance and clear expectations for all employees, she said.

It took about half a year to draft and review the documents, King said, including going over them with the three unions representing civilian employees, police and firefighters.

York has a comparable code of conduct, enacted in 2014, while Harrisburg has one for management employees that took effect in 2012. Both cities have social media policies, dating from 2015 and 2017, respectively.

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