May the record show that I work for the Government of Kenya. But all views in this post are mine and not those of my employer (as made popular by twitter).
There have been many questions about why most government officers use their yahoo and gmail accounts instead of the official government firstname.lastname@example.org accounts. As stated above, I do work for the government as an independent consultant and I have an official email address that I use for all government business. At the ICT Authority, all business is carried out using official email …@ict.go.ke
There are many reasons why most of the other government offices have not been very successful in using the official emails:
- User Interface (user experience). This is the one thing that is often ignored in product development, always assuming that software developers are designers and getting the interface all wrong. From what I have noted, most if not all the government offices that are big on their official emails are on google apps (and I think yahoo missed out on an opportunity to make yahoo apps as most of the rogue emails are actually on yahoo). Through this, you have the same user experience as you would on your unofficial gmail account. This generally reduces resistance and makes transitions and change management seamless. Have you ever seen the interfaces on some of the government mailing systems? Well until you see one, reserve your comments.
- Most government officials joined government when government did not have mailing systems. Even now, not all have this said email. Most of the rest joined government after a few hoops and loops in private sector and the rest are digital natives that had a yahoo or google account when they were in class four. Have you ever had to abandon your old school way of life for a new one that is not enforced?
- From experience, there is mostly no regulation that requires you to use your official email (at least my contract does not have any of that). You have an email address? Well we hope you use it. Thank you.
- For some, this is driven by demand. Those who knew their personal emails prefer to use the personal emails and hence they end up always logged into those or email forwarding to these addresses and the way emails are set up, sometimes you are not guaranteed that responding on an email forward will go with your official email.
- Most government secrets happen on hard paper documents labeled, well, ‘SECRET.’ For this reason, there is little threat of any of these spilling over or being tapped by the NSA or whoever it is that listens in on email conversations.
Not rocket science really, just some years of observation.