How to use WhatsApp for Government Decisions

This is a simple trick to use WhatsApp for Government decisions. Yes, I know there are many team communication and project management tools available. I used Microsoft Kaizala, Trello , slack and many more. But wait. You should also read “10 must have productivity apps for Senior Government Officers“. On the date of writing this article, nothing except WhatsApp worked. It’s all Whatsapp groups around. There is even a strong resistance in using any other messaging app other than Whatsapp.

PLAIN and SIMPLE Use WhatsApp!

WhatsApp is becoming our primary mode of communication. Lets put that to use in Government. But even before you use messaging app to any use, read this…

Can I use WhatsApp for official communications?

The answer is YES and NO. Yes because it’s electronic and a two-way communications in an encrypted manner. NO, because, if you cannot make the WhatsApp chat as part of the file, the communication is simply lost and is of no relevance otherwise. As per the Manual of Office Procedure of Government of India Para 19 talks about the method of recording Oral Discussions.

19. Oral discussions – (i) All points emerging from discussions (including telephonic discussions) between two or more officers of the same Department or from discussions between officers of different Departments, and the conclusions reached shall be recorded precisely on the relevant file at the earliest, by the officer authorizing action. (ii) All discussions/instructions/decisions which the officer recording them considers to be important enough for the purpose, should be got confirmed by all those who have participated in or are responsible for them.

Similarly, Para 20 details about the manner of handling Oral Instructions by higher officers.

20. Oral instructions by higher officers – (i) Where an officer is giving direction (including telephonic direction) for taking action in any case in respect of matters on which the officer or subordinate has powers to decide, the subordinate shall ordinarily do so in writing. If, however, the circumstances of the case are such that there is no time for giving the instructions in writing, they should follow it up by a written confirmation at the earliest. (ii) When an officer is acting under instructions of an official superior, he shall obtain the directions in writing wherever practical before carrying out the instructions. Where it is not possible to do so, he shall obtain written confirmation of the directions, as soon thereafter as possible. If the officer giving the instructions is not the immediate official superior but is one higher to the latter in the hierarchy, the officer shall bring such instructions to the notice of the immediate superior at the earliest, and thereafter the latter will obtain the written confirmation of the directions from the senior officer who gave the instructions.

Clearly, the Office Procedure specifies that any oral/verbal communications need to be recorded in the ‘relevant file‘ and then written confirmation given /taken.  Therefore, it is imperative that all discussions, directions which have happened outside the relevant file should be brought to the file first.

Recently, the trend is to chat-up over text messages rather than oral directions. At least, this makes the life simpler for the junior officer, as the directions are already recorded in writing. Therefore, the answer to ‘Can I use WhatsApp for official Communications’ is Yes, provided you record the discussions/decision on the relevant file and give or take the confirmation of it.

Step by Step Process to use WhatsApp for Government Decision

Use WhatsApp as Decision Platform

Take the decision/discussion without obstruction with casual and out of context chat. That means any correspondence between the two officers should be known as official correspondence first of all and therefore GoodMornings and jokes should be kept at minimal.

Export the WhatsApp Chat

To export a copy of the history of an individual chat or group, use the Email chat feature:

  1. Open the chat for the individual or group.
  2. Tap the Menu Button.
  3. Tap More.
  4. Tap Email chat.
  5. Choose whether to Attach Media or not.

An email will be composed with your chat history attached as a .txt document.

Note:

  • If you choose to attach media, the most recent media sent will be added as attachments.
  • When sending with media, you can send up to 10,000 latest messages. Without media, you can send 40,000 messages. These constraints are due to maximum email sizes.

The above has been taken from WhatsApp FAQ

Open the Individual Chat and click on the Menu.
In iOS go to ‘Export Chat’ button. Android user needs to click on the three dots.
Select the export without Media or if there is a draft which was sent for approval, download the chat with media
Only in iOS, you can choose the location. Checked the android but you can only export to email.
Use a text editor to paste the content from the exported .txt file.

The beauty is that the content is downloaded and is available with the date and time stamp along with the username. I made the short video for exporting the whatsapp chat. Kindly see here


Once you have exported the chat, simply paste it into any text editor or Microsoft word document. In case you have files which were sent for approval or discussions, the document can also be downloaded and printed (for physical files) or used as PDF in the eFile. Kindly remember that as per Office Procedure, “If any Officer has made any remarks or written his direction on the P.U.C., these should first be copied out on the notes and then only the Branch note should follow”. Therefore, it is always important that the text so copied are pasted as part of the note sheet only.

The last step, of course, is to take the confirmation of the decision as per the manual of office procedure. That’s it. By this simple exporting option within WhatsApp you will be able to make sense out of it.

Hope you liked this small but useful tip for using WhatsApp for Government Purpose. Do let me know if you have used WhatsApp for official decisions, and how best you use the Messaging app for decision making in the comments below.


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Also published on Medium.

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