One national agency is looking to a Facebook-like internal social network as a possible alternative to traditional lines of communication like email and phone calls. The National Nuclear Security Administration announced Sept. 14 a pilot program in which the agency will use the One Voice platform. If successful, other divisions in the U.S. Energy Department could also launch the platform, which will include instant messaging and Web conferencing.

“The way I like to describe where we’re going,” Chief Technology Officer Travis Howerton said, reported NextGov.com, “is today we’re chartered to make weapons of mass destruction using a weapon of mass distraction, which is email. How much of your email is actionable? Ten percent, maybe 15? The rest of it is people cc-ing you on things they think you need to know that you really don’t. And there’s 60 percent of it that’s just straight spam.”

About 45,000 National Nuclear Security Administration employees will use the network on initial launch, and Howerton said using the social network will have several benefits. Removing one-to-one exchanges through email eliminates pressure to send unnecessary responses, he said, and presenting information in a feed rather than by manually including people in emails will help employees filter out extraneous information and be included in the conversations they do need to know about.

If successful, the administration may also integrate other programs into the system, such as training, Howerton said.