FDA forms Web division within external affairs

SILVER SPRING, MD: The Food and Drug Administration plans to reorganize the office of external affairs to include a Web division, which is being led by a new director of Web communications.

SILVER SPRING, MD: The Food and Drug Administration plans to reorganize the office of external affairs to include a Web division, which is being led by a new director of Web communications.

Carl Chitwood, the former enterprise Web manager for the National Park Service, started in September. He leads a staff of 11 and reports to Beth Martino, associate commissioner of external affairs at the federal agency.

The Web team used to operate within the office of public affairs – the division that handles media relations for FDA.

“What we do for the Web should not just be driven by what's appropriate for the media,” said Martino.

She added that the public affairs team has mainly used Web channels to promote FDA press releases, but the agency is looking to expand how it uses the Web and social media to communicate with its audiences.

Following the reorganization, the office of external affairs, which has 71 staffers, will include four divisions – Web; public affairs; external relations, which provides consumer and industry outreach; and special health issues, which handles patient and healthcare provider communications.

Martino said that plans for formalizing the Web division within the office of external affairs started four to five months ago and the reorganization is waiting for final approval. 

The Web team recently launched the federal agency's first Facebook and Flickr pages in a “pilot phase,” she said, noting that the team opened up FDA's Facebook wall less than a week ago for posting.

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