Bob Kerslake, head of the civil service, has written to departmental chiefs ordering them to make sure staff interacts with the public on social networking websites.
But officials say the move will simply encourage civil servants to spend time idly, contacting their friends on Facebook.
The plan could also bring about a computer security risk, officials feel. The departments have time till September to adjust their computer security to allow access to Facebook. The civil service head feels social networking will help the government interact with voters. He wants more information to be put out via the internet.
Officials working on projects that feature public consultations would also be allowed to use Twitter.