Tag Archives: Gov 2.0

Government of Australia “getting on with Government 2.0″

Government 2.0 EnablerA taskforce from the Government of Australia has published a comprehensive  draft report about Government 2.0. The report recommends that “a lead agency take responsibility for Government 2.0 policy and provide leadership, guidance and support to agencies and public servants.”

Committees and task forces can often over analyze or complicate technology.  Risk aversion can become the dominant theme.  Bold action can be discouraged.  Not so in Australia. The task force recommends a “declaration of open government by the Australian government.” 

Recommendations include:

  • Higher levels of information disclosure – “freedom of information” on steroids
  • Active participation by public servants – encouraging participation
  • Making more data available – free, open, understandable, machine-readable (mashupable)
  • Assisting in the cultural change – leverage the “wisdom of crowds”
  • Developing strategies to ensure privacy and security – eliminating perceived threats

What does this mean for Government 2.0 adoption?

  1. Government 2.0 is not a self-contained technology trend somehow independent from societal and economic changes. As we have pointed out before, Government 2.0 is part of the long-term trends from vertical to virtual integration and the flattening of organizational structures from the command and control model. This report shows how Government 2.0 is part of trends for freedom of information, transparency and citizen services
  2. Government 2.0 rewards outweigh risks. The economic value add of collaboration and participation exceed the “worst that could happen”, as discussed in a recent ICGFM forum. Machine-readable information enables insight and improved decision-making.
  3. Government 2.0 risks are well understood. Governments can mitigate privacy, security and copyright risks.
  4. Government 2.0 is not changing the culture in government – the culture is changing anyway. The pressure on governments to perform better in a global environment with increased transparency exists regardless of technology. Government 2.0 facilitates this culture change.

Government 2.0 from Fad to Fashion, Figure to Ground

by Doug Hadden

VP Products

Government 2.0 is not a fad, according to a recent article in Federal Government Weekly. “Although the true value of Government 2.0 has yet to be measured or even fully imagined, there will be no turning back the clock to a previous era.” Yet, many observers believe that the essence of government will not change: the culture of expertise will not change to a culture of participation. One reaction from my presentation at the Financial Management Institute of Canada: public servants won’t change. Yet, participants at the ICGFM conference agreed that Government 2.0 will help transform government.

Government 2.0 has become fashionable!

According to the FCW article, “a core group of government workers have been walking the walk of Government 2.0 for several years but now they are receiving important support and official sanction.”  This observation has been confirmed in conversations, presentations and articles. Government 2.0 has entered the “technology adoption cycle”.  Experimentation is exposing good Government 2.0 practices. What is the next stage?

From Figure to Ground

Marshall McLuhan identified the problem decades ago: humans often fail to see what is important about new technology. We often identify things that are not important as important. “Figure” is what is important – the characteristics that represent change. “Ground” is everything else. He pointed out that everything moves from figure to ground, whether it is print, radio or word processing.

Government 2.0 is clearly “figure” because it represents change.  10 years from now, Government 2.0 will be common place. Public servants won’t be talking about the security or cultural issues about Government 2.0. There will be no discussion of the ROI of Government 2.0 – just like there is little discussion of the ROI of mobile telephones. Government 2.0 will be. Government 2.0 will “go to ground.”  Participation and collaboration will be pervasive. Public servants will wonder how jobs could be done any other way – similar to today when we wonder how we survived without fax machines and the Internet.

Change Management and Government 2.0

In the Government 2.0 era, there is an increasing realization that the traditional change management discipline requires – you guessed it – change. There is an interesting post from Jenn Gusetetic titled: Open Government is Change Management…On Steroids. She suggests a more inclusive method of change management and Government 2.0 planning concluding: It’s important to involve folks from each of these critical areas at the beginning of the effort in order to tap into their tacit knowledge and ensure downstream challenges are mitigated.

Is making Government 2.0 planning more inclusive the answer? It appears to be part of the answer because Government 2.0 is collaborative in nature. Therefore, a wider constituency is needed for internal and external facing Government 2.0 initiatives.

Change Management on steroids does not fully capture the need for immediacy. Traditional change management provides a rigorous set of milestones and approvals before change is approved. Will this limit Government 2.0 initiatives by slowing progress through analysis paralysis? Will interaction on Government 2.0 applications be slowed to snail-mail speeds? There needs to be more work to determine how Web 2.0 changes Change Management discipline.

ICGFM Conference Attendees Convinced that Government 2.0 will Transform Government

From Obscurity to 64.5% in Less than an Hour?

by Doug Hadden, VP Products

I had the pleasure of presenting at the ICGFM Winter Conference in Washington earlier today. The presentation made the case that  Government Performance Management needs Government 2.0.  We have been stong advocates of Government 2.0 because we believe that it will transform Government Resource Planning.

There are over 130 public finance managers from over 30 countries at the conference. These conferences use a polling tool that provides important insight. (Who knew that delegates would rather receive an ICGFM pen than a picture with the President of the United States?)

My presentation was preceeded with a poll about Government 2.0. The options:

  1. Never heard of it
  2. Never be implemented in my country
  3. Inevitable: but won’t transform government
  4. Inevitable: will transform government

We used the same poll after the presentation. I’d like to think that my powers of persuasion played a role – but it is likely the facts that spoke. The first poll found that 77% of the group had not heard of Government 2.0. After: 64.5% believed that Government 2.0 will transform government. More than 79% believe dthat Government 2.0 is inevitable. This presentation was not FreeBalance specific, although Goverment 2.0 functionality is core to our product roadmap.

Clearly, I have to get out more!

Government Performance Management needs Government 2.0

Originally from the ICGFM Blog 

Government Performance Management requires Citizen Feedback

Government 2.0 and government transformation is inevitable, according to Doug Hadden, VP of Products at FreeBalance, and VP Communications for ICGFM. Government, society and technology trends are creating an environment for transformation. Citizens demand improved performance. Techniques used for Corporate Performance Management (CPM) are not effective in government.

Mr. Hadden introduced Web 2.0 and Government 2.0 applications. ICGFM has been leveraging social networking or Web 2.0:

The differences between E-Government and Government 2.0 were presented. The impact of cloud computing, semantic web and mobile computing was put into perspective. Mr. Hadden questioned the categories of unstructured and structured data used in the software industry. He predicts that the next generation of government applications will integrate transactions, documents and collaboration.

Corporate Performance Management techniques operate well in business because there is a bottom line – profit. There can be numerous unintended consequences of government programs. These impacts may not be measured giving and incorrect view of success. Government Performance Management focuses on structural concerns, according to Mr. Hadden. Internal and external social networks are required to provide a 360 degree view of government performance. Examples of the use of Government 2.0 to enhance government performance was presented.

Security is a concern for Government 2.0 adoption. Yet, the fastest adopters for this technology are in the Defence and Homeland Security departments in the United States. The US Government Intellipedia application has become the “meme” case study for Government 2.0 adoption, according to Mr. Hadden.

Inevitable Government Transformation

Mr, Hadden placed Government Performance Management in context to social change and social pressures. Globalization creates competitive pressures among countries. The desire for improved governance and transparency from citizens is creating more open governments. And, citizens and businesses have expectations set through the use of e-commerce and Web 2.0 tools.

This move to Government 2.0 and Government Performance Management is part of long-term trends. Mr. Hadden introduced theories presented by Marshall McLuhan. He suggests that government transformation is inevitable – that Government 2.0 is a technology enabler. The organizational and societal changes that make this inevitable are:

  • Flattening of organizations
  • Move from vertical to virtual integration
  • Project and program focus in government
  • Top-down to bottom-up organizations
  • Role changes and the move to generalization

There will remain cultural barriers to adoption of Government Performance Management 2.0. Mr. Hadden described a number of government initiatives world-wide that demonstrate movement to this new model of social networking and performance. A scenario for the future was presented – showing the necessity of linking transactions, documents and collaboration in order to have a full picture of government performance.

FMI PD Week Highlights Next Generation of PFM Automation

Government of Canada entering the Second Generation of Public Financial Management Automation

Tweeting, meeting, talking, walking, speaking, blogging – above all – listening. A busy week at the Financial Management Institute (FMI) Professional Development Week in Gatineau, Quebec.  Presentations: product roadmap, technical deep drives, performance management and Government 2.0, the value proposition of ERP in government. Eight strategic customer meetings.  Five days of conference presentations. A Canada Export Achievement Award. What did we learn? Public Financial Management (PFM) automation is transitioning the second generation in the Government of Canada.

Here are the transition signs:

  • Government Resource Planning (GRP): from integrating software systems to integral software approaches
  • Government Performance Management: from compliance to impact
  • E-Government: from structural to social (Government 2.0)

From Integration to Integral

(Automating the entire Budget Cycle)

We’ve spoken about this transition to the second generation of PFM automation. Software applications were developed to support operational government requirements. These applications became a collection of automation silos. Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) applications entered the government market. Some were government specific like the FreeBalance Accountability Suite. Some were generic applications customized for government. As we described in our presentation, the Business Case for ERP in Government, integration has become a transitional theme: integrate the silos. Vendors have promoted the notion of single enterprise software suite across government. Why? Easier to integrate. What is really happening in PFM in Canada?

  • Mission-critical applications are difficult to satisfy with generic software because of the board range of government mandates and lines of business
  • Cost to integrate within generic software suites and to custom-developed applications remains difficult because of proprietary monolithic approaches
  • Automation gaps are revealing as government organizations think outside the confines of traditional enterprise software categories

This second generation of PFM automation in Canada is characterized by:

  • Extending application categories such as government accounting or human resources to comprehensive process automation
  • Breaking the distinction between applications focused on so-called “structured” and “unstructured” data
  • Recognizing what can be standardized in government and what cannot, while on the road to shared services
  • Integrating budget management across all automated tools

This integral approach is holistic. Government organizations at the federal and provincial levels are pushing the limits of traditional software approaches. Financial managers focus on needs and objectives. They recognize that integration points alone do not provide effective management insight – especially when application components were not designed with budgets in mind. We found creative thinkers over the past week and a half looking for intuitive solutions. Financial managers recognize that PFM automation is much more than a collection of features or integrated features. PFM automation needs the right set of intuitive features that span transactions, documents and collaboration.

From Compliance to Impact

(Government Performance Management)

Government performance management was an important theme at the FMI Professional Development week. As we have written before, governments have moved beyond budget compliance – ensuring that money is spent according to the budget. Governments are focusing on improving results. The Canadian federal government Treasury Board Secretariat has developed numerous standards for performance management. Standards for “value for money” that aligned to risk. Performance management made easy – high business case scrutiny when risks are high. Appropriate measurements when risk is low.

From Structural to Social

(from E-Government to Government 2.0)

The Canadian public service is subject to demographic change. The millennial generation has entered the public service with advanced information technology expectations. The previous generation of PFM automation requires users to navigate through multiple tools to accomplish work. Through complex software generating visual noise. Public servants struggling through complex software rather than improving results.

Automating the structural “business process” represents the end of the first generation of PFM automation. The Canadian public service is beginning to understand the positive impact of Government 2.0.  There are skeptics whose experience with the first generation of PFM automation across the “boom, bust and echo” believes that the culture of government will never change. Yet, the focus of the Professional Development Week was “leadership.” Leadership for change. Leadership at every level of the public service.

We’ve identified six technology and five functional trends in this second generation of PFM. Three of these were important themes at FMI and customer discussions.

FreeBalance Government of Canada Discussions


Our Financial Management Institute of Canada (FMI) Professional Development Week started early with presentations to the FreeBalance Government of Canada Cluster and to our Performance Budgeting for Human Capital (PBHC) customers in Ottawa. FreeBalance has the largest cluster in the Government of Canada – 28 departments, agencies and commissions. And, PBHC has become the gold standard for civil service planning and salary planning. We’re participating in FMI as a sponsor. We’ll be talking about new product releases and describing how government performance management needs Government 2.0 in order to succeed.

The Cluster presentation was a deep dive into the technology of the FreeBalance Accountability Suite. Both presentations ended with invitations to join the on-line FreeBalance Customer Exchange. We started both presentations with a quick business update including mentioning the Uganda Civil Service Management implementation and the reduction of open support cases by 64% over the past 18 months.

This wasn’t your typical roadmap presentation: “this is what you’re going to get, this is when you’re going to get it, this is when you’re going to have to upgrade, if you don’t like it, it’s too bad.” After all, the FreeBalance roadmap is owned by customers. Our goal is to align our roadmap: government customers tell us what we are going to deliver and when we are going to deliver it.

 We described the FreeBalance Accountability Suite original design criteria. We believe that many problems experienced in the implementation of Government Resource Planning (GRP) systems originate with the design. We’ve written and presented our lesson-learned: the typical methods used by software vendors to design, develop and implement software needs to be adjusted to support Public Financial Management (PFM) needs.

Social networking capabilities, often called Government 2.0,  are required for the current generation of pure-web GRP. We showed part of our original vision case from 2005. This original vision included the fundamental integration of transactions, content and collaboration within a single system architecture.

We described:

There were many questions that we were able to clarify:

  • Version 7 of the FreeBalance Accountability Suite provides comprehensive human resources and payroll functionality – full civil service management
  • FreeBalance is testing  software using VMWare
  • The technical infrastructure is open – we are prepared to support other operating system environments other than Linux and Windows
  • How “custom domains” differs from the typical “additional fields” approach
  • How the technology is scalable and the scale of recent implementations
  • Exact method for multiple year chart of accounts
  • How customers can customize help, documentation and e-learning
  • Software deployment

We look forward to more dialog with our Government of Canada customers. We described how customers can participate to help design, adapt and test. Web 2.0 tools provide companies with the ability to support customer disruptive  innovation, as described by Clayton Christensen.  It’s a far cry from the days of “Mad Men” – creating demand when there isn’t any. The management of the Cluster has been enabling more interaction among customers and with FreeBalance. We are working together to leverage tools to enable more peer communications.

Wireless and ICT for Development (ICT4D)

The Web 2.0 Digital Divide

The promises of Web 2.0 tools, when conceived of in advanced industrial countries, are almost unequivocally welcomed with open arms. Consider Web 2.0 in emerging countries, however, and the issue becomes a great deal murkier. What good is this web-based phenomenon when fewer than 10% of people in many emerging countries can even access the internet?

Concerns about this problem – commonly known as the ‘digital divide’ – tend to dampen enthusiasm regarding the rise of Web 2.0 as a tool for governance and sustainable development. It’s bad enough that the digital divide between rich countries and poor countries is as wide as it is. But if one takes a closer look at the statistics, it emerges that even within poor countries, the statistics reflect the usage of an elite few. The numbers, in other words, are worse than they seem. The demographic most in need of basic services is also least likely to find the tools to access them.

And even as Web 2.0 – and Government 2.0 – advances in emerging countries, can a ‘networked culture’ be more exclusionary than inclusionary? As more and more social and governmental services move online and begin to use the internet as their primary means of communication, will those beyond the digital divide be even further disadvantaged?

Mobile Telephony

The odds seemed pitted against Web 2.0 until a simple observation about the popular conception of the ‘digital divide’ turned things around. The notion of the digital divide mostly focuses on the differential access to computers and the Internet among people in a society. But as Mark Warschauer, author of Technology and Social Inclusion: Rethinking the Digital Divide points out, “this binary definition fails to do justice to the complex reality of various people’s differing access to technology.”

 Differing access to technology… A-ha! What about the cellular phone?

Bingo. A cursory internet search revealed that the prospects, suddenly, were not so bad after all. Examples of how mobile telephony is breaching the digital divide – and more importantly, providing access to once inaccessible services – abound. As observed in a recent article in the Economist, the many “anecdotal examples … illustrate the myriad unseen ways in which mobile phones are improving people’s lives across the world, and in the developing world in particular.”

We won’t burden you with these examples since they’re all public information, but here’s an especially illustrative and interesting one. An enterprising civil servant in Pakistan’s Jhang District developed a novel way (the ‘Jhang Model of Governance’, as it came to be known in the Pakistani press) to counter corruption. Zubair Bhatti directed clerks who handled land transfers to submit a daily list of transactions along with the mobile phone numbers of buyers and sellers. He explained that he would call these citizens at random to inquire whether they’d been asked to pay bribes. Once charges were brought against a clerk who made light of Mr. Bhatti’s resolve, it became clear that Mr. Bhatti meant business. A sudden improvement in service was reported. Mr. Bhatti introduced this method to other sectors within his control, and efforts are now underway in the provincial government to extend the concept elsewhere.

Yet another article argues that traditional forms of society are more conducive to collaboration and information-sharing, and that this culture can be leveraged more efficiently with the use of mobile technologies.

Emerging country development

It’s clear that utilizing mobile technologies to provide more widespread access to information and services still requires a deep and long-term commitment on the part of emerging country governments. There are still millions of people out there who don’t have access to mobile technology. But suddenly, the cost barrier isn’t quite as high. Unlike efforts at minimizing the digital divide by distributing more and more computers to the underprivileged, the incentives for stakeholders advancing mobile telephony are much better aligned. Governments can leverage an already-existent relationship between wireless service providers and the increasing number of citizens who can now afford it. And major mobile phone manufacturers have already begun catering to the large customer base in developing countries. It’s something of a win-win situation.

Granted, just as there are in advanced industrial countries, there are “cultural barriers” within government that might make the widespread advancement of mobile technologies all the more difficult. The argument, not unlike theories of globalization and the state, is premised on the notion that citizens ‘taking things into their own hands’ (literally, in the case of mobile phones) undermines the writ of government. But the fact remains that the genie is out of the bottle, and the faster it can be favourably co-opted (see ‘Jhang Model of Governance’ above), the better. According to a recent whitepaper, 80% of the world’s population is covered by GSM technology, and more than 2 billion people currently have access to mobile phones. With 1 million new subscribers every day, this number is set to reach 4 billion by the end of 2010. The math is compelling. Rather than fearing that government authority will be undermined, governments must realize that mobile technology provides new avenues to increase citizen participation and satisfaction. And as more and more citizens realize that government is not just a service for an elite few (as it once may have been), their stake in it increases.

 At FreeBalance, we take pride in developing government resource planning solutions that advance the fundamental principles of good governance and sustainable development. The quest for more efficient and cost-effective ways to increase citizen participation in government is well within our mandate. While we try to discover new ways to advance economic growth and development through mobile technology, we welcome comments and suggestions that might help us along the way.

Government 2.0 and Government Resource Planning (GRP)

This is section 3.1.6 of a series of blog entries creating a Government IFMIS Technology Evaluation Guide. This includes information to assist in evaluating IFMIS options and the technology requirements for FreeBalance IFMIS implementations. These series will be combined with feedback to produce a comprehensive Technology Evaluation Guide to be published on our web site

This entry summarizes a number of previous posts about Government 2.0 including:

From E-Government to Government 2.0

E-government was the future. E-Gov was going to transform government. Improve citizen services. Integrate with “life events”. There have been many successful e-government initiatives. Yet government has not yet “transformed”.

Phase 1: Broadcast.  Citizens and businesses have access to information in a more efficient and effective manner than traditional mechanisms. Most governments provide information via the web.

Phase 2: Interact. In the second phase of e-government, businesses and citizens are able to interact with the government. They are able to start a transaction or.  This second phase improves efficiency because businesses and citizens are able to start transactions such as filling out government forms on-line.  Most governments provide interaction capabilities.

Phase 3: Transact. The third phase of e-government supports complete transactions. Citizens and businesses are able to fill out forms, request and pay for services. These “front-office” transactions integrate with “back-office” systems in governments to improve citizen and business services. Some governments support comprehensive transactions.

Phase 4: Transform. The fourth phase of e-government assumed that government services would be magically transformed. The nature of government would change. The relationship between governments and citizens would achieve a new level. But, this did not happen. There was no miracle. There has been some change in government, but not fulfilling the promise of e-government.

Government 2.0 is the logical extension of e-government. Government 2.0 can fulfill the promise of e-government. Many e-government initiatives exposed technology problems. Many governments were unable to integrate the front and back offices.

Phase 4: Single Point. Many experts foresaw the problem of the “single point of contact”. Any life event such as the birth of a child or the creation of a business can require interacting with many government entities across multiple levels. The need to support interaction for these life events is a critical stage. We believe that is the “missing link” to enable government transformation

Phase 5: Internal Collaboration. It is very difficult to transform government to interact and collaborate with citizens and businesses if the government does not collaborate internally. Governments need to collaborate across organizational boundaries. Traditional collaboration tools have not been as successful as Web 2.0 collaboration. We believe that governments need to leverage social networking tools for internal collaboration. This is a relatively low risk. Improving internal collaboration enables governments to move to the next phase.

Phase 6: Transform. Government organizations leveraging social networking for internal collaboration are able to extend externally. Government leaders will understand the power of collaboration and the benefits of exposing data based on the experience of internal collaboration.

Understanding Government 2.0 Effects

Our view is that Government 2.0 represents the technology continuum of e-government. We also see the linkage between Government 2.0 and government back-office technology.

We see government application categories as:

  • Internal: internal by governments
  • External: external to government with government involvement
  • Structural: follow government structure and mandate
  • Social: enable collaboration

This framework identifies three classes of applications:

  • Back-office: operational budget, financial and civil service management-transaction management
  • E-Government: exposing government information and transactions
  • Government 2.0: social networking whether exclusively internal or collaborating externally

Relevant Government Trends

There are numerous trends in government that have technology implications. These implications can be mapped against the Government 2.0 framework:

  • Collaboration: Use of Web 2.0 tools and metaphors is improving internal government efficiency and moving to external collaboration
  • Transparency: Exposing more government information to citizens and businesses is moving from the structural to the social domain
  • Accountability: More information from back-office systems is being presented to citizens. That information is being mashed up and analyzed and providing a feedback loop to government
  • Performance: Internal social networking and feedback from citizens, businesses and civil society are improving government performance

FreeBalance and Government 2.0

The FreeBalance Accountability Suite was designed with Government 2.0 as core. The underlying architecture is designed to integrate transactions with content and collaboration – to extend the internal structural back-office to enable internal and external social networking. And, the rich application user interface has been designed for simplicity.

Governments Can Be Hip 2.0

In a panel discussion hosted this afternoon by the ICGFM in Washington, DC, Mark Drapeau lamented just how hard it is to define Government 2.0. Or,  determine how governments can take to successfully adopt it.

We’re not quitters, so perhaps we can leverage the wisdom of the crowds?

To paraphrase Wikipedia, Government 2.0 is the integration of Web 2.0tools such as wikis, social networking sites, blogs, RSS, Google Maps (the list goes on) to devise more effective processes for government service delivery to individuals and businesses.

Basically: Government + Web 2.0 = Government 2.0 = Effective service delivery.

There’s more to it, in our opinion, and there’ll be more on that later. But it’s a good starting point, and besides, improvement through collaboration is the whole point of Web 2.0 anyway, right?

Either way, it wasn’t too long ago (and it’s still somewhat true today) that government was thought of as clunky and inaccessible, a flannel-clad mass of nameless and faceless bureaucrats that taxed you in exchange for traffic signals and a vague feeling of security. (Mind you, public servants have names and faces.)

It took the rise of the internet for this conception of government to begin to change. The wonders of the web brought with it talk of fundamentally different interactions between citizen and state. As we detailed earlier, there was much interest and theorizing. But unfortunately, the hopes of e-Government were not realized. Few governments managed to move beyond its elementary phases.

About a decade since, the buzz around Government 2.0 – and there is a lot – resembles the excitement that accompanied the rising spectre of e-Government. But is Government 2.0 really categorically different? And more importantly, what suggests that, unlike e-Government, it won’t be destined for limited success?

The tremendous interest in Government 2.0 generates opinions across the board on these questions. We’d like to hear your opinions, and have offered two points as ‘food for thought’ that might inform the debate.

First – and this is why the Wikipedia definition is lacking – Web 2.0 is fundamentally different because it is multi-dimensional, multi-scalar, and multi-directional. This is an idea developed from Neil Brenner’swritings on political geography and globalization. Conceived of in the context of Government 2.0, it is clear that its benefits are not just to be found in more effective “service delivery to individuals and businesses.” In fact, the essential difference between the early days of internet and its current mashed-up incarnation in Web 2.0 is its multi-directionality. Web 2.0 is social – it is differentiated by offering a medium that allows two-way (or multi-way) interaction and collaboration.

What does this mean for Government 2.0? The Wikipedia definition leaves much to be desired because it implies only one dimension upon which Government 2.0 operates: government services to citizens or businesses. Web 2.0 tools, on the contrary, can be (and to some extent, are being) leveraged by governments for a wider permutation of flows.

A framework developed in a paperby Dr. Mark Drapeau and Dr. Linton Wells II captures this potential perfectly. Governments can use social software on four different dimensions:

  1. Inward sharing – sharing information within agencies
  2. Outward sharing – sharing information with other relevant agencies
  3. Inbound sharing – obtaining input from citizens and other people outside of government
  4. Outbound sharing – communicating with and empowering people outside of government

The paper presents excellent examples of how these ‘dimensions’ are already in use in various instances around the world, and is necessary reading.

We’re curious whether sequencing Government 2.0 – implementing it one dimension at a time – will ease the ‘cultural transformation’ that is required of governments to adopt it. For example, if government agencies can begin with increased information collaboration within agencies and with other agencies, this might facilitate future efforts to channel this collaboration outwards. And there certainly is scope for them to step up efforts on all four fronts.

It might seem somewhat pedantic to harp on definitions, but defining what a project entails (yes, Government 2.0 is a project) is an essential first-step towards creating a successful roadmap. We’d like to hear your views on whether sequencing Government 2.0 as outlined above is a feasible mode to proceed on – or whether there is an alternative ‘definition’ that better informs how the challenges of Government 2.0 adoption can be overcome.

Second, when considering what gives Government 2.0 a more favourable shelf-life than e-Government, we run into a paradox that we’d also like your input on. On the one hand, as Mark Drapeau said in today’s panel discussion, government culture (hierarchical, secretive, and closed) and Web 2.0 culture (flat, transparent, and accessible) are diametrically opposed. However, at the same time, we recognize a certain “cultural logic of networking” (to borrow from Jeffrey Juris’ brilliant book on anti-globalization movements) that not only transforms citizens’ expectations of government but also empowers them to make demands for openness and transparency with greater effect. Much has been said of President Obama’s use of social media for his campaign efforts, but consider an alternate view: By using tools that intrinsically espouse an anti-hierarchical culture, President Obama’s campaign was strongly attractive to a generation reared on a diet of collaboration, sharing, and openness. In other words, it wasn’t just the effectiveness of the medium in recruiting grassroots campaigners; the medium itself became the message.

Yes, there are numerous challenges to Government 2.0. But we’re optimistic. There’s the normative idea: Web 2.0 tools applied to government are a leap and a jump ahead of the promise of e-Government and must be advanced.

But there’s also a descriptive side. The tools themselves make it easier for government to adopt Web 2.0, whether by informing and advancing the debate through accessible channels of knowledge-sharing, providing incentives for innovation, or creating a social culture that won’t take no to transparency and openness as an answer. These challenges won’t be overcome overnight, we know, but in the meantime we’ll be on the Wikipedia ‘Edit’ page.