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DorobekInsider: Government 2.0 from down under — the final report of the Government 2.0 Task Force

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We told you about this when it was formed and we have been watching it’s evolution — well, yesterday, Australia’s Government 2.0 Task Force published its final report, Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0.

I final report is posted below and I’m literally going to read it as soon as I finish this post, but…

Some key points from the findings (emphasis is mine, not the task force):

  • Government 2.0 or the use of the new collaborative tools and approaches of Web 2.0 offers an unprecedented opportunity to achieve more open, accountable, responsive and efficient government.
  • Though it involves new technology, Government 2.0 is really about a new approach to organising and governing. It will draw people into a closer and more collaborative relationship with their government. Australia has an opportunity to resume its leadership in seizing these opportunities and capturing the resulting social and economic benefits.
  • Leadership, and policy and governance changes are needed to shift public sector culture and practice to make government information more accessible and usable, make government more consultative, participatory and transparent, build a culture of online innovation within Government, and to promote collaboration across agencies.
  • Government pervades some of the most important aspects of our lives. Government 2.0 can harness the wealth of local and expert knowledge, ideas and enthusiasm of Australians to improve schools, hospitals, workplaces, to enrich our democracy and to improve its own policies, regulation and service delivery.
  • Government 2.0 is a key means for renewing the public sector; offering new tools for public servants to engage and respond to the community; empower the enthusiastic, share ideas and further develop their expertise through networks of knowledge with fellow professionals and others. Together, public servants and interested communities can work to address complex policy and service delivery challenges.
  • Information collected by or for the public sector — is a national resource which should be managed for public purposes. That means that we should reverse the current presumption that it is secret unless there are good reasons for release and presume instead that it should be freely available for anyone to use and transform unless there are compelling privacy, confidentially or security considerations.
  • Government 2.0 will not be easy for it directly challenges some aspects of established policy and practice within government. Yet the changes to culture, practice and policy we envisage will ultimately advance the traditions of modern democratic government. Hence, there is a requirement for co-ordinated leadership, policy and culture change.
  • Government 2.0 is central to the delivery of government reforms like promoting innovation; and making our public service the world’s best.

You can download a copy of the report as a PDF or Word document from here… I have also posted it below.

As I say, I’m going to read the full report next. I’d also love to hear your thoughts about the findings.

View this document on Scribd

Written by cdorobek

December 23, 2009 at 5:22 AM

DorobekInsider: The UK government encourages tweeting — and issues Twitter guidance

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I mentioned that I was over the Britain for the past few days celebrating my sister’s birthday. (My mother was able to rent this remarkable place designed by famous British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, who designed the British Embassy‘s Ambassador’s residence in Washington, DC, which is part of the Massachusetts Avenue historic district and is a marvelous building that unfortunately gets overlooked because of the modern new part of the embassy.)

While I was “across the pond,” there was an item stuffed inside the London papers — the British government was encouraging its career workers to use Twitter. Here is the story from the BBC:

New government guidance has been published urging civil servants to use the micro-blogging site Twitter.

twitterLaunched on the Cabinet Office website, the 20-page document is calling on departments to “tweet” on “issues of relevance or upcoming events”…

Neil Williams, of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), published the “template” strategy.

Writing on the Cabinet Office’s digital engagement blog, Mr Williams – who is BIS’s head of corporate digital channels – conceded that 20 pages was a “a bit over the top for a tool like Twitter” but added: “I was surprised by just how much there is to say – and quite how worth saying it is.”

You the full BBC story here.

Read Williams’ full post about the Twitter strategy here.

He has some good recommendations in his post:

For the next version of this document I’d like to set down how and when civil servants should support, encourage and manage Ministers’ use of Twitter for Departmental business (and navigate the minefield of propriety this might imply), and add a light touch policy for officials who tweet about their work in a personal capacity.

Finally, some of the benefits I’ve found of having this document in my armoury are:

  • To get buy-in, explain Twitter’s importance to non-believers and the uninitiated, and face down accusations of bandwagon-jumping
  • To set clear objectives and metrics to make sure there’s a return on the investment of staff time (and if there isn’t, we’ll stop doing it)
  • To make sure the channel is used consistently and carefully, to protect corporate reputation from silly mistakes or inappropriate use
  • To plan varied and interesting content, and enthuse those who will provide it into actively wanting to do so.
  • As a briefing tool for new starters in the team who will be involved in the management of the channel

I hope you’ll find it useful too.

And, in fact, you can read the UK guidance below… or download the PDF here:

View this document on Scribd

I should note here in the US, there is a somewhat grass roots group called the Social Media Subcouncil, which hosts a wiki and collects information about items just like this. EPA’s Jeffrey Levy was on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris earlier this year talking about the group and what they hope to accomplish. Hear that conversation here… and see the subcouncil’s collection of best practices and policies here.

One other note (and a slight poke): Why isn’t this kind of policy being done by GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy — to help put something like this together… to pull people together to talk about the challenges and issues. I know there are many good people in OGP, but they just don’t appear to be players in an area where they should be the leaders. Instead, the phrase people say to me: GSA OGP is MIA. (I should note: I have been told by OGP folks that my impression of the role of the Office of Governmentwise Policy is incorrect. I thought it was to help guide policy. I would welcome that conversation.)

Written by cdorobek

July 30, 2009 at 8:37 AM

DorobekInsider: A UK idea – The best way to help the postal service is to ignore the Internet

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Let me start out by noting that this is a discussion going on in Britain, but there are many organizations — including parts of the media — that I think would just like this whole Internet thing to go away. (Ah yes, this InterWeb is just a fad, right?)

Essentially, the UK Parliament’s Commons Business and Enterprise Committee has published a report suggesting that the drive toward e-government is undermining the British postal service.

Here is the report by UK’s Computing headlined E-government is not always the best option, say MPs; Commons committee questions drive to put public services online, and says face-to-face services must still have their place:

MPs have questioned the drive towards e-government and accused Whitehall departments of undermining local Post Offices by pushing online services instead of over-the-countertransactions.

A report from the all-party Commons Business and Enterprise Committee cited as examples the campaign to persuade motorists to renew vehicle excise licences on the web instead of at sub-Post Offices, and the strategy to persuade pensioners to receive payments into bank accounts instead of collecting them over the counter.

The committee’s report, most of which concerned the need to find more new business to keep local offices viable, said the public “is deeply sceptical about the extent to which it is acceptable to offer services online only, with widespread concern that certain disadvantaged groups find themselves further disadvantaged by ignorance as to how to use the internet and inability to afford a computer.”

Read more here

I’m not an expert in UK government, but I believe this would be the equivalent to a U.S. congressional committee.

Here is an excerpt of the report Post Offices – Securing their Future:

We should not underestimate the need for mail services. The internet may be reducing the number of letters sent, but technology has enabled people to set up businesses in remote areas, and increased the demand for packet and parcel services…

Many of the problems facing the (postal) network are a consequence of the Government moving services online, and so reducing Post Office Ltd’s income. But people see the post office network as a public service, and expect the Government to support it. We believe the Government has seriouslyunderestimated the potential of the network to serve as a link between government and its citizens. Although some departments are seizing the opportunity a truly national network offers to allow easy access to their services, many government departments are woefullyunimaginative about the needs of their customers, and show too little respect for members of the public’s right to choose how to deal with the Government.

The Digital Britain report sets out ambitious proposals for a Digital Switchover of Public Services in which the internet would be the primary means of access to public services, rather than one of many. We wholeheartedly support e-delivery of public services; it can be more convenient for the user, and more cost-effective to the taxpayer. But however much the Government may want to encourage digital inclusion, it also needs to prevent social exclusion. The British public believes that post offices are essential to the fabric of our society. Those who contacted us were eloquent in their belief that the post office closure programmes may have saved Post Office Ltd costs, but had displaced those costs onto individuals, and onto society as a whole. They were also sceptical about the extent to which online services were desirable. We note that 40% of households do not have access to theinternet . Members of the public can be encouraged online — they should not be driven there. Social exclusion and isolation can often best be countered by encouraging face-to-face services.

It makes no sense for one arm of government to recognize the importance of the network, while another makes policy proposals which do not recognize people’s right to access services in ways which suit them, not the state. The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform was clearly committed to the success of the post office network; however, the new Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Government as a whole need to share that commitment.

Find the full report here

The Post Office has been used to provide public services and private services in partnership for nearly four centuries; we have no doubt that with will and imagination, and whole-hearted government support, it can continue to do so.

I fully understand the concern — almost the consternation — that many organizations have with the Internet, which has completely changed the business model for so many organizations. The postal service has clearly seen its world change. So has media, of course. But the notion that the option is to ignore how people are doing their work is beyondpreposterous. The challenge is figuring out a business model that works better — and being more efficient and competitive.

Written by cdorobek

July 9, 2009 at 1:27 PM

A government 2.0 movie — really

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So there is a movie about government 2.0 — really. It comes out of Britain and just debuted last week. It’s called Us Now.

Us Now is a one-hour documentary produced by Banyak Films. It had its premiere at the RSA — the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts — on Dec. 3.

Here is a preview…

I’m trying to get in touch with the people behind the movie… see if there is a U.S. release or whether it will eventually be posted on YouTube or something… We’d also like to talk to him on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris.

After the break, read the synopsis of the movie…
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

December 9, 2008 at 7:06 AM