This post also appears on the AGIMO blog, where you are able to contribute comments and continue the conversation.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, that’s about it from us. We laboured hard, but less long than some similar exercises and came up with a report of which I think we were all proud. Now, at least if I can speak for myself, I think the government response has shown that it was worthwhile. Very significant progress has been made in the government’s response to our report.
Though I must confess as an outsider, it seemed just plain commonsense, when we started the Taskforce almost no government documents had been licensed ‘creative commons’ (CC). Now the government has accepted our recommendation that CC be the default, and indeed that the default be one of the most permissive licences CC-BY which allows complete freedom to reproduce, and remix subject only to the acknowledgement of the original source.
So having advocated what I used to see as no more than a small commonsensical change, I’m pleased to see that it’s been adopted, with the response to the Government 2.0 Taskforce being one of the first cabs off the rank to be licensed CC-BY. Australia will be one of the first governments in the world with such a policy. For me the change is also emblematic of the bigger picture. For the last few months journalists have asked me questions which have assumed that the ‘big day’ was the day of the announcement.
Throughout I’ve remained unperturbed about the announcement, not because it doesn’t matter, but because all those at the top can do is to do their best to embrace the possibilities of Government 2.0, to try to actively facilitate it, including, where appropriate, get out of the way. The announcements we have are exciting. Our recommendations were fairly uncompromising, and the government has adopted all the most important ones.
But, and I would have been saying this no matter what the decisions were, what really matters is what happens now. Because Government 2.0 is ultimately about what individual agencies, and yes, individual public servants do to make it happen. Before them lies a vast field of promise, but one that is still new. It won’t always be easy to work out ways of being more open, more candid, more participatory at the same time as being just as professional and apolitical as public servants have always been expected to be. (Especially when the media, and those whose job it is to point to inadequacies in the government’s performance, lie in wait every hour of the week for the thrill of some slip-up or embarrassment whether imagined, or otherwise.)
But we’ve been going about the job for a little while now and there are lots of experiments underway, many of which are already proving their success. One of the things I took most pride in was the enthusiasm with with the International Reference Group we’d managed to sign up, responded to the report. They were kind enough to record some of their comments on our blog and and we were immodest enough to record some of them in Chapter Seven of our report.
Gartner’s Andrea DiMaio gave us an ‘A’ and second top billing in his list of ‘bests’ for Government 2.0 in 2010. I think an important reason he did is because we foregrounded the role of public servants in Government 2.0 (to whom he gave top billing!). That just underscores the fact that, along with open data, specific projects and the way public servants engage online with the Australian community are the building blocks of Government 2.0. read more…