This site was developed to support the Government 2.0 Taskforce, which operated from June to December 2009. The Government responded to the Government 2.0 Taskforce's report on 3 May 2010. As such, comments are now closed but you are encouraged to continue the conversation at

Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0: Draft report for comment

2009 December 7
by Peter Alexander [Taskforce Secretariat]

Here is the draft Government 2.0 Taskforce report Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0. The Taskforce is seeking your comments and input before finalising the report to go to Government.

Please understand that this is a draft and there will be some proofing issues which we are still working on.  Your comments are welcome on those, but we are working on them as you read this – of most value are your comments on the substance of the draft report.

We are providing it to you in a range of formats below.  The prime document which we’ve been working from is the Word document. We have also converted it into HTML (both here on the blog and on CommentPress) and PDF. You may notice formatting differences between the different versions. You can leave a comment on the HTML version below; on our Consultation page using CommentPress; or you can send us an email.

Your comments will help inform and improve the final report. We cannot promise to consider comments received after 5PM Wednesday 16th December 2009.

71 Responses
  1. 2009 December 7

    Very impressive piece of work with a great read across to the UK. Thank you.

  2. 2009 December 7

    Great work! Thanks very much for this and we will be going through the report and contributing any feedback as soon as we can. Thanks for putting the draft up for final comment!

  3. 2009 December 7

    I just had a quick skim, but it looks very interesting. Obviously written by people with “Clue”. Excellent!

    Just a quibble about the consultation page, could it be made to be full width instead of fixed width? Or maybe drop off the third column? I find it pretty cramped as it is and I keep getting lost (maybe a link to jump back to the TOC could be added to the top of the non-moving second column?)

    • 2009 December 14
      Jimi Bostock permalink

      Yep, add me to the list, first look and I am pleased. It is an impressive step on the road and I am confident that the TF has the legs to ’sell’ into government.

  4. 2009 December 8
    Gerry White permalink

    What a great report. Very impressive and mostly forward thinking. I was thrilled to read such a well researched report which identifies culture as a major factor. However, there are three areas in which the report can be strengthened.

    1. The most celebrated Australian Government online Web 2.0 national service is undoubtedly Education Network Australia (EdNA) which began in 1995 and was the first web-based data driven web service in Australia. This service is the envy of the world in government, education and training, if you follow the literature and research blogs. However, EdNA is not hailed in the report as an exemplary, innovative, pre-eminent Australian national service, acknowledged internationally, nor is its pioneering innovation that pre-dated every other Australian Government department even mentioned. This is a gross oversight because EdNA has been at the forefront of government online collaboration now for nearly fifiteen years.

    2. The report does not define collaboration yet it relies on the idea of collaboration as a ‘good’ thing to do in order to enhance democracy which is laudable. In its simplest form collaboration can be inferred from the report to mean ‘working together’. However, that is no different from cooperation, consultation, coordination or networking. For the report to be credible, a robust definition of collaboration is needed. The definition should include the capacities to ‘work together’ and to ‘create knowledge’ as essential components of collaboration. The literature is quite clear on this point.

    3. A minor but common error is to name Sir Tim Berners-Lee as the inventor of the World Wide Web. However, he was the co-inventor at CERN in 1989 with Robert Cailliau. I suggest you check the literature on this point in Gillies and Caillau, How the web was born and Berners-Lee The World Wide Web and the Web of Life or even Wikipedia even though it is slightly factually incorrect. Cailliau and Berners-Lee each put forward a proposal at the same time but decided to use the one from Berners-Lee. They both then set about to achieve their proposal after agreeing a name for it as the World Wide Web as they eat lunch in the CERN cafeteria courtyard .

    Congratulations and keep up the good work.

    Best wishes
    Gerry White

    • 2009 December 9

      ((Please retract your erroneous paragraph 3. See Tim’s FAQ. Or ask Robert. Thanks!))

      Cita Motua

    • 2009 December 9
      Nicholas Gruen permalink


      I agree with your first point. I’m in a minority in not liking definitions much. Once you define something, it has a fixed meaning. Of course it’s not a case of anything goes – obviously one uses words as accurately as one can – but we’ve had a little bit of a debate about the difference between the expression ‘co-creation’ which some of the literature suggests is somehow more than collaboration. Personally I think words should have clear meanings but not so that they cannot take on shades of meaning from specific contexts.

      Still, we are going to try to define ‘open government’ a little more specifically in the final and in my opinion these things are matters of judgement and of style with the proof of the pudding being in the eating. So if you (or anyone else) wants to propose a redraft of any section proposing a definition or doing anything else, please be my guest. Just download the .doc file, activate revision marks and send it in. If we like it, we’ll go with it.

    • 2009 December 14
      Jimi Bostock permalink

      Yes, Cita is right. TBL is the inventor. There is a complete paper trail to confirm this.

      I agree that Edna is one of the most brilliant sites around but I am not so sure of its 2.0 cred. For my mind, there is some disconnects between content and collaboration in the architecture of the site. I think it could improve on a range of fronts. Not to diminish its core value but I would slighlty argue against the notion that it is a gross oversight. In my little niche interest, it could do with more video content, perhaps even UG video content. It would certainly not have passed muster as a benchmark in our video consultancy for the TF.

      The collaboration points are very valid but I can also see where Nicholas is coming from. I look forward to seeing if there is some more work on defining collaboration in the final report. I think you make really good and valid points. It is possible that we can all take stuff for granted that other audiences might need more guidence on what a term actually means in an agency.

  5. 2009 December 8

    Great work and certainly heading in the right direction. There is considerable mention of transparency with the public and what tools could help to make this a reality – wiki’s, forums, Instant Messaging etc. My experience over the past few years with web 2.0 collaboration and communication platforms strongly suggests that internal use is a must so that employees & management understand the benefits before rolling out a public face for their organisation. Without this knowledge any public presence will not be effective and may not achieve the goals you are aiming for. In some cases the value of web 2.0 tools may be much greater when used internally, such as with Instant Messaging, than they are as an external access medium.

  6. 2009 December 8

    The report is fine and the sentiments are indeed welcome. However, the problem becomes: “what is government supposed to do with all this information and how can they analyse it all effectively and effciently to make sense of it?
    The answer would be to use a methodology and a tool called SenseMaker that analyses this type of feedback and looks for emerging patterns from which government can make informed interventions and decisions. I understand that SenseMaker is used by governments in Singapore, the UK and the US as a sophisticated tool of analysis. Without a tool for good analysis, feedback and public opinion will only tell part of the story.

    • 2009 December 8

      @Brad – There is plenty of local expertise to help in this area. NICTA is actually developing some technology to assist with this – for example, Sen. Kate Lundy used it for her Public Sphere events. The company I work for, Headshift, is also working with companies in Australia to help them listen and understand what people are saying about them in social media and on social networks, and there is no reason why the same approaches can’t be extended to government.

  7. 2009 December 8

    Looks like a great start. Very pleased to see this all coming together, and the drive towards embracing open standards. I’ve been a huge fan of the National Archives’ Xena software and what they’ve been doing to preserve digital information in general, good to see them used as an example.

    I look forward to seeing the actions proposed here, and the cultural change required within government. The role of the Online Community Manager is going to become a very important one indeed to ensure these Government 2.0 proposals thrive in ‘the real world’ – I speak from experience, keeping the community talking and producing great work is quite the mountain to climb but well worth it!

  8. 2009 December 9

    Pleased to see you feel, “of most value are your comments on the substance of the draft report.” But, a little worried.

    159 pages, 50,000 plus words, many detailed recommendations and only 9 days to respond.

    An interesting exercise in community consultation. Of course, not a problem if we all confine our responses to 140 word tweets.

    • 2009 December 9

      Hi Roger, I think that this is a slightly different than usual review in that pretty much all the content has been contributed and commented upon online through this blog. So it isn’t a case of having to parse from scratch an enormous document and respond accordingly, for many they have been engaged in the conversation for some time and this is just a read through to ensure it adequately and accurately reflects the ideas that have already been discussed through online and in person consultations. 10 days is a bit tight, but it is a tight deadline for everyone :)


      DISC: I work for Senator Kate Lundy who is not directly involved with this project, but we both are supporters :)

  9. 2009 December 9

    Rowdy applause from the U.S. White House Open Government Initiative. The draft report is an impressive piece of work, assembling a vast trove of good ideas and sound analysis. We will study and learn.

    By way of update, earlier today we published the Obama Administration’s Open Government Directive. At first glance, there appears to be a great deal of congruence with the draft report.

    We wish you a vigorous public consultation, and look forward to the final report.


    Andrew McLaughlin, Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer

  10. 2009 December 10

    I join the rest to say it is a great start.

    Some comments on the recommendations:

    - 3 & 4: Interesting to discuss if there would be a way to ensure the conversations public servants engage in are robust are not just the type that many agencies are used to: “Thanks for your comments we will take them into account”

    - 6: Great recommendation

    - 12: I think it will be key to help the raise of more organisations working in the area

    I was also involved in one of the projects from the OECD where public servants and civil society practitioners were consulted around the areas of citizen engagement for public policy making. This is the video with those views that could provide some more food for thought.

  11. 2009 December 11
    Kevin Cox permalink

    For most citizens the most interesting and useful information that the government holds is about the citizen themselves. The task force report does not consider access to personal information except in the context of making sure that demographic data is not able to identify personal information about individuals.

    Because access to personal information by the person themselves is critical to building trust and cooperation with the government it would be desirable for the report to reaffirm a citizen’s right to access their own information. How to implement personal access to personal information could be a task for the Information Commissioner

    • 2009 December 11
      Nicholas Gruen permalink


      While I’m sympathetic to your own concerns here, do you feel that the current arrangements are inadequate in some way?

      I’m anxious not to stray into controversial territory which obscures the burden of the TF’s message, which is that ‘non-sensitive’ data should be freely available, open, machine readable etc.

      Where one draws the line between what’s released and what’s not is not a major focus for us – it’s getting all that stuff for which there are not plausible privacy, confidentiality and security arguments to protect secrecy – out there and fully open in all the senses enumerated in our draft report.

  12. 2009 December 11

    The draft is an impressive piece of work that gathers a dizzying array of ideas and makes coherent and cogent sense of them. It’s no less than I expected, having had discussions with several Taskforce members. Well done!

    I’ve put together my thoughts on some of the potential risks the work the Taskforce has done now faces as it moves to business as usual. You can read them on my blog.

    • 2009 December 11
      Nicholas Gruen permalink

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments Stephen. I appreciate that many people haven’t raced onto the blog and commented immediately, but have taken their time to read the report.

      • 2009 December 11
        Nicholas Gruen permalink

        A public servant’s reading against the grain of my last comment above and his quick email to me makes me think that, for the avoidance of doubt, I should add, that I’m not casting aspersions on the fast readers amongst you!

    • 2010 April 8
      Madeleine Kingston permalink

      Wow Stephen

      I will be following your work and blogs with great interest.

      I am a newcomer citizen wishing to effectively engage and still feeling my way round the maze of processes and archived material in order to gain a better understanding.

      I missed out on the early stages of dialogue and will have to go backwards to read about Taskforce deliberations.

      The lively on-line dialogue between Nicholas Gruen as Chair of the Taskforce created a real feeling of collaboration and even reading the exchange retrospectively online recreates a sense of real-time discussion

      In your blog “Much-promise-many-miles-to-travel-my-thoughts-on-the-government-2-0-taskforce-draft-report” published on acidlabs and referred to above in your post of 11 December you referred to the risk that with the disappearance of the Taskforce “….the work of the Taskforce becomes business as usual in some part of the byzantine machine that is the federal government. All that enthusiasm, interest, and modeling of the way things could and should be potentially goes dead in the water on 1 January.”

      This bothers me also. The potential is enormous for this imitative to provide real-time feedback to Government about stakeholder needs and expectations, and also importantly feedback as to where things may be malfunctioning with public policy in order that a stitch-in-time rectification process can be embarked upon long before protracted consultative processes fall short of any such goal and exhaust stakeholders through consultation fatigue – a real and seemingly incurable malady of the 21st century.

      It is not yet clear to me whether inputs to the Gov2 arena are being regarded as material useful to evaluation of general outcomes associated with online efforts to achieve enhanced community engagement, or whether the Taskforce goals are to seek concrete suggestions and proposals from the community as to how real-life governance and service delivery may be achievable.

      As mentioned in my blog on Project 19 on 7 April, I seek to learn more about sustainability goals, how the government will harness and utilize the information gleaned from citizen participants; whether two-way dialogue will be considered (at the very least every now and then); how citizens will be informed of the outcomes of their suggestions

      Rodger Hills as the author of The Consensus Artifact: 2007 Astro Projects Sydney discusses eloquently the principles of political governance like social justice, sustainability, human rights, participatory democracy, alternative monetary systems, limits on corporate power, cutting out political corruption, and holding governments accountable for their policies and actions.

      These principles appeal to my personal ideals especially as the material is presented in the context of how an ideally designed constitution may work to achieve collaborative democracy through the best use of citizen engagement.

      If any of these long-term goals are on the radar of the Gov2 Project, and if there is a genuine desire to create a new means of dialogue with this nation’s constituents, I’m in for the long haul but ahve a lot of catching up to do.

      I will continue to read your postings and blogs with great interest. There are many in the community who would like to see changes in the direction of a more citizen-driven democracy. I hope that I can learn from the great ideas and philosophies being discussed at many levels and that many of these will find their way into the Gov2 arena.



      Individual Stakeholder

      • 2010 April 8

        Thx Madeleine

        • 2010 April 9
          Madeleine Kingston permalink

          My pleasure Nicholas. Your appearance and encouragement is required even occasionally to keep things alive and show that there is a real person out there. Please also consider a means of regularly feeding back to stakeholders outcomes of suggestions, perhaps by publishing a table of outcomes every now and then, if resource constraints do not permit individual responses.

          Current formal consultative processes tend to be gruesomely one-sided and it is almost never possible to establish what has been done, if anything to properly consider or at least validate the enormous efforts that stakeholders sometimes make to engage and impact on public policy outcomes. Frequently one is made to feel as if the public service is offering a favour to allow participation – instead of accepting for an instant that things are the other way round.

          Stakeholders who give a damn make the effort, and therefore should not only be tolerated but given some feedback and encouragement to persist.

          The Productivity Commission made in a 2009 report on its Review of Regulatory Burden: Social and Infrastructure; Electricity gas water and waste services, Ch 3, p202.

          “The following quotes are illustrative of the concerns raised in submissions by participants from the energy sector:

          “… AER is requiring parties to resubmit material already submitted to the AER, even if it is part of an earlier submission to the ongoing regulatory process. Often information requests require the provision of information that has already been provided for a different purpose or is available through a simple web search. … such requests amount to requiring market participants to conduct research work for regulators rather than an appropriate information request. (APIA, sub. 12, p. 14)”

          The same can be said for inputs by community organizations and of individual stakeholders such as myself.

          In the same vein, I have been staggered to find that frequently complex, far-reaching inter-related decisions by government agencies and related incorporated bodies such as regulators (examples AER, AEMC, RET, MCE, ESC) are made in one arena without due regard to readily available related material submitted to other arenas is simply not accessed at all or considered though the impacts of decisions based on incomplete or inadequate information are obvious and often irreversible.

          On Gov 2 on 6 April (posting #12234 Mashies) I posted a blog detailing one pertinent current utility-related matter that may well suffer long-range flawed policy with significant economic and social impacts from what appears to be continuing inadequate inter-body collaboration and commitment to access all pertinent material, including those submitted to other arenas.

          For the phenomenal effort that I have personally made to have this matter fully aired by actively participating in the utility policy debate (with impacts on proposed generic provisions) I have been rewarded by sustained discouragement in one form or another, even to the point of being assured that the matter will not be dealt with however meritorious it may be.

          These messages whether covertly or overtly conveyed do not represent appropriate ways to secure long-range stakeholder commitment to engagement, and applies as much to online strategies to real life policy management.

          Therefore I would like to see e-Gov providing opportunities not only for cyber engagement and information accessibility, but as a sustainable means of communicating any deficiencies in collaboration with stakeholders or policy hiccups that could far more readily be corrected if addressed in a timely way in a spirit on cooperation.

          Any influence you may have in expanding existing e-Gov parameters in this regard would be greatly appreciated.

          Please do make at least a guest appearance online from time to time.



          Individual Stakeholder

  13. 2009 December 11
    Kerry Webb permalink

    It’s an impressive report, and I think the most challenging task arising will be around PSI. The obvious datsets (weather information, ABS data etc) will provide no (real) problem, but the lead agency will have its work cut out satisfying the requests from the non-government sector for information to be released.

    To take a simple example, a list of e-mail addresses of government webmasters would be a useful marketing tool – but should that be released and kept up to date, and at what cost? There would be thousands of similar cases throughout all levels of government.

    • 2009 December 14
      Jimi Bostock permalink

      can you send me that email list of webmasters when done :)

      • 2009 December 15
        Kerry Webb permalink

        It would be published openly – I think in the 2.0 era private deals will be discouraged B-)

    • 2009 December 15
      Gordon Grace permalink

      AGIMO’s WebManagers’ Mailing List may be a close approximation of what Kerry is asking for. Like many specialist mailing lists, membership is somewhat restricted (in this case, a * email address is all that is required).

      Government web managers could sign up to such a list expecting, quite reasonably, to be spared from vendors’ sales pitches. The names and email addresses on the list are provided on the understanding that they are notprovided to third parties.

      The restricted membership may also encourage an increase in the robustness of discussion (particularly of vendors’ products), and ensure that discussions remain focussed on the goals of the mailing list. It is a ’safe place’ for government web managers to discuss common issues and ask questions amongst themselves. Members are responsible for keeping the details ‘up-to-date’, in tandem with automated ‘dead recipient’ removal.

      If this list was made public without first acquiring approval from all of its members, Finance (AGIMO) would likely be in breach of the Privacy Act., however, has very different goals and purposes. Names, organisations, email addresses and phone numbers are exposed publicly (even made available as a bulk download), as the providing agencies understand and accept that that is why they contribute to the Directory.

      Further reading:
      - Privacy and Privacy Statements (AGIMO Web Publishing Guide)
      - Information Privacy Principles (Office of the Privacy Commissioner)

  14. 2009 December 11
    Michael Cranny permalink

    Am I dreaming to think that the actions proposed could seriously be taken up with zeal within our Federal Government?

    This report is a fantastic first step to a much more participatory style of democracy. It would be the biggest added value to the super fast broadband.

    But what are the realistic prospects for success in the medium term?

    By past performance, not good. It’s likely to be put at the end of a very long line of other pressing reforms in the queue waiting for attention by a PM who micro manages almost everything.

    To date we have seen little evidence of ‘fresh thinking’ in the way that government or the opposition does business. What became of the best of the 2020 summit recommendations? What value was placed on community input into the best climate control response for Australia?

    Tokenistic engagement produces poor policy advice and disjointed strategic planning. Will this status quo change? I hope so.

  15. 2009 December 14

    The draft report is conceptually solid and the recommendations practical and visionary. One of the more critical challenges is going to be, as Stephen has picked up on, is what happens once the Taskforce disappears? The risk averse and overly controlling culture of APS agencies remains and without a concerted effort will not change.

    As I indicated in my submission on the reform of Australian Government Administration I believe the ‘culture problem’ is created and perpetuated by the practices and processes of corporate areas within Agencies. So my suggestion is that the practices and processes of corporate areas be reviewed in order to shift the culture. I suspect they actually need to be doing less.

    Anecdotally, I am aware that one of the consequences of the work of the Taskforce itself is that it has made people more willing to engage in robust discussion and has had a liberating influence. That is a credit to the Taskforce. However, anecdotally, I am also aware that this has created some disquiet in corporate areas. Understandable of course, but the risk is that this disquiet and the disbanding of the Taskforce will result in inertia at a time when greater speed and agility is needed.

    To address the risk of inertia I suggest that the Open Declaration should be made as soon as possible by the Prime Minister. It would be a great New Years gift and set the tone for 2010 and beyond. I’d love to see it!

    My other suggestion for the report relates to the establishment of the Lead Agency. This Agency needs to be quite different from other APS Agencies in order to set an example for the rest of the APS. One of the ways to do this would be to set aside conventional APS recruitment processes and look at staffing the Lead Agency on a fixed term basis – e.g No tenure beyond 12 – 18 months. This would allow expertise and the champions of Gov 2.0 to move back into Agencies. I will give this more thought over the next week or so to provide more ideas on how this could work. One other thought – a mix of public and private sector expertise would be good.

    • 2009 December 14

      Some smart ideas there, Steve. I especially like the concept of ensuring lead agency staff cycle in and out to make sure that skills maturity passes back to line agencies.

      Pick me for that gig!

      • 2009 December 14

        Thanks for the feedback Stephen. Maybe people should just start putting there hands up to join the Lead Agency should it be formed.

        Count me in for sure.


        • 2009 December 14
          Jimi Bostock permalink

          count me in :)

  16. 2009 December 14

    While this has been a ferocious job of work, I am fascinated by all the concepts that do not seem to appear – let’s try the following:
    digital divide; Indigenous; Immigrant; cultural diversity(other than in the mention of the Institute for Cultural Diversity) ; linguistic diversity; social inclusion (other than in reference to the government’s social inclusion portal, which has been a consistent failure); languages other than English; Arabic; Spanish; Asian; Equity (a short footnote only); gender (a footnote and a category); disability…

    Am I seeing a pattern here? Could this be the game at the big end of town that simply ignores issues of equity or diversity? How is it possible when talking about “engaging” with government to have a report that disengages from the majority of the population? While the community input has been valiantly carried into the fray, this is a report that needs a lot of rethinking. It claims to be concerned with ” the opportunity to make representative democracy more responsive, and more participatory. ” But it makes no mention at all of the people for whom responsiveness and participation are major problems already. At least in the UK they recognise they have a culturally diverse population, with pockets of extreme disadvantage where social exclusion is compounded by technogical marginalisation. Unfortunately this exercise is so very Canberra and Tech Valley heavy that the realities of Australia’s cities and towns seems to have passed the conversation by. As as organisation deeply involved with participation, engagement and web 2.0 (Energetica is our partner and knows how hard this is) this report sends a major signal – more a warning claxon – to Australia’s Indigenous and Culturally Diverse and Disability and Social Justice communities — you’ll get whatever it is decided the main players want to have the system look like; your needs, orientations, specific issues and contributions will not be of interest.

    I am astounded that I have had to write this, as I expected something so much better.

    • 2009 December 14

      Andrew, I think your response here is a touch over-sensitive. The Taskforce and all their work has, at all times, been open, inclusive and encouraging of input from all sectors of Australian society.

      Yes, of course there are significant parts of the populace whose ability (mostly these days through inadequate technical skill rather than actual unavailability) to access services and programs delivered by government is limited. I don’t believe, however, that not mentioning them explicitly in the report means they aren’t considered. Rather, an extensive framework for accessible and equitable delivery of government services to all parts of society already exists beyond the scope of the report. Whether access and equity is done well in every case is another discussion altogether.

      I’m well aware of the issues faced by sectors of Australian society – I’m involved in volunteer work in the social sector and have extended family in rural and city Australia whose capabilities to access services are less than stellar – but largely due to education and technical capability.

      I think you’ve been unfair in your response here. There are people on the Taskforce for whom access and equity are major, top-of-mind considerations.

      • 2009 December 14
        Jimi Bostock permalink

        Just back in the swing of the blog after delivering our report on idea.

        Thanks Steve and Pia for handling some of the issues. I do feel like the TF has created a sort of funny family here. I know that I have certainly come to know key gov online players better and my estimation of their efforts has skyrocketed.

        I have not had the chance to get right into the draft report, as said, have been busy with our little bit. But, I will assume that the issues of access and equity that Andrew raises are based on a reasonable assesment of the draft report. If not, I will be back to make further comment.

        Steve points out that many on the TF are very well credentialled in A,E&D issues. Any ommission might be, as steve suggests, simply because there are a long-standing and ongoing efforts on the issues and so ‘out-of-scope’ in a report that is charting new territory.

        I certainly know that the team that worked on started from A,E&D and we devoted a lot of time to exploring the way that video (powered by new and emerging captioning oppportunities) could play a part in pulling down the walls of discrimination.

        In some ways, the issues raised are also partly addressed by Pia in responses to the timeframes for comments. My quick read of the report was much in Pia’s spirit, having travelled the path with the TF, I have a level of confidence that the report covers what the gov 2.0 community have talked about. the report is essentially the encapulation of a conversation between a good and deciated community with teh TF inputting, guiding, and listening.

        So, I can only assume that Andrew and the ICD have been inputting energetically into the process, the very open process. I don’t have the time to go through the whole blog and look. If not, well that is OK but it does need to be accepted that you can say anything about the gov 2.0 process but you can’t say it was not completely open to anyone to input. I dare anyone to show a gov initiative that has been more so.

        Anyway, this is the start of the line, not the end, and I think that we can expect the work to go on in the same inclusive, flexible manner. So, there is much time to keep the process honest in terms of access, equity, and diversity.

        I am with Steve, I think that Andrew’s input is a bit over-sensitive and I think that there are much better ways to address any perceived failings.

        I hope my response (and Steve’s) can be seen in the light of a forum doing a bit of self healing.

        Better get back to my report to the TF on how I found dealing with them. Sneak preview, it was brilliant.

      • 2009 December 16

        Well yes Stephen and Jimi, et al. I was dealing with the evidence in the report not the suggestion that the people involved in it aren’t nice people. I am not particularly sensitive about this issue, but I am confused when a report that claims to be about participation and engagement ignores the quite vast literature on issues of government responses to cultural diversity – the first report I did on this for the federal government was in 1987 (Equal Disappointment Opportunity) tracked through all the reasons given by the public sector as to why it was an issue of incapacity in the population, not a problem in the mind-set of the bureaucracy. I see a contemporary echo in some of the responses here. As for the social inclusion agenda, it has come under huge criticism for being in denial about cultural diversity in the main from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship; I’d be very wary in leaving the responsibility for equity issues to that part of the bureaucracy. As to the ICD involvement in this whole debate (, the ICD project with the Human Rights Commission gets a specific mention in the report as an exemplar of how government and communities can engage as more equal parties at arm’s length – yet it appears that the mention has no effect on the conceptualisation of the problems that Government 2.0 should address. We agree that the PS mindset or culture is a major question that requires sustained work — the Institute is arguing that the culture is not only technological and “political” but also affected by other hierarchies of power around ethnicity, race, disability and so on; the response by Government requires conscious integration, not marginalisation. I welcome the fact that we can at least open out this parameter for discussion.

    • 2009 December 17
      Andrew Clark permalink


      I very much agree with your comments, I was absolutely appalled that a report that was supposed to enhance social democratic processes and engagement at a National level, did not seek to address nor acknowledge that for many people there are very real systemic blocks to participating in this type of reform such as, lack of access to ICT due to cost or geographic isolation, poor literacy etc.

      The report I believe is predicated on a technological determinism rather than understanding the distribution and engagement of people within the social democratic process of government is above all cultural. This cultural understating is shaped by issues or class, power, gender and so forth. Technology be it a book a phone or radio is merely a facilitator. There fore any policy change or cultural change must deal and engage with these barriers. I agree that the report alluded to this, but to make it happen requires tangible funding directions and a conception of what it is to be citizen. Secondly I would have liked to see a real discussion on how public service act would be changed so as to allow public servants to engage with public. I would have also liked to have seen a charter by which politicians and senior government officers would accept the free and frank discussions by public servants on issues of policy or data they regularly use.

      There was also no real discussion on what and informed public debate should be and what outcome. What are the parameters what information and how should it be published. I personally do not believe twitter will make a difference. In fact, if anything it is a distraction and undermines the real nature of what considered policy development and engagement should be.

      For several people reply to Andrew that he is over sensitive in his criticism is I believe is extremely and profoundly unfortunate. Andrew and his colleagues for many decades have had to fight and continue to fight to ensure engagement with those most marginalised in Australia. Secondly I believe does not recognise significant and large expense by Governments at a State and Commonwealth level to broaden the conception of access from a passive idea of “build it and they will come”, to a notion that access is an active process where Governments and services must reach out and actively engage with the citizen.

      I was also deeply troubled that the section third sector and democracy were one section. This seemed to me to be a very odd grouping. Firstly I believe the whole report was about enhancing democracy and secondly many third sector organisations are deeply undemocratic. By this I mean they are exempt from anti discrimination laws such as equal rights for women or discrimination on grounds of sexual preference. This is not to say that many are not democratic. However, the aggregation of these two elements within the report, I believe demonstrates a narrow understanding of political and democratic processes.

      As I mentioned before, I believe the report was driven by technological determinism not one of engagement within the context of social democratic state. This I believe is clearly demonstrated in the consultation process. To only go to several capital cities and one regional city and rely on online web site is not a National consultation. It effectively excludes those furthest away from seats of power ie those in remote and regional Australia and those with least capacity to engage with ICT because of poor band width and costs.

      This project should have been an exemplar of how to engage in new ways with the citizen and demonstrate the possibilities. It was good to have mashup competition etc. However it relied on people who currently new what to do with data. This process I believe could have been enhanced by providing tools or sandbox to play with not just the raw data. It should have considered a much simpler web site well organised and clearly mapped out with plain english description on what it was and what it was hopping to achieve. It would have been good have some interactive public web broad cast so people from across country could have participated.

      While I welcome the direction of the reports and its sentiment I fear that a report that does not directly address some of the issues I have raised will be used to block access to information to the well informed few and not the population as a whole.

      • 2009 December 18

        Hi Andrew

        I agree with you on the importance of addressing systemic factors to ensure that all people can participate in this space. However, I think it is quite unrealistic to expect that the report itself should address all of these issues. It is more than sufficient to emphasise social inclusion.

        If the social inclusion agenda needs improving and beefing up then that is what should happen. I make this point because the technologies that are associated with Gov 2.0 are, by their very nature, democratising. That is why there is, within our quite traditional bureaucracies, cultural resistance and a degree of fear.

        The concerns and issues you raise are those that should be addressed as a part of implementation. This is, I suspect, one critical ‘proof of the pudding’ factor. That being said, we do have to recognise the interdependencies – e.g. Access to IT is something that may have to be addressed via public libraries and, for some groups, may be have to be augmented by more traditional approaches. Having worked with some of the most disadvantaged people in the country in my previous career I have to say it is what gets done that counts.

        Nicholas G – It might be worth considering whether the open declaration should contain some words in relation to social inclusion.

        Cheers – Steve D

        • 2009 December 18
          Andrew Clark permalink


          Thanks for your thoughts. I think your note to Nicolas is a good start.

          I would go a bit further and have the idea of social inclusion as a principle and or part of a preamble. For example ” The right of all citizen to see, use and interrogate data, information and knowledge gathered and utilised by government is one of the corner stones of a social Democratic State. To this end, the Government shall develop and implement a range of strategies and practises that enable all citizens to use and access government data, information and knowledge equability”.

          I would make one exception with your comments, ICT / technologies in of them selves are not necessarily democratising, its the use we put them to that makes them democratising. History is littered with governments filtering and censoring information flows to meet there own agendas.


  17. 2009 December 15

    The issues of access and equity (inclusion) are important, but as Jimi said, the process was open to anyone.

    I must admit I am a bit torn on this issue. On the one hand I think Andrew’s comment “Canberra and Tech Valley heavy” is worth taking note of – it is a risk worth given the tendency of the APS to be Canberra centric. Having spent around 15 years working in the Northern Territory Public Sector I can vouch for that tendency.

    On the other hand I see nothing in the report itself and the quality of the discussion to indicate that inclusion has somehow got lost. So in that sense, I agree with Stephen that the criticism is unfair.

    I do not think the UK can be held up as a glowing example given the constraints faced by the Champion for Digital Inclusion. If you haven’t already it is probably worth taking a look at programs funded via the EU Convergence Program. Check out Wales.

    All in all I think it is reasonable to address this issue via the Social Inclusion agenda. The draft report does point to this and, while there will always be discussion about whether the emphasis is sufficient, I think the key question is whether the draft report lays a comprehensive and solid foundation for implementing Gov 2.0. I for one am of the view that it does.

    Obviously it is important not to loose sight of the importance of inclusion, but that is something that should be assessed when planning and implementing. If you like, practical inclusion.

    Cheers – Steve D

  18. 2009 December 15

    Hi All

    I just want to add that one of the major strengths of the report are those associated with empowering public servants to have robust discussion on line. That is going to pose considerable cultural challenges and a shift in mindset of course.

    In a practical sense, it is also going to require some changes in how accessing social networking sites is handled by Agencies. Ideally, changes like this would be handled in consultation with employees.

    O n that score I want to share some live anecdotal evidence with you concerning what tends to happen at present.

  19. 2009 December 15

    A very thorough report. I am focused on Spatial data so my comments really apply to that aspect.

    We are awash with spatial data (mostly Govt based) in this country but just can’t seem to grasp how to publish it to the broader community despite the availability of the technology for quite a while now.

    The bottom line is that we need an infrastructure of remote, close to source and standards-based published geo-spatial resources (with or without good metadata) connected via the Internet. This will require real funding, real commitment and leadership.

    Are our collective Governments capable of delivering this before the developing countries leapfrog us?


  20. 2009 December 16

    A great piece of work and a credit to all involved.

    While there is much discussion of supporting public servants to try new techniques and technologies, my experience has shown that in the public service the offer to take a risk must be explicitly accompanied by a free pass if the project fails. This is a very hard concept to convince most managers of, leading to much empty rhetoric about ‘pushing the boundaries’.

    The report is correct in noting that this is by no means a technical challenge, but in fact a deep cultural issue that reaches into the highest levels of government. Brad’s comment above in some ways points to the urgency that this change in culture must assume – developing countries beat us to the punch as their public institutions rapidly morph to embrace these technologies and techniques, while our entrenched attitudes keep our feet firmly in the mud of cultural inertia. As an example of this, look at the way many developing nations bypassed land-line communications and headed directly to cheaper, easier to deploy mobile technology.

  21. 2009 December 17
    Nicholas G permalink

    Just taken my first look at the draft report. Nice work and a shame I didn’t look before the deadline as I feel you have mixed up a concept around Semantic Web in Box 11.

    You note AGLS and other metadata standards as being relevant to the Semantic Web. Well yes, and no. AGLS is a page based metadata scheme (contained in ) which is used to describe the creation of the page and generalist information relating to it from a functional or topic centric view.

    Semantic mark-up on the other hand is in-line tagging of items within the page of content mapped to a referenced scheme (Linked Data/ etc). AGLS does not provide this functionality.

    • 2009 December 18

      The Australian Agriculture and Natural Resources On-line site is a good example of this. If you look at the metadata on a resource described on a page like this, it isn’t actually particularly useful if you are looking for the resource referenced on the page:

      <-- this is the date of the page of course, but the report is actually dated 2002

      Incidentally, the copyright status of the material is also a little confusing.

      • 2009 December 18

        The metadata sample dropped off:
        meta name=”DC.Publisher” content=”AANRO”
        meta name=”DC.Coverage.jurisdiction” scheme=”AglsJuri” content=”AANRO Australian Agriculture and Natural Resources Online, by …, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia License”
        meta name=”DC.Date” content=”2009-07-27″
        meta name=”DC.Type” content=”text”
        meta name=”DC.Format” content=”html”

    • 2009 December 18
      Gordon Grace permalink

      Or you could attempt to both simultaneously, supporting multiple discovery, re-use and harvesting approaches. From

      (head – meta)

      meta name=”DCTERMS.Type” scheme=”AGLSTERMS.Document” content=”dataset”

      (body – RDFa – view source to inspect)
      Date Published
      …property=”dc:date.published” datatype=”xs:date”…2008-12…

      • 2009 December 21
        Nicholas G permalink

        @ Gordon, always good to see your quality work rising to the surface of government online.

        I liked the fact that the datasets on had RDFa references for discoverability but I don’t, as yet, see any real use of inline semantic tagging such as FOAF on or strategic deliveries such as WofG Open Calais licensing….

        …. then again the majority of government sites don’t comply with AGLS or xhtml/css/accessibility so maybe wishing for semantic tagging of content is a dream for another decade (says he noting one quickly appearing). Time for AGIMO to take an auditing role to get government webmasters moving in the right direction?

  22. 2010 April 10
    Flowers permalink

    I like the idea is fine for me thank you

    • 2010 April 10
      Madeleine Kingston permalink

      Hi Flowers

      I was so hoping that a sustained ballast of blogs by me recently as a newcomer would resurrect the early momentum that accompanied initial draft stages of Gov2’s worthy initiatives.

      There has been such a big gap in postings as I have noticed in my recent browsings.

      Please spread the word the Gov 2 is alive and kicking even though the Taskforce is not in visible action.

      However, Nicholas Gruen as Chair of the Taskforce made a fleeting appearance the other day to show that he does read the blogs and continues to take an interest.

      Be patient. These are very early days. I am hoping that something will come of renewed interest.

      From what I have been reading there are so many out there who would like to see a more citizen-driven democracy and improved public policy.

      Wherever you are, your posting was noticed and appreciated.



      New Individual Stakeholder

      • 2010 April 10

        Hi Madeleine,

        I think ‘Flowers’ contribution may be spam. (If not, this is a Turing test for Flowers).

        The reason there’s not much activity here is that the Taskforce has finished it’s official business and we’re waiting for the Government to announce it’s decisions. We haven’t closed off comments, and in fact there was some thought of keeping this blog more ‘live’ than it is, at least until the Government announced it’s own decisions. That hasn’t happened. If anyone is to blame it’s me most of all – I felt that it would be mostly me blogging and that it would look rather vainglorious to be continuing to do so on this platform. But none of us have gone away. A search engine would enable you to find me and other Taskforce members happily blogging away, in my case on many issues but certainly including Government 2.0.

        • 2010 April 10
          Madeleine Kingston permalink

          Hi Nicholas

          Thank you for taking the trouble to respond so personally and alert me to the possibility of the posting from “Flowers” representing spam.

          Online dialogue carries some risks for all participants, but this one at worst may have been no more than a tiny nuisance if the posting was not genuine. On the plus side my note of encouragement to “Flowers” as a real or imagined Gov2 blogger has given you a change to clarify things and to let us all know what is happening. Putting oneself out on the net for blogging or any other purpose carries a spam risk and as far as I can gather this situation is not easy to reverse.

          I was sorry to hear that the “Flowers’” posting may have been spam. This brief posting was emailed directly to me as I had asked for all comments to be directly notified.

          My reason for making a prompt response was to encourage blogs from those who may be a bit reticent to join in. Since the philosophy of Gov2 is to encourage participation at all levels by a wide cross-section of the community.

          When I viewed the calibre of initial responses it was easy to see the high standard set may perhaps intimidate others to “test the waters” with blogging. Therefore I have been very frank about my novice blogging status and limited technical skills, neither representing the barriers foreseen.

          Subject to motivation to connect, as observed by Stephen Collins’ 11 Sept 2009 blog in response to Lisa Harvey’s article What about the rest of us? (tags: community, engagement, ethics, public service), to which I have belatedly responded under “If I had a blank piece of paper” (/#comment-12945), the myth about barriers needs to be exploded.

          Most of those designing and maintaining innovative sustainable online communication platforms such as this appear to be primarily strategic planners and philosophers with a real interest in linguistics and communication forms as the hooks through which engagement can be achieved.

          You will notice that my three blogs (see #comments 12783; 12795; 12923) against Mia Garlick’s powerful graphic and wordless message in “The Faceless Bureaucrat” were responses to a graphic marketing communication tool that was arresting in its own right -words were superfluous.

          Whilst on the subject of communication, may I give credit to the marketing tools being utilized of late by the ACCC in their Update Newsletters. The last two editions have been lively, modern and written for a wide audience in simple informative language using colourful cartoons to illustrate the message. As an engagement strategy these tools are commendable.

          On the issue of keeping blogs alive at least till the Government has made its decisions – please accept this as a personal plea to do this.

          You should not be concerned about perceptions of “vainglory” if you continued to blog. I considered that very thing before I sent a series of blogs which I know may remain unanswered during this lull at least.

          However, I persisted since someone had to take the first step to resurrect dialogue whilst it was still an option.

          You will not be talking to yourself if you blog since I will look out for recent postings if highlighted in the sidebar and try to maintain the impetus to the best of my ability, even if only a brief blog to signal ongoing interest in the engagement concept.

          Please do keep lines of communication open since it is my view that out of sight is often out of mind in terms of public engagement whatever strong activity may be happening “behind the scenes”.

          Those of us who have stuck around in the hope of effective collaborative engagement need doses of encouragement to keep interest alive. Hope needs to be fed.



          Individual Stakeholder

  23. 2010 April 22
    Madeleine Kingston permalink

    Hi all

    I was directed to this site by an email posting that highlighted the comments of Hier Artikelverzeichnis.

    Unfortunately I have been unable to find Heir’s comments so cannot respond in detail but if someone can email me directly to point me in the right direction I will answer Heir in more detail.

    Meanwhile I am posting here, despite the fact that this may not be quite the right place as I followed directions and am here no.

    Recently I became involved in a blog experiment on a site unconnected with ov2. The comments made therefore are simply brought to Gov’s attention as it was a lesson learned that deserves to be shared.

    It is no secret that I am interested in supporting human rights initiatives and more inclusiveness in social policy.

    Gov 2 is one of many sites on which I make blog postings.

    My blog career is 21 days old, so I am no more than a novice with technical skills that need much enhancement.

    Ideas – that is a different matter.

    My style is verbose, detailed and sometimes annoying. Though I have previously worked in a verity of settings that could be loosely termed “quasi-government” I am not a public servant.

    I have considered writing a book on how to any the government” but feel there may be more constructive ways in which I can connect.

    Given the encouragement I have received, I will persist in making comments within the limits of my style and approach.

    Very recently I encountered a negative blogging experience that had no impact on my broad shoulders. Nevertheless the site on which I made three postings regarding the human rights of international students represented a negative blogging experience which I share here as a learning experience. It is connected with standards that are acceptable, consistent and sustainable in terms of the types of postings that will be tolerated.

    My stance on human rights is a matter of record. My direct grassroots voluntary experience in supporting human rights principles is tractable, though much of what I do is not visible.

    I took a recent stance on this publicly on a blog site discovered accidently. I had no problem with disagreement and challenge to my views – that is exactly what I expect to encounter.

    In fact my preference is for a direct “call a spade a spade approach”

    However, I draw a line at discourtesy, unacceptable derogatory remarks and gratuitous insult.

    The site that I posted on deteriorated into a mud-slinging match associated with dialogue more suited to a private exchange than a public blogging site seeking comment on social policy issues.

    I withdrew my involvement as a protest not over disagreement with my opi9nion, which I have no problem with, but because the dialogue had deteriorated into something demoralizing and acceptable.

    Ultimately the site owner took a stance and posted a comments policy. It will be interesting to see whether this has any impact on blogging conduct of personal followers of the site owner.

    Meanwhile there are some lessons to be learned.

    There needs to be a clear policy about acceptable blogging behaviour.

    There needs to be a clear written accessible policy about moderation.

    Moderation that is indiscriminate because someone does not “belong” to the social set or mind-set of others is unacceptable.

    Unless one is discourteous, derogatory or engages in others identifiable unacceptable behaviour, in my book a more inclusive liberal moderation policy is preferable.

    But this needs to be clearly stated not only for the benefit of intra-government or quasi-government benefit, but for the benefit of other components of your target audience, including ordinary citizens such as myself wishing to effectively engage with government.

    Digital communication highlights certain moral challenging. The environment needs to feel and be safe. The bar for standards needs to be set high. This does not mean a narrow, forgive me “constipated” view of moderation policies or openness. Far from it.

    However my recent experience as someone well able to defend herself have highlight certain issues.

    Those who are more tentative, less confident; more vulnerable, wishing nonetheless to engage with government, or indeed with any other social media outlet, but feel confident that there will be no derogatory remarks, no social exclusion, no negative experience that will bring into poor repute the interactive dialogue.

    If it is Government’s genuine desire to effect engagement with its constituents, the experience must be and be seen to be a positive one.

    Abusive language, derogatory and discriminatory remarks about segments of the community, regardless of personal opinion or belief is totally unacceptable. AQ clear and unambiguous stance must be taken on this issue.

    The policy stance should not be restricted to Government, but to every single web owner or host leaving digital communication open for community participation.

    On the other side of the coin, this is not merely a vehicle for purely social exchange on gardening tips and recipes or the latest in nappy-wear.

    The purpose of such a dialogue here is to engage the community, seek ideas and feedback and to operate at such a level as to embed and incorporate lessons learned and valuable information that may be provided from a variety of sources.

    I did not have some reasonable hope that the precepts behind Web2 and Gov2 went beyond superficial shop-front skin-deep dialogue I would have long been gone.

    I cannot be bothered with the trivial. This does not mean that I do not enjoy light chatter, humour and fun.

    It means that of this site I expect a serious dialogue with the community to the extent that there is an indisputable desire to develop strategies through which improved policy, regulatory governance and leadership responses can be developed.

    In developing a communication strategy that is directed by an underlying desire to improve governance leadership and policy, Gov 2 needs to keep all eyes and ears to the ground in finding out exactly what community expectations are and how they can be effectively met.

    This means building forming a collaborative partnership from which all groups learn and develop together.

    It requires an atmosphere of mutual respect, courtesy without sacrificing frankness, and a willingness to form unexpected partnerships through which information exchange can be an effective learning lesson.

    It takes time and effort to engage in this type of dialogue

    Therefore, returning to moderating policies, and assuming that Government as a genuine desire to find out what may be going wrong at ah early enough stage to discover and implement counter-acting strategies on a stitch-in-time basis, I urge a very open mind to policies and seek a communication climate where frank and timely identification of problems are encouraged.

    The second I gain an impression that this whole enterprise is a shop-front not committed to improving governance, leadership and flawed policy – I will have to count myself out.

    In short, I am a supporter – but my support is conditional on my expectations being met. Why should I settle for anything else?

    Hope this is constructive.

    It was meant to be a coffee break blog, but I must get back to the non-cyber world of deadlines, deadlines, deadlines.

    Lift the bar all round or resign. No point in half-baked measures.



    Individual Stakeholder

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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