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 agimo.govspace.gov.au.

Innovation and Government 2.0

2009 December 20

Government 2.0 is integral to delivering on several agendas that the Government has running at present.  It’s central to delivering on Innovation in Government – and that’s the subject of a review which with I have been involved being conducted within the Department of Innovation under the auspices of the Management Advisory Committee which is a forum of Agency Heads established under the Public Service Act to advise Government managing the Australian Public Service.

As part of our own exercise I asked the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) to have a look at the data it compiled for its State of the Service Report this year.  It has only come out in the last few weeks, so there was no time for them to do the analysis and for us to get it into our draft report.  In fact we’ve not included this in our final report for reasons I’ll explain.  But it’s interesting and deserves to be on the record.

The APSC were somewhat anxious about cross tabulating the two surveys because cross tabulation gives much looser correlations. To understand why, consider that social media is likely to be being used in just some parts of the public service.  My guess is that, of the 26 agencies that reported using social media, most used it in only small pockets within their operations – for instance their marketing and/or communications units would be candidates for using it. So many, perhaps most, perhaps almost all employees working in some of these agencies might well have no access to them, may not even know about them, and yet come up in the survey as employees with access to social media. We’ve spoken to the APSC about bringing social media issues into their employee survey which we hope they will do.

Another concern I have is that the question asked tends to emphasise social media platforms rather than the interactivity of use. The question in the survey of agencies was this:

“Does your agency officially use any of the following social media and networking tools in engaging with external stakeholders? (Multiple Response). Then there was this list of possibilities

  • Facebook
  • My Space (sic)
  • You Tube (sic)
  • Twitter
  • Other

Now these are definitely Web 2.0 tools, but, (and this isn’t a criticism of the APSC as they were just dipping their toe in the water here) they don’t demonstrate to me Web 2.0.  All are often used as Web 1.0 broadcast tools. So a Department’s using the capabilities of any of these tools to broadcast isn’t of much interest to us.  I’d be more interested to know if the agency or any of its staff maintained a blog which had professional content about matters that were within the purview of the agency. That would signal something more interactive going on (although even here, one really needs to look closely to see whether there’s real interaction going on and judge it’s quality).

Anyway, given my reservations I expected the data might not be much use, but thought it was worth seeing what the numbers suggested, however tentatively.

I asked them how the agency answers correlated with perceptions in answers to the employee survey around four issues.

  1. The quality of management
  2. The culture of innovation within agencies
  3. The culture of collaboration with other agencies
  4. Engagement with outsiders.

In short the answers came back as follows.

  1. The quality of management (no result)
  2. The culture of innovation within agencies (strongest result of positive correlation – see table below)
  3. The culture of collaboration with other agencies and/or outsiders (no result)
  4. Job Satisfaction (a negative correlation see table below)

So the results were probably pretty unreliable in any case, but confirmed my priors in one case and were inconsistent with them in the other. Here are the two relevant tables.

Does your agency use Facebook, MySpace, YouTube or Twitter (social networking) in engaging with external stakeholders * q18g. My current agency encourages innovation and the development of new ideas. Crosstabulation

 

 

q18g. My current agency encourages innovation and the development of new ideas.

Total

Agree

Neither Agree nor Disagree

Disagree

Not Sure

Does your agency use Facebook, MySpace, YouTube or Twitter (social networking) in engaging with external stakeholders No social networking

48.9%

32.4%

17.7%

1.0%

100.0%

Social networking

58.5%

24.0%

16.6%

.9%

100.0%

Total

51.7%

30.0%

17.4%

1.0%

100.0%

Does your agency use Facebook, MySpace, YouTube or Twitter (social networking) in engaging with external stakeholders * q17a. I enjoy the work in my current job. Crosstabulation

 

 

q17a. I enjoy the work in my current job.

Total

Agree

Neither Agree nor Disagree

Disagree

Not Sure

Does your agency use Facebook, MySpace, YouTube or Twitter (social networking) in engaging with external stakeholders No social networking

82.3%

11.0%

6.6%

.1%

100.0%

Social networking

75.5%

13.8%

10.4%

.2%

100.0%

Total

80.3%

11.9%

7.7%

.1%

100.0%

The latter negative correlation surprised me, and I don’t believe it.  I asked the APSC to do some digging around to find out whether the answers were different in different sized agencies which it seemed to me might be driving the results. Sure enough the closer you looked at the results the less sure you were that there was anything much going on at all, other than the random differences between agencies.  I didn’t do the same with the earlier (positive) correlation as we’d tested the patience of the APSC enough and they were flat out.  In any event, it will be interesting to see the results next year when, with any luck the APSC will include some social networking questions in their employee survey. I’m also hoping some questions will be slanted towards seeking out how much online interaction there is, and not just whether certain platforms that can be used for online interaction are being used.

3 Responses
  1. 2009 December 21

    Nicholas, I think your observation on the technology being used for broadcasting is most telling. My personal view is that this is a significant cultural marker. Have posted comments with a little more detail on OZloop.

    It might sound trite, but I think all these results really tell us is that specific research is needed in the use of these technologies within Agencies.

  2. 2009 December 27
    Martin Stewart-Weeks permalink

    All of which confirms the view that it’s not so much what Govt 2.0 is (definitions, tools, platforms etc) but rather what it does that matters (changes the way people behave, changes the way we make policy, changes the way we design programs and services etc). The APSC stuff is a territic, but very embryonic, contribution to the next phase of the discussion, which has to look closely at the way in which the instincts and tools of web2 start to cause change.

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