Government 2.0 Taskforce » Ideas Design by Ben Crothers of Catch Media Tue, 04 May 2010 23:55:29 +0000 en hourly 1 Not for Profit PSI Contest Announcement Sun, 20 Dec 2009 23:25:27 +0000 Lisa Harvey It was very pleasing to see the number of proposals that were submitted for our not-for-profit contest.  It shows that there is not only strong demand for public sector information in this important sector of the Australian economy, but also great potential for them to contribute to public policy development and Government service delivery if we can just make it easier for them to access relevant PSI.

There were some really good ideas put forward that showed creativity and had a clear sense of purpose. Some of the better ideas that caught the eye of the Taskforce were:

  • Yearn to learn (from psinclair) – An online register of skills shortages and how to obtain skills in high demand;
  • Surf Life Saving NSW – Rescue Package (from kstorey) – Data to improve the recruiting and deployment of lifesavers;
  • Status of Women (from diann) /Index of Women’s Health and Well-being (from rose.durey) – two similar proposals for a website providing a comprehensive of index of women’s health issues and data
  • Data on Disabled Drivers and Permits (from wpeacock658) – Aggregated data on disabled drivers, vehicle modifications and parking/access schemes to assist local planning and national road policies.

Of course not everyone fully grasped the concept we were trying to get across, but that is all part of the process of crowdsourcing innovation. Nonetheless, even those who were wide of the mark put forward some interesting ideas for aggregating data and providing services that policy makers should be paying more attention to. Of particular interest was the number of proposals for directories. Unfortunately this type of project is notoriously difficult to maintain and to achieve ongoing funding for, so these ideas couldn’t be taken any further by the Taskforce.

But the idea that we chose as the winner of this contest was “Indicators of social inclusion in local geographic areas for planning an evaluating community services” from hmcguire, which proposed that data should be published on key social indicators based on local geographic areas so it can be made available to community organisations, policy makers, and government funding bodies.

Social data is an incredible rich and complex resource and the community sector could benefit from access to it in many ways. At the moment this data is spread over many agencies. The idea presented seems to me to be an aggregator of data. This approach has several potential benefits for the community sector – it can reduce the time required to find the data needed, and the duplication of many organisations doing the work of finding the same pieces of data; it can create a place for educating the sector in the use of data (this is very important); and last but not least, access to good data in the community sector will result in better decision making and better placement of limited funding and better outcomes for the disadvantaged. While I know this raises the Cathedral/bazaar argument again, this is not so much about data brokering, but more about capacity building.

Congratulations to hmcguire for putting forward a very topical and useful proposal – the charity/not-for-profit of your choice will receive a cash donation of $5,000 courtesy of the Taskforce, and you will also be contacted by Connecting Up Australia who have been commissioned by the Taskforce to provide consulting services to assist you with progressing your idea.

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Structured Brainstorming Competition: Congratulations to all our winners! Thu, 19 Nov 2009 02:01:25 +0000 Peter Alexander [Taskforce Secretariat] The Structured Brainstorming competition we ran through our IdeaScale page was a great experiment in reaching out to the crowd and seeing what ideas they (you!) had to contribute to the work of the Taskforce.  There were some intriguing ideas put forward, including suggestions for new Government projects and services that have provided us with some food for thought. Today I’m happy to announce the winners of the first two prize categories on offer (with the Not for Profit PSI and Web 2.0 Accessibility Makeover category winners on track to be announced in early December).

To refresh your memory, the first round of the contest had two categories with prizes attached. The Brainstorming category was aimed at project ideas that the Taskforce could fund in line with its terms of reference. Meanwhile, in the Gov 2.0 Innovators category we were looking for nominations for agencies, projects or individuals who have done valuable work and have been champions for the Gov 2.0 cause. When judging both of these categories the Taskforce took into account both your voting and the quality of the ideas themselves.

And the winners are…

Brainstorming Category

There were two winning ideas in this category, both nominated by Brad Peterson.  They were:

The Taskforce would like to congratulate Brad for these ideas. They are great examples of practical initiatives which could help the Australian Government improve its online presence and help Australia in the move towards open government.

And Brad, if you’re reading this, we’ve tried to get in touch with you but haven’t been able to…please send us an email from the account you used to submit the ideas so we can get you your prizes!

Gov 2.0 Innovators

This was an interesting one. After giving it some consideration, the Taskforce couldn’t narrow it down to just one winner. So instead we have three, spread across different categories:

In the view of the Taskforce, ABC Pool is a great example of a publicly-funded agency using Web 2.0 tools to revolutionise the way it does business. Mosman Municipal Council deserves recognition for its impressive Community Engagement Strategy, which involves using a range of online tools and techniques to reach out to the local community and involve them in the business of government. In the individual category, Craig Thomler is notable for his tireless and enthusiastic commentary and involvement in the Gov 2 space in Australia, through his blog eGov AU and other channels.

Thanks to j2.coates for submitting the ABC Pool and Mosman City Council nominations, and Nathanael Boehm for nominating Craig Thomler. We’ll be getting in touch with the winners soon to talk about awarding their prizes, as discussed in the original Gov 2 Innovators blog post.

As well as congratulating our winners in both categories, the Taskforce would like to thank everyone who submitted an idea, or commented or voted on ideas. Government 2.0 is all about the interaction between people and their government, and from our point of view the engagement and enthusiasm of the online community has been an inspiration to the Taskforce as it goes about its work.

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Lots of Gov 2.0 learning still to do… Thu, 08 Oct 2009 22:31:40 +0000 Anna York Anna York is a second year Masters in Public Policy candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School, where she is co-Chair of the Government 2.0 Professional Interest Council and Executive Editor of the Kennedy School Review. Before enrolling in her Masters, Anna worked in the NSW Government, and she is looking forward to returning to Sydney after her graduation in May 2010.

As a Masters student at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, I have been very surprised at the relatively limited discussion about the principles, challenges and opportunities of Government 2.0 on my campus.

It seems that for many of my classmates and faculty, the idea that technology might revolutionise the way government works is a strange and distant concept. Or perhaps the underlying principles often touted as the foundation of Government 2.0 – openness, transparency, democracy, and engagement – are a little threatening to students being trained in traditional forms of bureaucratic management.

In an effort to broaden the discussion about Gov 2.0 and expose more faculty and students to these ideas, my classmate Yasmin Fodil and I have started the Government 2.0 Professional Interest Council at the Harvard Kennedy School. We have been working over the last few months to invite Gov 2.0 experts and practitioners to campus, facilitate debate and discussion and help students develop the skills they will need to be able public servants in the context of a growing innovation culture in government.

As more citizens seek their news, information and access to government services online, it will be increasingly important for public service leaders of the future to be well equipped to respond to – and take full advantage of – the challenges and opportunities new technologies present.

Indeed, I recently had the opportunity to meet the former Australian Public Service Commissioner (and now head of Medicare) Lynelle Briggs, who articulated this view forcefully in a speech about the future of the Australian Public Service:

The modern day world is requiring some new styles of leadership to be blended with those that have often been the norm in the public service. Leaders will have to become more innovative, actively seeking, encouraging and leveraging ideas from all quarters.

I hope these are issues that the Government 2.0 Taskforce can address. If Harvard is any measure, these are questions US educational institutions are just starting to grapple with.

Don’t get me wrong – I am not a technology evangelist who believes that social networking tools and multi-purpose databases are a panacea for every ill experienced or perpetuated by each one of the world’s governments.

But I do agree with the US General Service Administration’s Darlene Meskell’s argument (PDF):

The arrival of the Internet created new opportunities for citizen engagement through its powerful ability to organize. Online town meetings, social media, chat rooms, bulletin boards, deliberative processes for e-rulemaking, and feedback mechanisms for soliciting citizen input. All of these tools have a positive impact on public policy development because when people get involved everyone learns from each other, relationships are built, trust is established and the final outcome is improved.

I also believe that as new technologies are developed that can help make government services and administration more efficient and less costly, there will continue to be large scale investment in these new tools. We might as well get on board and exert influence to ensure these investments support enhanced democracy and improved citizen engagement – in addition to the eternal promise of cost savings and efficiency.

In the meantime, there is much that countries who are starting to take the less travelled Government 2.0 road can learn from each other.

As part of our Masters requirements, my classmate Yasmin and I are working with the US Federal Communications Commission to support their research and recommendations regarding how the national roll-out of broadband infrastructure can support improved civic engagement.

Many of the questions being raised by the Australian Government 2.0 Taskforce are simultaneously being considered by the FCC’s National Broadband Taskforce. In particular, we will be looking to international examples of national level governments have successfully deploying social media tools to enhance citizen engagement and participation. (If you have any interesting leads along these lines, please don’t hesitate to contact me!) I also hope that our work might be of use to the Australian Taskforce as it develops its final report.

While there are countless exciting prospects and many daunting challenges ahead as we work to improve the quality of our governments and strength of our democracies through the deployment of Government 2.0 principles, there are also opportunities to collaborate in learning across boundaries, borders and jurisdictions.

It is also important that we properly equip our public service leaders of the future with the skills and experiences they will need to harness the potential of true innovation and engagement in government.

Now that our Gov 2.0 group is up and running at the Kennedy School, we would love to make contact with other faculty, student and university groups in Australia and around the world working on these issues.

Do you know of tertiary institutions – courses, clubs, curricula – that are dealing with Gov 2.0 issues? Are there other opportunities for research students, faculty and government to work together on shaping the future of government? Do you agree that future leaders in public service will need different skill sets – and if so, what are the educational models we can look at to prepare them? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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2020 Summit : What might have been Fri, 02 Oct 2009 03:00:23 +0000 Lisa Harvey At the time of the 2020 Summit last year I blogged a lot . It was an unprecedented gathering of thought and optimism and a demonstration of how a grand idea can become a reality, and also a demonstration of how momentum can be lost in the process.

Getting 1000 people to collaborate on ideas for 2 days was a risk. It was well choreographed and the outputs were sanitised for the media. The risks were managed efficiently. But in spite of that it was an enormous outpouring of public voice. The exchange between delegates, the volume of submissions, the satellite events leading up and the online discussion that took place beforehand, all left a deep impression on me and many others.

In many ways it was a Gov2.0 experiment. Crowdsourcing ideas, open discussion, engagement between government and people. It’s flaws were that it was Gov2.0 without exploiting technology and without continuing the discussion.

Before the event we were given access to an online discussion forum. It was a place where stream leaders (if they were interested) posted ideas and started discussions. Some were better than others at this. Some discussion was lively. Many connections were made. But the site was difficult to navigate, late in starting, accessed by few and there were controls over the interaction – for example, we could not interact with members of other streams, which was frustratingly limiting. The most important failing was that the forum was shut down only days after the event. There was plenty of momentum at the time, but nowhere to direct it.

If the 2020 Summit were held today many things would be different and there would be much less tolerance of a lack of online engagement. Before during and after the event Twitter, live blogging and other tools that take events beyond the boundaries of walls, would play a much greater role. Collaboration online for submissions and brainstorming ideas, capturing the conversation in different places, sharing and discussion by a much wider audience would create a stronger interaction between participants and populous, making the whole thing more democratic. A kind of uncontrolled, spontaneous online discussion of it all would occur, which is how it should be.

For me the conversation was the strength of the process, all the conversations. I was happy to have them online and offline with whoever was around to participate.

There was a great deal of focus on the event itself, and the physical gathering of people together was intensely powerful. It created a momentum that simply fizzled out as the transcripts, the notes, the submissions and the discussions were whisked away into the rules and structures of the public service to be processed and analysed.

Eventually a report was released, long after most people had lost interest. It was a bit of an anti-climax really. It was great experiment in open government but not followed with the transparency and accountability that is necessary in true open government.

So I’d say to the Prime Minister, thank you for giving us a voice, for crowdsourcing ideas, for creating an environment of collaboration and innovation. Please do it again, but next time let’s talk for longer, before and after with more people, let the collaboration continue much further into the process with wider participation and use technology to seed conversations everywhere. Let’s turn this first step in participatory democracy into a movement. Let it evolve naturally into something uniquely Australian. Embrace the risk, and see what happens.

Led from the top it could create profound change in the way government engages with the community, and the way the community engages with government.

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Suggest a dataset – IdeaScale competition part three Tue, 08 Sep 2009 00:45:00 +0000 Peter Alexander [Taskforce Secretariat] It’s been interesting to watch the activity on the Taskforce’s IdeaScale page. There’s been some great ideas put forward and some productive discussion going on — keep it up! Today we open the third (and last one for now) category in our structured brainstorming:  Datasets.

We are seeking your suggestions for datasets to be made available under the open access to public sector information principle (such as the Australian Toilet Map). These datasets will form the basis for our upcoming mashup competition.

Feel free to nominate a dataset from any level of government – state/territory, local or federal.  Some suggestions might include:

  • Traffic data
  • Crime statistics
  • Postcode boundaries
  • Passport office locations
  • Pollution reports

Stuck for ideas?  Not sure if your desired dataset exists? You may want to browse some government sites to discover what data is already stored and published online by government:

Note that we are not seeking mashups just yet, only ideas for datasets to be made available.

While we can not guarantee to make all nominated datasets available, if a popular dataset cannot be released, we will tell you the reason why wherever possible.

Category Prize

No prizes will be awarded in this category, although we may include the best suggested datasets in the final report of the Taskforce. And we’re hoping your suggestions give us some ideas about how to make our upcoming mashup competition even better. But please note that the competition closing date of 5PM September 20 still applies to the Datasets category. The reason for this is that we’re going to need some time to actually look into your suggested datasets…

Also note that as before all submissions will be subject to the IdeaScale Terms and Conditions, which also has instructions about how to create an account for our IdeaScale page.

Visit Government 2.0 Taskforce Ideas – Datasets

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Nominate a Government 2.0 Innovator Mon, 07 Sep 2009 05:37:52 +0000 Peter Alexander [Taskforce Secretariat] We have had a great response to our first category of structured brainstorming.

Today, a new category on our IdeaScale page has opened up: Government 2.0 Innovators.

Despite existing constraints, various government agencies are trying and succeeding at innovative uses of technology, including Web 2.0, and promoting greater openness.

We are seeking examples of excellence in Gov 2.0 that have been implemented over the past 18 months or are being implemented now. We want to recognise  agencies and public servants at all levels of government in Australia who are Gov 2.0 champions.

Your nomination may be:

  • An agency or department;
  • A specific project; or
  • An individual

You will need to give us your reason(s) for your nomination and specifically tell us why it is a great example of Gov 2.0 innovation. Where possible, we’d encourage you to provide a URL to an example of your nominee’s work.

We will also be writing out to agencies to ensure that they have maximum opportunity to get involved.

Category Prize

The Taskforce will select the best examples of Gov 2.0 in agencies and the best Gov 2.0 champions and recognise them with certificates signed by Minister Tanner and Minister Ludwig and presentation and formal recognition at an awards ceremony.

But that is not all we will also select the very best of both categories and invite them to attend the eGovernment Forum next year and eGovernment awards dinner (on us of course). We will even hope to get them to present on their Gov 2.0 innovation.

Entries for the competition are due by 5pm September 20, although after that we’ll leave the IdeaScale page open and running for continued discussion and participation.

Note that all submissions will be subject to the IdeaScale Competition Terms and Conditions.

You should also know that we’re making one slight change to the way we’re running our IdeaScale page. Originally we wanted to allow people to participate without having to create an IdeaScale account. What this meant is that ideas and comments appeared without any sign of who wrote them. But now that we’ve seen the page in action, and seen some of the conversation and collaboration going on, we think it would work better if you could see whose ideas you’re looking at and who you’re actually talking to.

So we’re changing the page’s settings so that it displays usernames. But what this means is that from now on you’ll need to make an IdeaScale account to enter the competition. The terms and conditions have instructions on how to do this. If you’ve already submitted an idea or comment and aren’t happy about your IdeaScale username being displayed online, let us know and we’ll delete it from the page. Or if you’re worried about sharing the first part of your email address online (everything before the “@”) thorugh an IdeaScale account, we’d recommend that you set up a new pseudonymous email account. We won’t hold it against you when it comes time to give out the prizes!

Visit Government 2.0 Taskforce Ideas – Government 2.0 Innovator

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Structured brainstorming – suggest ideas and projects for the Taskforce Fri, 04 Sep 2009 09:15:40 +0000 Peter Alexander [Taskforce Secretariat] To some, the title of this post will sound like an oxymoron. Traditionally, offline brainstorming normally occurs in a conference room, with lots of butcher’s paper, whiteboard markers, sticky notes and a degree of chaos. The problem with this approach, however, is that it does not scale.

For those who have attempted to collate hundreds, even thousands of responses to consultations, making sense of these submissions can be expensive and time-consuming, with little transparency of the methods involved.

Fortunately, technology has come to our aid.

Ever since our first post, we’ve been receiving feedback about additional tools that we could use to receive your ideas and suggestions. From today, as Mia Garlick told you was coming, we’ll start using our very own IdeaScale page to capture those ideas and allow others to vote them up and down.

And if you are thinking why are they adding something else to the mix – isn’t this confusing – we hope not – and we are meeting one of our aims which is to try things out and see how they roll.

If you want to enter the competition you will need to give us a valid email address by setting up an IdeaScale account. You can do this by following the instructions below from the terms and conditions:

To create an IdeaScale account, click on the “New Idea” button on the IdeaScale page, then enter your preferred email address and choose the “No, I am a new user” option. You will then be prompted to enter a password of your choice. After doing so and clicking on “Sign Up”, your account will be created.

Your username will be publicly displayed on IdeaScale as the first part of the email address used to create the account (everything before the “@” symbol). The second part of your email address (everything after the “@” symbol) will not be publicly visible, and we will not share it with anyone. Using a pseudonymous email account will not affect the judging of your entry to the competition.

Our first category of ideas will be suitably open-ended…


Reading through the submissions to the issues paper, we’ve observed some fascinating, and occasionally recurring, proposals for Government 2.0 projects. Now that submissions have closed, we’d like to hear what you think of others’ project ideas.

Alternatively, if you weren’t able to make a detailed submission to the response, you may want to propose a new project idea (one or two sentences is often enough), or vote others’ project ideas up or down.

When adding a new idea to the “brainstorming” category, we’d encourage you to consider answering the question:

“How can the Government 2.0 Taskforce best meet its Terms of Reference?”

Category Prize

The Taskforce will select the best brainstorming ideas and award cash prizes of $1000. The best ideas may even become projects that the Taskforce will pursue and if we do we may give the person who made the idea first chance to undertake the project.

Entries for the competition are due by 5pm September 20, although after that we’ll leave the IdeaScale page open and running for continued discussion and participation.

Note that all submissions will be subject to the IdeaScale Competition Terms and Conditions.

Visit Government 2.0 Taskforce Ideas – Brainstorming

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