Government 2.0 Taskforce » Web 2.0 Design by Ben Crothers of Catch Media Tue, 04 May 2010 23:55:29 +0000 en hourly 1 Response to the Government 2.0 Report Mon, 03 May 2010 03:38:16 +0000 Lindsay Tanner In June last year, this site was launched with a video from Dr Nicholas Gruen and myself announcing the creation of the Government 2.0 Taskforce. Today I am pleased to be able to close this first phase of the Australian Government’s foray into the area of Web 2.0 by releasing the Rudd Government’s response to the Taskforce’s report.

The Taskforce – of which Dr Gruen was chair – was appointed by Senator Joe Ludwig and I to advise the Government on how we could use Web 2.0 technologies to deliver better services to, and facilitate greater engagement with, Australians.

Those of you who have followed and contributed to this blog closely will be well aware of the work the Taskforce undertook: consulting online and in person; considering submissions from individuals and organisations; and eventually delivering a thorough and informative report. For this, I would once again like to thank Dr Gruen, the Taskforce members and all those who contributed for their efforts.

The Taskforce’s report recommended changes to a range of areas, including co-ordinated leadership, guidance, support and recognition for agencies and public servants engaging online, and the important considerations of accessibility and security.

The Government’s response to this report, which Senator Ludwig and I released today, shows twelve of the report’s 13 recommendations were generally agreed to. We have deferred our response to one recommendation about tax deductibility for information philanthropy until it can be considered in the context of the review of Australia’s Future Tax System and the research report on the Contribution of the Not-for-Profit Sector.

The Taskforce’s central recommendation was that the Australian Government make a declaration of open government. The Rudd Government has accepted that recommendation and we expect to make such a declaration in the coming months.

Whilst today is the completion of one phase, it is also very much the beginning of a new one. The task now is to implement these changes, beginning with assisting agencies to make the most of the opportunities offered by Web 2.0.

My department, the Department of Finance and Deregulation has begun doing this via its new blog which has been launched today.  The team within the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) within my department will use this blog to continue the online conversation with you, our citizens and our stakeholders.

This new blog represents another step towards more participatory and open government. I will be closely monitoring the progress of this agenda across the Government and expect my department and its people to be engaged drivers of this agenda. I hope you will continue making contributions via this blog. We look forward to hearing more of your ideas and views.

There is no doubt the internet and collaborative technologies offer significant scope for the Government to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery, public administration and community engagement. I look forward to realising those improvements through our Gov 2.0 agenda.

]]> 0
From draft to final report Sun, 20 Dec 2009 06:43:01 +0000 Nicholas Gruen Well we put the finishing touches to the final report on Friday and it’s been working its way through the proofing and designing stage.

We will be ready to provide the finished report to Ministers Tanner and Ludwig on Tuesday, 22 December 2009.

We have tightened the structure as described below. This makes the argument flow better and reduces repetition. We’ve got quite a bit more content in using about the same number of pages. We propose three pillars – a trinity if you’re feeling at all theological at this time of year which are the foundations of getting to Government 2.0:

1. Leadership,

2. Engagement and

3. Open access to public sector information.

Here’s the final report structure:

Executive Summary

The co-existence of an executive summary and a prologue was always a bit odd and so there’s a new executive summary.  It includes some material from the prologue (other prologue material has mainly disappeared. It’s a short and snappy seven pages. I vacillate between thinking it needs to spell out our argument more and making it short and assertive. They like the latter more in public service land, so that’s how it is.


The old executive summary was the recommendations summarised reported against the terms of the terms of reference. The new structure allows us the more usual course which is to provide a complete list of recommendations after the executive summary.  There’s a concordance of terms of the terms of reference and recommendations in the appendices.

There are a few small changes of drafting to improve expression, strengthen meaning, or respond to points from comments and submissions on the draft report.

1 What is Government 2.0?

This chapter is a little more focussed than it was in the draft report.

2 How Does Australia Compare Internationally?

More comprehensive chapter than draft report version and includes the chapter in the draft report “The Australian policy context”.

3 The Foundations of Government 2.0

This is a new chapter which summarises those arguments about the challenges of introducing Government 2.0 which were scattered mainly in chapters 6 and 7 in the old draft – though there are a few that were also in the corresponding earlier chapters 3 and 4.

4 Promoting Online Engagement

Bringing together and condensing the factual material in chapters 3 and 7 in the draft.

5 Managing Public Sector Information (PSI) as a National Resource

Bringing together and condensing the factual material in chapters 4 and 8 in the draft.

6 Open Government Enablers

Previous chapter 9: accessibility, security, privacy and confidentiality; information / records management; info-philanthropy; and.

7 Innovation and the Taskforce Experience

This new chapter explores our own attempts to model Government 2.0, and tries to offer a candid assessment of our successes and failures.

]]> 5
Innovation and Government 2.0 Sat, 19 Dec 2009 14:28:22 +0000 Nicholas Gruen 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.



Neither Agree nor Disagree


Not Sure

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






Social networking












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.



Neither Agree nor Disagree


Not Sure

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






Social networking












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
The column of the draft report Wed, 09 Dec 2009 05:35:51 +0000 Nicholas Gruen Here’s yesterday’s column in the Financial Review coinciding with the release of our Draft Report. The Fin’s headline was “Web and open government a way to a better world” I couldn’t have put it better myself.

The expression Web 2.0 connotes the internet as a platform for collaboration of all kinds. It also connotes openness. Open standards permit interoperability allowing people to build on each others’ work. This makes the net the world’s first truly serendipitous network. It regularly bombards us with wonderful surprises – like blogs, Wikpedia, Flikr and Facebook. The potential of Web 2.0 to transform the ‘open government’ agenda – now itself identified by the term ‘Government 2.0’ – has been evident for some time. Obama made open government a centrepiece of his administration.

Australian government agencies have produced some wonderful Government 2.0 initiatives. But in the draft report we’ve just released, the Government 2.0 Taskforce found that Australia had yet to give the Government 2.0 co-ordinated, whole of government attention as the US, UK and New Zealand governments have done. And public agencies continue to act like owners rather than custodians of public data and information. Thus, although the Australian Government went to great lengths to get the word out about its last Budget, its inside asserts that “no part may be reproduced by any process without prior written permission”.

On Web 2.0 or collaborative web, search engines ensure people collaborate – even if they don’t’ know it – by harvesting the knowledge embedded in internet links and the preferences embodied in users’ choices about what they link to from search results to build ever more relevant search results. And collaborative web is serendipitous web, connecting people in improbable ways, enabling highly specific, local and ephemeral knowledge to be discovered and tapped.

US Federal Reserve research recently quoted ‘Tanta’ on the sub-prime mortgage market. Who was Tanta? She was a literature lecturer who’d recently worked in the mortgage market, meticulously – and hilariously – anatomising the practices of her industry on the blog Calculated Risk. And the Fed knew of her because she’d quickly become a must read for economist bloggers – Nobel Prize winning and otherwise – trying to nut out what was happening.

Web 2.0 platforms like Google Calendar, Microsoft Earth and Swivel also provide incredible new tools for ‘mashups’ in which data from multiple sources is combined on some ‘platform’ for doing so – like a map. Mashups add value to data. They can make practical tasks more convenient – for instance when I mash my own online calendar up with my wife’s. Sometimes mashups seem frivolous – as the collaborative map of magpie swoop hotspots was to me – until a cyclist friend pointed out its contribution to bicycle road safety. And important policy insights are emerging from mashups mapping the co-location of social pathologies like crime and poverty.

Government 2.0 embraces all these possibilities within government. In digitising its collection of historic newspapers back to 1802 our National Library ‘crowdsources’ the correction of errors that computer digitization has made. Since its launch in 2007 the site has corrected over seven million lines of text and has worked round the clock – literally never been idle. Nearly a quarter of volunteers log on from offshore. Between them they’ve corrected over seven million lines of text. Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum released historic photos on Flikr (a world first) eliciting a wealth of contextual information and complementary photos from those familiar with the relevant subject of the photos. The National Archives does likewise on its site commemorating World War One diggers.

Out Taskforce ran competitions bringing volunteers together to build mashups of data that we’d persuaded government agencies to open up. Why did the volunteers come? To build a better world; to give themselves a chance of winning (modest) prizes; to meet others and to have fun. (The members of the winning team at our GovHack weekend got on so well that each discovered just before the presentations that the other members of their team weren’t already good friends!). Mashup Australia teams built

  • My Representatives which lists all your local, state and federal government representatives upon your entering your address;
  • It’s buggered mate which enables citizens to notify maintenance problems with government infrastructure and track governments’ progress in fixing it (The UK has had functioning equivalents of both the above sites for several years); and
  • LobbyLens which mashes up data from the lobbyist register with data on winning government tenders.

Oh – and seventy nine other mashups! (What data does your workplace hold? Is it useful to others? Release it and find out!)

Our draft report is a roadmap for getting to Government 2.0 – and in doing so making our government more open, participatory, informed and citizen centric. Government 2.0 will help improve the quality of all those things where governments are major players as service deliverers, information providers or regulators. It can improve our schools, our hospitals, our workplaces and indeed our lives.

For that reason it holds the key to several existing government agendas, from building an innovative public service that is the world’s best to making the most of our huge national investment in broadband.

Government 2.0 is about more than Web 2.0 technology or even policy. It’s about governments letting the community into its workings, letting them see and contribute to their own governance. And so it requires culture change. That won’t be easy and it won’t happen overnight.

But it’s the kind of thing we do well once we get organised. We need only the courage, the perseverance and the imagination to grasp the opportunity.

Please visit us on (OK, so you’re already here!) and tell us how we can improve our draft report.

]]> 4
Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0: Draft report for comment Sun, 06 Dec 2009 22:39:34 +0000 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
Online Engagement Review Mon, 30 Nov 2009 00:46:22 +0000 Darren Sharp Darren Sharp works for Collabforge, who have been commissioned to undertake a review of the Government 2.0 Taskforce’s online engagement activities.

The Taskforce has attracted significant public participation during its operation and will attract equal interest in terms of the legacy it leaves behind, both in terms of its engagement methods and approach to community management. The Online Engagement Review will provide an independent assessment of the Taskforce’s activities and the input of the community to date. This review will also propose and explore various options that build on the unique knowledge, networks and resources generated by the community via the Taskforce’s online engagement spaces.

As senior consultant with Collabforge I’d love to hear your views on a range of issues related to the Taskforce’s online engagement efforts including:

  • Your views on the conclusion of Taskforce activities, and what, if any, transition measures should be implemented to protect the ‘network value’ (public goods, social connections & knowledge) generated by community participants.
  • Reflection on pathways for sustaining the various existing web spaces that have been created (the blog, mashup contest, IdeaScale, Facebook & Twitter) with the express purpose of leveraging any future community participation in a structured and ongoing fashion.
  • Consideration of legacy issues regarding the online initiatives and assets of the Taskforce .

Please fire away in the comments with your thoughts and reflections.

]]> 17
Emergency 2.0 Australia Tue, 10 Nov 2009 22:18:33 +0000 Maurits van der Vlugt Maurits van der Vlugt works for NGIS Australia, who have been commissioned by the Taskforce to undertake a project regarding the use of social media for emergency management.

Emergency 2.0 Australia is a project examining how Social Media can assist in Emergency Management. It is about how Web 2.0 tools and technologies, emerging all around us, can help improving location enabled information sharing between Emergency Management Agencies and the affected community.

For example, how do Twitter, Facebook and Mash-ups help getting flood-warnings, information on evacuation routes etc. out to the community better and quicker? Conversely how do agencies further improve their Common Operating Picture with timely community input on roadblocks, damage reports, or stranded cattle? This story contains a more extensive example.

The project website is here to inform about the progress and outcomes of the project. But, more importantly, it is here for your input. In true Web 2 fashion, we will (and quite frankly: have to!) rely on the community to show us what is needed, what is happening, and what can be done in this area.

We therefore ask for your help. Whether you’re working in the emergency services, are a volunteer or an interested citizen, we are looking for your ideas, comments, or pointers to any leading or emerging practice examples. Throughout this site there will be opportunities to leave your thoughts online. Of course, you can always contact the team directly.

The project is supported by the Government 2.0 Taskforce, and will deliver a report on leading and emerging practices in Australia and abroad, recommendations for follow-up activities, and (with your help), a vibrant community of interest.

On behalf of the project team, I am looking forward to working with you all, and help Australian Emergency Services do an even better job for the community.

Maurits van der Vlugt, Project Lead

]]> 4
BTalk Australia Interview Wed, 04 Nov 2009 06:06:00 +0000 Nicholas Gruen Just a quick post: in case anyone’s interested, here’s an interview I did a few days ago with Phil Dobbie from BTalk Australia.  We talked about topics including the benefits of releasing public sector information, government use of Web 2.0, and my own series of  Inquiries 2.0 blog posts (parts one, two and three). You can listen to the interview at the link above, or stream it through the player below:

]]> 0
If you could start with a blank sheet of paper… Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:03:13 +0000 Martin Stewart-Weeks For many, the challenge of spreading the impact and value of Government 2.0 is not about the technology (although there are plenty of challenges there of course) but about the way public servants behave in the more open and collaborative world of social networking. Culture change is key, we’re told.

Only this week, at a conference in Canberra on Government 2.0, Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner (one of the Ministers who commissioned this task Force) said that public servants “should feel free and encouraged to engage in robust professional discussion online.” Yet as discussion later in the conference bore out, the reality is that doesn’t always happen.

The question then becomes how best to provide guidance to public servants so they can be more active and confident as contributors to the conversations and interactions in the spreading online communities of influence and practice?
Many organisations in public, private and community sectors have developed guidance about social media and online engagement ( And there are guidelines already in place from the Australian Public Service Commission, currently under review (Circular 2008/8: Interim protocols for online media participation).

But imagine for a moment it was your job to create the guidelines that will help public servants engage online. Although you have the examples from other organisations, you are given the rare luxury to start with a blank sheet of paper (at least for this exercise). What would you write? What issues would you include? Where would you start? Who would you talk to?

We’d like to hear your ideas about the kind of guidelines you think would be most useful. You can either write a full set of guidelines or just offer some ideas or items that you think could form part of a larger set of guidelines. And if, in the process, you have any thoughts about the underlying values which the guidelines should reflect and reinforce, feel free to say something about those too.

When you are offering your thoughts, please keep these three constraints in mind:

  1. The guidelines and values statement should be as short as possible – probably no more than one sentence for each principle, with maybe a few sentences to explain if you think that’s needed.
  2. Write the statements themselves in a clear, simple style that avoids too much jargon
  3. Put your ideas to a simple test – would the statements provide useful and reliable guidance to a public servant who wants to get involved online, to be engaged, but wants to do it with confidence and impact. And feel free to illustrate in ‘cameos’ which could be incorporated in supporting materials.

Look forward to your ideas and suggestions.

]]> 31
Opening Pandora’s Box – Making Government 2.0 Websites More Accessible Wed, 14 Oct 2009 05:33:46 +0000 Peter Alexander [Taskforce Secretariat] The rise of new Web 2.0 technologies and content models brings with it increasingly complex challenges for Government agencies to keep their websites accessible e.g AJAX objects, dynamic content, Rich Internet Applications and user generated content.

While we want our Government agencies to be braver and experiment with these new technologies and content models, we don’t want them to abandon their responsibilities to provide universal access to public sector information by applying best practice in accessibility and usability.

To reward rather than punish some of our braver agencies, we thought we would run a slightly different type of contest that will give them a helping hand to improve the accessibility of their Government 2.0 websites. To help the Taskforce with this process, we have enlisted the assistance of Media Access Australia to help us select, review and hopefully also fix-up a couple of Government 2.0 websites.

Are we opening Pandora’s Box by running a contest about Government 2.0 accessibility? Most probably yes, but we can’t ignore the elephant in the room and the best way we reinforce the message that accessibility is just as serious a responsibility for Government 2.0 website as it was for Government 1.0 is to lead by example and show that Government 2.0 and accessibility can comfortably co-exist.

The Challenge

We want you to nominate Government websites that have implemented Web 2.0 technologies and techniques so we can put them up for an accessibility make-over (which won’t be nearly as cheesy as those make over reality TV shows).

The Makeover Process

Based on your nominations and feedback, we will select up to five websites that will be added to the Australian Web Access Review website for two weeks to obtain more detailed community and user feedback. Based on this feedback, MAA will prepare a “makeover” action plan with recommendations for how these sites could be given a makeover to improve their accessibility.  The Taskforce will then engage with the agencies about how they can implement their action plan, and we may even commission a project to engage a consultant to provide them with any technical assistance or expertise that they need. We can’t promise that this process will fix every accessibility issue with these websites, but we think we can make some real progress that will inspire and teach other agencies how to handle some of the accessibility challenges of web 2.0 (which should make it easier for them to embrace Government 2.0).

Category Prize

As with the Suggest a Dataset challenge, no prizes will be awarded in this category – any improvements to agency websites we can facilitate will be a reward that everyone can benefit from!

Entries for this challenge are due by 5pm, October 30 5PM, November 6, although after that we’ll leave the IdeaScale page open and running for continued discussion and participation.

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 – Web 2.0 Accesibility Makeover

]]> 4