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

Government 2.0 Issues Paper

How you should use this Issues Paper

We want to hear the arguments, information and stories that you have to tell us. The rest of this document is simply our way of helping you do that. It is not a template that you should feel obliged to follow, though we hope that this paper helps. There may be questions you wish to address that are not here, just as there may be questions we have raised you do not wish to address.

Also, please note, our focus in this Issues Paper is on your making a written submission. You can find details about how to make a submission at Appendix 1. We also offer the option to make online submissions through our Consultation page at

As you may be aware, there are other channels by which you can communicate with us. You can comment on our blog at and members of both the Taskforce and its secretariat are attending various conferences and other activities where Government 2.0 will be discussed. You are welcome to attend.

You can provide the Taskforce with feedback at any time, for instance through our blog, but we cannot promise to consider submissions on this paper which we receive after start of business Monday 24 August 2009.

The Taskforce would like to thank those people, both from Australia and offshore, who contributed to this Issues Paper both by making comments on our blog and by making specific comments on this Issues Paper when it was issued in ‘Beta’ format a few days before finalisation.

Our Job

The Taskforce is charged with finding ways of accelerating the development of Government 2.0 to help government consult, and where possible actively collaborate with the community, to open up government and to maximise access to publicly funded information through the use of Web 2.0 techniques. We will do this with recommendations for government policy and also by funding projects which offer promise in accelerating the coming of Government 2.0.


The Taskforce will be looking at the use of Web 2.0 both within government as well as in the government/public interface.

The Terms of Reference of the Taskforce are at Appendix 2.

Why Government 2.0?


The aim of Government 2.0 is to make government information more accessible and useable, to make government more consultative, participatory and transparent, to build a culture of online innovation, and to promote collaboration across agencies in online and information initiatives.


There are obvious benefits in moving in this direction to support, complement and strengthen existing engagement and consultation practices. Online engagement means citizens should be able to collaborate more readily with government and each other in developing and considering new policy ideas. It can give citizens greater insight into the policy making process and greater appreciation of the complexities of policy decisions. It makes possible an ongoing conversation amongst all who wish to participate in considering the effectiveness of existing government programs, laws and regulations and the scope for improvement. Government can use collaborative technologies to draw on the skills, knowledge and resources of the general community when developing policies or delivering services. Government agencies can receive feedback more rapidly, from more people at less cost. This in turn provides an opportunity for government to improve the way it delivers services to citizens.

How will we achieve Government 2.0?

Governments around the world and certainly our own governments have been relatively good at seizing many of the opportunities provided in the first incarnation of the internet, now often called Web 1.0, that is the use of the internet as a platform to distribute public material and solicit information from stakeholders by way of online ‘feedback forms’. Indeed in 2008 the internet became the most common way citizens last made contact with government .

However a range of possibilities are emerging on the internet which have been dubbed Web 2.0. The revolutionary potential of Web 2.0 is apparent in websites like Google, Flickr, Facebook and Wikipedia. The central theme of Web 2.0 is moving away from point to point communications and towards many to many communication and collaboration.


There is a buzz of Web 2.0 in the community and amongst enthusiasts who post to blogs and sites like Flickr and join online discussions.

Governments across Australia have taken some interest in the applications of Web 2.0 to government. However compared with the speed of adoption of Web 2.0 tools and modes of operating in some quarters, progress in embracing Web 2.0 within government has been modest.

A comment from our Beta consultation:

This comes down to a fundamental view of what Government is for.

If one is of the view that the purpose of Government is to shape society into some kind of ideal, where everyone is on the same page working to some kind of utopian goal, then Web2.0 has very little to offer. In that world view, the Government has already worked out what it’s going to do and the job of the citizen is to either help it get there (usually by means of constructive “submissions”, but only when “consulted”) or get out of the way and let the Government do its thing.

If one is of the view that the role of the Government is to act as a kind of social lubricant to enable citizens to employ their own ideals in furtherance of their own goals, then that’s where Web2.0 is strong. Enabling that outcome requires the Government to be part of the conversation, so that it can see where obstacles are and apply its resources appropriately to smoothing the way for citizens without creating more problems than it solves. Government can be a remarkably blunt instrument, which needs to be wielded with care.


I suspect that the slowness of Web2.0 adoption comes from the fact that those of us who support this initiative are in the latter mindset, while much of the Government and its accompanying bureaucracy are in the former mindset.
Resolving this schism is, IMHO, one of the paramount challenges of Government 2.0.

Mark Newton

Key Questions

On public sector information


How can we build a culture within government which favours the disclosure of public sector information?


What government information should be more freely available and what might be made of it?

On digital engagement


What are the major obstacles to fostering a culture of online engagement within government and how can they be tackled?


How can government capture the imagination of citizens to encourage participation in policy development and collaboration between citizens and government?

A comment from our Beta consultation:

The primary obstacles that emerge in our research on this are very clear, they include:


i) there is an inherent culture of risk aversion within government;


ii) failing to integrate online engagement fully into the policy cycle means that people see little point in becoming engaged;


iii) within government, engagement happens at too low a level; people want to see senior policy officials and ministers involved before they believe it has value; and


iv) using the wrong kind of engagement tool; it’s not about fashion, it’s about choosing the right tool for the policy stage and audience.

Andy Williamson



A number of reviews and processes have pointed to the importance of greater dissemination and reuse of public sector information and greater online engagement with citizens/between governments/between governments and citizens. At the Australian Government level, for example, these include the Cutler Review into Innovation , and the Gershon Review into ICT use and management . Some State governments have also been making important strides. Most recently the Victorian Government has released its Report of the Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee on the Inquiry into Improving Access to Victorian Public Sector Information and Data, Parliamentary Paper No. 198 Session 2006-2009, June 2009.

Proposed legislative change, including proposals for the establishment of an Office of the Information Commissioner and amendments to Freedom of Information legislation to impose a publication scheme on all agencies underpin an agenda of greater public access to government information.

The proposed Office of the Information Commissioner will incorporate the existing Office of the Privacy Commissioner. Handling privacy well is important to generating the trust and confidence in the community necessary to optimise community engagement in Web 2.0 initiatives.


Many government agencies are currently involved in aspects of information policy development. Many are also exploring the use of new tools and techniques to improve the way they work. The Taskforce seeks to build on this work and to accelerate this process of change to allow more open access to, and use of, the information created and/or funded by government. Equally important, the Taskforce will explore the issue of effective consultation, engagement and collaboration with citizens. This work will inform the framework for an Information Policy that can be applied across the Australian Government.

In this paper we elaborate on issues relating to public sector information. We have covered these at greater length than other issues under reference because there has been greater policy development in this area compared with innovation and online engagement. The relatively smaller space devoted to the latter themes in this Issues Paper does not signal that we view them as being of lesser importance.

OECD Principles for public sector information

In April 2008 the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Council, adopted the Recommendation of the OECD Council for enhanced access and more effective use of public sector information. (Australia is a member of the OECD and was a participant in and a signatory to the Recommendation.) It recommends that member countries “in establishing or reviewing their policies regarding access and use of public sector information…take due account of and implement the following principles, which provide a general framework for the wider and more effective use of public sector information and content and the generation of new uses from it.”

The Taskforce acknowledges these principles and intends to use them as a starting point for that part of our work relating to public sector information. Our focus then becomes how we realise those principles as fully as possible in the practical operations of government.

1. Openness. Maximising the availability of public sector information for use and re-use based upon presumption of openness as the default rule to facilitate access and re-use. Developing a regime of access principles or assuming openness in public sector information as a default rule wherever possible no matter what the model of funding is for the development and maintenance of the information. Defining grounds of refusal or limitations, such as for protection of national security interests, personal privacy, preservation of private interests for example where protected by copyright, or the application of national access legislation and rules.

2. Access and transparent conditions for re-use. Encouraging broad non-discriminatory competitive access and conditions for re-use of public sector information, eliminating exclusive arrangements, and removing unnecessary restrictions on the ways in which it can be accessed, used, re-used, combined or shared, so that in principle all accessible information would be open to re-use by all. Improving access to information over the Internet and in electronic form. Making available and developing automated on-line licensing systems covering re-use in those cases where licensing is applied, taking into account the copyright principle below.

3. Asset lists. Strengthening awareness of what public sector information is available for access and re-use. This could take the form of information asset lists and inventories, preferably published on-line, as well as clear presentation of conditions to access and re-use at access points to the information.

4. Quality. Ensuring methodical data collection and curation practices to enhance quality and reliability including through cooperation of various government bodies involved in the creation, collection, processing, storing and distribution of public sector information.

5. Integrity. Maximising the integrity and availability of information through the use of best practices in information management. Developing and implementing appropriate safeguards to protect information from unauthorised modification or from intentional or unintentional denial of authorised access to information.

6. New technologies and long-term preservation. Improving interoperable archiving, search and retrieval technologies and related research including research on improving access and availability of public sector information in multiple languages, and ensuring development of the necessary related skills. Addressing technological obsolescence and challenges of long term preservation and access. Finding new ways for the digitisation of existing public sector information and content, the development of born-digital public sector information products and data, and the implementation of cultural digitisation projects (public broadcasters, digital libraries, museums, etc.) where market mechanisms do not foster effective digitisation.


7. Copyright. Intellectual property rights should be respected. There is a wide range of ways to deal with copyrights on public sector information, ranging from governments or private entities holding copyrights, to public sector information being copyright-free. Exercising copyright in ways that facilitate re-use (including waiving copyright and creating mechanisms that facilitate waiving of copyright where copyright owners are willing and able to do so, and developing mechanisms to deal with orphan works), and where copyright holders are in agreement, developing simple mechanisms to encourage wider access and use (including simple and effective licensing arrangements), and encouraging institutions and government agencies that fund works from outside sources to find ways to make these works widely accessible to the public.

8. Pricing. When public sector information is not provided free of charge, pricing public sector information transparently and consistently within and, as far as possible, across different public sector organisations so that it facilitates access and re-use and ensures competition. Where possible, costs charged to any user should not exceed marginal costs of maintenance and distribution, and in special cases extra costs for example of digitisation. Basing any higher pricing on clearly expressed policy grounds.


9. Competition. Ensuring that pricing strategies take into account considerations of unfair competition in situations where both public and business users provide value added services. Pursuing competitive neutrality, equality and timeliness of access where there is potential for cross-subsidisation from other government monopoly activities or reduced charges on government activities. Requiring public bodies to treat their own downstream/value-added activities on the same basis as their competitors for comparable purposes, including pricing. Particular attention should be paid to single sources of information resources. Promoting non-exclusive arrangements for disseminating information so that public sector information is open to all possible users and re-users on non-exclusive terms.

10. Redress mechanisms: Providing appropriate transparent complaints and appeals processes.

11. Public private partnerships. Facilitating public-private partnerships where appropriate and feasible in making public sector information available, for example by finding creative ways to finance the costs of digitisation, while increasing access and re-use rights of third parties.

12. International access and use. Seeking greater consistency in access regimes and administration to facilitate cross-border use and implementing other measures to improve cross-border interoperability, including in situations where there have been restrictions on non-public users. Supporting international co-operation and co-ordination for commercial re-use and non-commercial use. Avoiding fragmentation and promote greater interoperability and facilitate sharing and comparisons of national and international datasets. Striving for interoperability and compatible and widely used common formats.


13. Best practices. Encouraging the wide sharing of best practices and exchange of information on enhanced implementation, educating users and re-users, building institutional capacity and practical measures for promoting re-use, cost and pricing models, copyright handling, monitoring performance and compliance, and their wider impacts on innovation, entrepreneurship, economic growth and social effects.

Structure of paper

The remainder of this paper discusses OECD principles and additional principles as they relate to online innovation and engagement.

•    Principles for openness and access (OECD principles 1-3, 6, 10)

•    Principles for quality and integrity of information (OECD Principles 4 and 5.)

•    Principles to maximise efficiency in production and distribution of information (OECD principles 7-9, 11-13)

•    Maximising the potential of Government 2.0

Principles for openness and access


Open access to public sector information is generally agreed to be beneficial to our economy and society and to be the preferred approach. By openness and access, we refer to the making available of appropriate categories of public sector information on terms and in formats that permit and enable use and reuse of that information by any member of the public. However, we recognise that there are limits to this principle of open access, namely to respect privacy, confidentiality, security and possibly cost recovery concerns.

For the purposes of this issues paper public sector information is taken to exclude personal information that would not be available for publication or reuse under Australian privacy laws, or other legislation. It might include such information if it were adequately transformed to address any concern, for instance by anonymising it.

Another issue is how widely policies to optimise the openness of public sector information should apply across government. The recent Victorian Parliamentary inquiry proposed that public sector information policy should apply to government departments only, at least for an initial period, although it suggested that it may be appropriate to expand this coverage over time. We would be interested to hear arguments for and against restrictive and more expansive application of policies to optimise the openness of public sector information and, where a broader definition is supported, how this might relate to information that is commercially sensitive.


Question 1:
How widely should policy to optimise the openness of public sector information be applied? Should it be applied beyond government departments and, if so, to which bodies, for instance government business enterprises or statutory authorities?

Openness (OECD principle 1)

The OECD recommends that the presumption of openness should be the default rule, and this has been backed by recent moves in the Australian Government. Proposed changes to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) aim to make it easier to obtain documents under FOI legislation, in part by emphasising the presumption of openness. FOI Act changes also aim to encourage the release of information through a publication scheme and otherwise outside that Act. Proposed changes to the Archives Act 1983 bring forward the time at which government records come available under that Act from 30 to 20 years. These changes are backed by the proposed creation of an Information Commissioner and Freedom of Information Commissioner.

These legislative changes are a significant move in the direction of accessibility of government information.

One of the major barriers to achieving greater accessibility has been the lack of a pro-disclosure culture within government. Privacy, national security and confidentiality issues will properly prevent the release of some information, but this should not inhibit the release of other non-sensitive government information.


Question 2:
What are the ways in which we build a culture within government which favours the disclosure of public sector information? What specific barriers exist that would restrict or complicate this and how should they be dealt with?


Question 3:
What government information would you like to see made more freely available?


Question 4:
What are the possible privacy, security, confidentiality or other implications that might arise in making public sector information available? What options are there for mitigating any potential risks?

A comment from our Beta consultation:


I believe that Question 2 is one of the most important problems we face in adoption of this goal. Broad cultural change is required across government that encourages innovation whilst providing a safety-net for those who try and fail. Leadership from the highest levels and generational change is required to make this a reality. The key is not to expect too much too soon as transparency is a terrifying concept for most government agencies and their officers.


All of the technical, legal and logistical problems will be solvable, but worthless without real cultural change at all levels of government.

David Heacock

Access and transparent conditions for re-use (OECD principle 2)


Government agencies currently make a large amount of information available on their websites, and much more could be made available freely on the internet. However, technological, copyright and licensing issues tend to restrict the way that this information can be made available and used by the public.


Making government information accessible online, particularly in standard formats such as XML, CSV, ODF, RDF or RDFa etc allows those outside government, whether they are citizens, firms or third sector organisations, to combine, present and analyse this information in different ways, creating both public and private benefits.


Question 5:
What is needed to make the large volume of public sector information (a) searchable and (b) useable? And in each case, what do we do about legacy information in agencies? How might the licensing of on-line information be improved to facilitate greater re-use where appropriate?

The Semantic Web


The Semantic Web is a series of World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards that provides a framework to describe information about data. This information is called metadata. Providing sets of raw data without accompanying context may limit the ability of people to meaningfully re-use any information provided. For example, what does the data element ‘60’ represent? Is it someone’s age? A speed limit? When was the information collected? By whom? What are the units of measurement?

Providing metadata in a standardised format also facilitates a precise search. For example, ‘What are the Commonwealth import duties for a lathe purchased from Germany?’


In Australia the Australian Government Locator Service (AGLS) Metadata Standard (AS 5044) has been endorsed by all Australian Governments as the standard for describing government resources (information and services) to support their discovery in a Web environment. AGLS is based on and extends the international resource discovery metadata standard, the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set. AGLS metadata can be expressed using RDF (Resource Description Framework) syntax and modelling, which is one of the recommendations of the Semantic Web.

There are other relevant metadata standards as well for things like rights management, geospatial data, recordkeeping, digital preservation, etc, all of which can potentially be useful in a semantic web environment, but discoverability is the key requirement for which you need standardised metadata for the Semantic Web to work.


There are of course costs associated with marking up data with semantic annotations. These costs increase with the degree of metadata provided for each element. A difficult-to-answer issue what be at what point do the costs of providing extra information exceed the benefits?

Ensuring discoverability - asset lists (OECD principle 3)

How could information be made more accessible?

Question 6:
How does government ensure that people, business, industry and other potential users of government information know about, and can readily find, information they may want to use, for example, the use of a consolidated directory or repository for public sector information?

New technologies and long-term preservation (OECD principle 6)

Publication in proprietary formats can represent a barrier to participation for citizens if the owner of intellectual property in the standard refuses to make it freely available. In addition, a requirement for government to maintain information in multiple formats represents a cost to government.

Some national and sub-national governments have mandated that all information must be accessible and stored in formats that are publicly open standards. Thus such formats like Open Document Formats (ODF) have been preferred to proprietary formats such as DOC.

Question 7:
Should governments mandate that information should be only kept and stored in open and publicly documented standards? Could such a stipulation raise costs or reduce flexibility?

It should be possible to share the benefits and knowledge gained from online and information initiatives across government. However, this largely depends on the interoperability of information and business architectures between government agencies and between them and their users.

Interoperability in turn depends on a range of factors including the adoption of standards and definitions for recording information to enable it to be shared.


Question 8:
What approaches should the Government use to allow information to be easily shared?

In addition, there are many online and information initiatives being trialled across government agencies. A variety of online tools, technologies and platforms are being tested and used. In the Web 2.0 sphere, these include the use by agencies of blogs, YouTube, Flickr and Facebook.

Some additional principles outlined in an exploration of the issues relating to the use of Web 2.0 by Tim O’Reilly include the following:

•    Support lightweight programming models that allow for loosely coupled systems


•    Cooperate, Don’t Control


•    Design for hackability and remixability


•    Network Effects by Default


•    The Perpetual Beta

Question 9:
How can the initiatives and ideas of agencies be harnessed for the benefit of agencies across government? How can duplication of effort be avoided?

The US Government has recently established the website to increase public access to high value, machine readable datasets generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.

1 includes searchable data catalogues providing access to data in three ways: through the "raw" data catalogue, the tool catalogue and the geo-data catalogue. The raw data and the Geo-data catalogues are provided in CSV, XML, KML or SHP formats. The Tools Catalogue includes pre-packaged data sets such as look-up tables.


The stated goal of is to improve access to Federal data and expand creative use of those data beyond the walls of government by encouraging innovative ideas (e.g., web applications). Another objective is to make government more transparent by creating an unprecedented level of openness.

Redress mechanisms (OECD principle 10)


To ensure these principles are implemented sensibly we need effective mechanisms for hearing complaints about and redressing government’s inaction in the release of information.

Conversely, making government information available online may increase the risk of unintentional or inappropriate release of information that may damage an individual or business. If that information is then re-used, it may lead to proliferation of the harm.

Formal complaints and appeals processes already apply across the Australian Government. Depending on the specific circumstances, a person has redress, for example, to appeal mechanisms in the FOI Act, the complaints mechanisms in the Ombudsman Act 1976 or Privacy Act 1988, or judicial mechanisms in the Administration Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977.


Question 10:
Are these complaints and appeals processes sufficient? Are additional processes needed for government as it engages in the Web 2.0 world?

Principles for quality and integrity of information

Quality and integrity (OECD principles 4 and 5)


All government agencies are engaged in the creation and collection of information and government’s online engagement with citizens is subject to the same information laws, such as the Freedom of Information Act 1982, the Archives Act 1983 and the Privacy Act 1988, as are the records of other interactions with citizens. The fundamental importance of good recordkeeping to ensure transparent and accountable government has been widely recognised, as has the part played by failures in recordkeeping in many inquiries and audit reports.


Question 11:
What should government do to foster a culture of compliance with information and records management policies and best practice?


Question 12:
What recordkeeping challenges are posed by both the re-use of government information, and in the mechanisms of development of government policy and practice through interactive citizen engagement?


There is rich potential in this area for perverse outcomes. Agencies frequently cite concerns about the integrity of their information as a reason for their reluctance to release it. And the perfect can be the enemy of the good. On the one hand mandating the release of information might be one way of ensuring that agencies have an incentive to maintain its quality and integrity. On the other hand the release of some information (with an appropriate disclaimer as to quality) may often, but not necessarily always, be better than not releasing it at all.


Question 13:
How does government manage the costs and risks of publication of inaccurate information?

An important aspect of quality (and integrity) is the provision of information (‘metadata’) that describes the quality of information, so that users can determine whether it is ‘fit for purpose’ in terms of their proposed use of the information. For example, knowing the source of the information, the checks the information has been subject to, and any other factors that might affect accuracy, can help users know how the information might be used appropriately and equally important, the hazards in using it improperly.

Users may be able to interact with government information providers to better understand the information (and therefore increase the likelihood that the information will be used appropriately) or to express concerns about aspects of the information.

Citizens expect government information to be of high quality and integrity but will also have an expectation of the responsiveness of government to deliver information.



Timeliness is a particularly important matter. From at least the late 1970s the ICT revolution has been driven by firms that have made felicitous tradeoffs between the quality of their offering and getting their product to market. Too early and the market could turn against a product for the number of bugs and other errors which frustrate users. Too late and the market has moved on.


This was the case even before ‘Web 1.0’ as summarised in Steve Jobs arresting comment “True genius ships”. But it is particularly so in the world of Web 2.0 where it is now quite normal to provide users with comprehensive access to beta products and indeed to leave them designated as beta products for many years. Gmail only recently moved out of beta after five years as a mainstream consumer product.


The issue raises its head particularly in the area of data where government agencies delay publication to ensure data integrity anxious either from a natural desire to do their job properly, or to minimise risk, or to meet standards internally mandated within government. In the meantime, as we saw in the case of the Victorian fires, valuable information however imperfect goes unpublished.


Question 14:
What criteria might we adopt in ensuring that agencies make data available in a reasonable time-frame? (And how might we define a “reasonable time-frame”?)


Question 15:
It often takes quite some time to compile and create consistent and reliable data – especially for large data sets. When is it appropriate to release limited and possibly less accurate data and where is it appropriate to wait for higher quality and more extensive data? Where various principles are in some tension with each other, for instance quality and cost or timeliness, how should trade-offs be made?

The National Toilet Map

As part of the National Continence Management Strategy, the Australian Government funded the development of the National Toilet Map website . The website shows the location of more than 14,000 public and private public toilet facilities across Australia. Details can also be found along major travel routes and for shorter journeys as well. Useful information is provided about each toilet, such as location, opening hours, availability of baby change rooms, accessibility for people with disabilities and the details of other nearby toilets.


A number of organisations, commercial and not-for-profit, large and small, have requested access to the data in order to provide a range of innovative services. To date, such access has not been granted. The wider availability of this information, through sources other than the National Toilet Map website, appears to promote the objectives of the National Continence Management Strategy and is consistent with the OECD principles enunciated earlier in this Issues Paper.

Principles to maximise efficiency in production and distribution of information

Intellectual property (OECD principle 7)


It is hoped that, through strategic management of copyright and new Web 2.0 licensing tools like Creative Commons and similar open licensing mechanisms for database material, we can more easily provide the necessary permission to promote better access to and reuse of public sector information. In the short term this means using current copyright law and practice to do a better job and in the longer term assessing the appropriateness of existing copyright law for a digital environment and any changes that should be made to address problems.


Question 16:
What can we do to better promote and co-ordinate initiatives in this area? How can we draw key departments together?

Question 17:
What sort of public sector information should be released under what form of copyright license? When should government continue to utilise its intellectual property rights?

Apps for Democracy Competition

The 2008 Apps for Democracy competition was an initiative of the District of Columbia’s Office of the Chief Information Officer. The competition involved members of the public making an application using data from the 277 datasets made available by the District of Columbia.

There was a total of $US20,000 in prize money on offer, spread over 60 cash prizes ranging from $US100 to $US2000. The competition ran for 30 days and received 47 entries including web, Facebook and iPhone applications. Entries were divided into two categories: entries by professional agencies, and “indie” entries by individuals and groups of individuals.


Entries included a large number of geospatial mash-up applications making use of available datasets. The competition was viewed as an unqualified success by the D.C. government, as it cost $US50,000 to run, but provided a claimed $US2.6 million in value to the city through the created applications.

Government is subject to additional obligations which seek to ensure that all levels of our community are able to access its services, whether online or offline. For online engagement, government must consider those citizens who are excluded for various reasons, e.g. lack of access to technology, disability, health barriers, lack of computer-literacy, lack of English, lack of literacy, etc. Many of these issues are currently not adequately addressed by commercially available and popular online platforms.

Pricing and Competition (OECD principles 8-9)
There is currently a mixed approach across government to the pricing of information. In the electronic world, the marginal costs of providing information are lower than in a paper-based environment, which could suggest that different pricing approaches might be appropriate. Furthermore, information is often considered as a ‘public good’, which also might impact on thinking about appropriate pricing policies.


Question 18:
When should agencies charge for access to information? Should agencies charge when they are providing value-added services? What might constitute ‘value added services’ (eg customisation of information)? In what circumstances should agencies be able to recover the costs of obtaining the information or providing access? A common model in the private sector is ‘freemium’ distribution whereby many, often most, users are supplied with some product or service for free whilst others pay for use in large scale commercial enterprise (for instance AVG anti-virus) or for some premium product (for instance Word Web). Are there similar models for public sector information and/or do they merit further consideration?

A comment from our Beta consultation:

Pricing should also take into account the economic value of information if released.

There are many cases where there is significant positive economic or social value in making data freely available – such as the sharing of emergency data between government agencies (which currently is often costed at a level that discourages usage and therefore reduces the effectiveness of emergency responses).

Charging for maintenance and distribution costs can cost significantly more in lost economic or social benefit than it achieves in cost recovery.

Craig Thomler

Public private partnerships (OECD principle 11)
Public-private partnerships might provide a way to make public sector information more readily available, for example by financing the costs of digitisation.

Question 19:
How can government take advantage of public private partnerships to increase access to public sector information without unduly constraining opportunities for third parties to use and reuse the information?

International access and use (OECD principle 12)
Many government agencies are involved in cooperative international programs and liaison. There are advantages to government in guiding interoperability and compatibility in dataset formats so as to ensure the most efficient and effective use of information.


Question 20:
What international activities relevant to this Taskforce should the Taskforce be considering and what needs to be done to improve cross-border use and interoperability of information?

Best practice (OECD principle 13)


Question 21:
How can best practice be facilitated, identified, rewarded, and further propagated?

Maximising the potential of Government 2.0

Fostering more consultative and collaborative online engagement in Government


There are obvious benefits to government in using collaborative technologies to draw on the skills, knowledge and resources of the general community when developing policies or delivering services. In many situations, much of the expertise, experience and deep knowledge that governments need to make good decisions about increasingly complex or ‘wicked’ problems exists outside government. New possibilities are emerging to link highly distributed networks of knowledge and expertise quickly and securely to focus on shared opportunities or problems to be solved.


In harnessing the opportunities arising from Web 2.0 technologies there is a potential for individuals to hesitate or avoid contributing where they sense that the technology isn’t ‘safe’. For example, people may fear that information about them will fall out of their control or they may avoid situations where they have to fully identify themselves before engaging with collaborative technologies. In this regard, embedding good privacy practices into collaborative technologies will play an important role in garnering the trust and confidence of individuals who wish to participate.


But beyond that, online engagement creates at least the potential to ‘democratise’ public administration and policy development by offering a much richer mix of spaces in which people can talk, listen, debate, argue and contribute their ideas and aspirations to the public conversation.

Moderated online engagement offers the potential for people to learn from each other and to constructively find common ground.


Question 22:
Have you engaged with the Australian government via a Web 2.0 channel? Which one/s? If so, why and what was your experience? If not, why not? What can be improved?

Go to where the people are


A major finding of the UK Power of Information reports is that Government consultation efforts can be greatly enhanced by consulting with existing interest groups in their online communities, such as A similar approach involves employing social networks and existing forums and blogs to target a different audience than would normally respond to a traditional government consultation. In Australia a recent example of this was the use of the Open Forum blog by Father Frank Brennan , the Chair of the Human Rights Consultative Committee to engage netizens on questions relating to the consultation.


Different combinations of public interaction methods suit different requirements and different audiences.

Increasingly agencies are combining traditional modes of consultation with Web 2.0 features and applications to enhance the visibility, promotion and interactivity of Government online consultation efforts. These include:

•    promoting a consultation on social networks such as Facebook

•    blogs


•    using videos either hosted on the consultation site or on a third-party site such as YouTube

•    including RSS feeds on the consultation site.

A comment from our Beta consultation:


Having responded to one consultation, a user may be more likely to respond to another consultation.  A related consultation should be easily visible at the point of completion or commencement of a user’s response.

“Like this consultation?  If you’re interested, we’d also like your feedback on consultation X!”

Gordon Grace



The benefits of online engagement will be realised best if as wide a range of citizens as possible are involved. However, some people may be uncomfortable with this type of interaction with government.


Question 23: How can government capture the imagination of citizens to encourage participation in policy development and collaboration between citizens and government?


Question 24: What sort of privacy issues might dissuade individuals from engaging with government via collaborative technologies? What sort of steps can we take to ensure that personal information is used appropriately? What options are there for mitigating any potential privacy risks?

Governments have generally mandated minimum accessibility standards which can create obstacles to using some of the leading Web 2.0 platforms where they do not conform with those standards.


Question 25:
How can government make it easier for people to engage on policy and other issues and make sure the opportunities are as open and accessible as possible?


Question 26:
What trade-offs must be considered between government using commercially available and popular online platforms and ensuring inclusive participation with all members of society and how should those tradeoffs be made?


It is significant that the Government is in the process of introducing legislation that proposes to incorporate the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, together with a Freedom of Information Commissioner, in a proposed Office of the Information Commissioner.  These initiatives illustrate the complex relationship and tension between protecting the privacy of individuals and opening access to public sector information.

A great deal of public sector information (PSI) is not on its face “personal information” as defined in the Privacy Act 1988.  On the other hand there can still be privacy issues or risks associated with open access to PSI.  Information from which only name and address has been removed, may still fall under the definition of “personal information,” as an individual’s identity may still be reasonably ascertainable from the information.

Re-identification of personal information is usually context-sensitive.  An organisation’s capacity to re-identify data may depend critically on its particular resources, or changing priorities.  Factors which may impact on the capacity for data to be re-identified include available data, new technologies, resources, and social or political imperatives for access to new or different types of data.  Combining unrelated datasets, now or in the future, may create the environment for more intrusive profiling, data-linking or data-matching of individuals’ personal information.

There are also privacy risks and issues relating to digital engagement, particularly around moderation, consent to publish and anonymity. For example, in respect to post-moderation, there is the risk that a participant may identify and provide information about another individual, which is published without that individual’s knowledge or consent.  This may constitute a breach of privacy by the relevant agency and provide grounds for a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner by the individual whose personal information has been disclosed.  This risk is not different in kind to existing risks, but the immediacy and ubiquity of the internet increases its likelihood considerably.

Online engagement challenges for Government

Australian Government efforts in online engagement have been crafted to comply with the Australian Public Service values, set out in section 10 of the Public Service Act 1999. These require that public servants to act in an apolitical, impartial and professional way.

The Australian Public Service Commission also recently released interim protocols for online media participation by public servants . There are a number of other legislative restrictions on what information can be disclosed by public servants. This has an impact on how free government agencies and public servants are to experiment with online consultation, since agency websites must be impartial and apolitical. This may affect the extent to which they can enter into meaningful discussion with the public.

Question 27:
How can public servants comply with the APS values and other protocols whilst still participating in online engagement? Should existing rules including legislation be changed and/or adapted to facilitate greater online engagement?

Government collaborative websites such as blogs generally require moderation. This involves time and labour cost. Third-party moderation tools and services are available. The process of moderation should be transparent, with the principles and parameters of the editorial control specified. This is good practice in all online jurisdictions.

Online consultations seeking input from the public can be at risk of agenda hijacking and the derailment of discussion although other forms of engagement are not immune from such possibilities. Thus for instance when the Obama Administration held online consultations on what the new Administration’s new priorities should be, the legalisation of marijuana was voted the most important priority. More recently one of the most prominent priorities has been the release of Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

While it is appropriate that views about which people feel strongly are aired, it is also important for there to be an ability to ‘agree to disagree’ and get on with the process of using the strengths of online engagement to improve policy development without being diverted by the attention given to symbolic issues or to lowest common denominators in policy.


Question 28:
How does government provide sufficient room for personal debate and passionate dissent but still ensure appropriate levels of moderation in online forums? Should moderation be ‘outsourced’ and if so in what circumstances and how? How might volunteers from the commenting community be selected to moderate?

A comment from our Beta consultation:

… If legalization of marijuana comes out of Obama’s online consultations, perhaps he should have a legalization-of-marijuana policy that stakes out a position on the issue.  Personally I couldn’t care less, but if it’s an issue that some folks think is important enough to get organized over, why shouldn’t it be on the agenda?  Would it hurt to put out a position paper?

Mark Newton

Fostering a culture of online innovation within government

New collaborative technologies are emerging all the time. These new technologies can improve the efficiencies of Government internally and can also alter and (hopefully) improve external-facing relations, particularly government-citizen engagement.

Innovation challenges for Government

Governments face responsibilities that are not always shared by the private sector or members of the broader community. Their conduct is expected to be above reproach. They are expected to be a trustworthy source of information and/or advice and they face a number of self-imposed obligations to ensure access and equity.
Recognising this, there are a number of potential challenges to Government making effective use of these new collaborative technologies:

•    access to many of these platforms may be blocked or considerably constrained for public service officials

•     the potential of these tools may conflict, in real or imagined ways, with the rules, policies and practices that apply to the public service

•     the greater immediacy, transparency, accountability and informality they introduce into our communications may be directly contrary to the prevailing government practice

•    public servants may be concerned about being ‘overwhelmed’ by the potential volume of activity that might arise from the new collaborative technologies, particularly when there is an expectation that governments will respond to all issues raised by citizens

•    awareness of the new technologies and the opportunities that they offer may delay their adoption.

The use by government of collaborative platforms is a relatively new phenomenon and may require a rethink of applicable rules, policies and practices. It also requires the development of social and online norms in government-citizen relations. As one commentator noted in discussion about one blogging effort by the Australian Government:


"It’s probably worth remembering: as untried as government consultation blogs are at the federal level in Australia, so too are citizens unused to being able to engage with their government in this way. They may be new at it, but so are we - and both sides still have a lot to learn about the other.”

Cultural barriers may constrain the adoption of collaborative tools and the newness of the approach may generate trepidation and dissuade uptake within the public sector.


Question 29:
What are the barriers to fostering a culture of online innovation within government? Which of those barriers should be maintained in any Government 2.0 initiatives? Which of those barriers should be removed? How should this be achieved? What different norms can or should apply to Government 2.0 efforts?


Question 30:
To what extent can government assist the uptake of Government 2.0 by centrally providing standard business management guidance and tools to avoid agencies having to ‘reinvent the wheel’ when considering their own online engagement guidelines?

Question 31:
How can government engage with individuals and stakeholders to support the development of innovative policies, programs, practices and service delivery? Are there good examples of where this is happening?

For profit firms often use the rich data they harvest from their existing information assets and their ongoing presence on the web to guide their own innovation, measuring consumer reactions to many small scale experiments and optimising operations, for instance the design of a website, in response to this feedback.


Question 32:
To what extent can we promote such an approach in the public sector and are there any examples of emerging practice?

Risk management

It is a cliché that public sector managers – and possibly the Ministers to whom they report -- are risk averse. But often they are not so much risk averse as innovation averse. That is, there is a high ‘burden of proof’ against doing something differently even where it involves relatively low risks.

Sometimes this is because it is simply more comfortable to do things the way they’ve always been done. In other circumstances, some argue that specific professions can be set in their ways. There may be some wisdom in this given the complexity of existing systems and the possibility of unanticipated consequences, particularly where these consequences may be political. These decisions are often heavily influenced by experts.


Question 33:
How can such expertise be governed so as not to unduly stifle innovation?

In comparison to many large commercial enterprises, public sector agencies in the main adopt quite restrictive practices in allowing staff access to Web 2.0 tools, social networking sites and even webmail. Most agencies simply ban access to these sites. One of the reasons often used to justify this position is the need to protect internal IT systems from exposure to threats from the internet. Highly prescriptive and centrally mandated security policies are often rigorously applied. Given the low risk culture of the public sector, it is difficult to see how agencies wishing to enter into the Web 2.0 world will be able to argue that the benefits to citizens, and to the operations of the agency, are of sufficient value to offset an exposure which cannot easily be assessed. Clearly the risks to agencies will vary depending on the nature of their business. It is unlikely that technology alone will solve this challenge.

Question 34:
To what degree is the opportunity for Government agencies to participate in the Web 2.0 world inhibited, or severely compromised, by issues such as security? How might this problem be overcome, in general and by individual agencies, within current legal and policy parameters and how might these parameters be changed to assist in overcoming these problems?

Contractual and procurement issues

The use by government agencies of social networks and Web 2.0 applications and services may raise contractual and procurement issues for governments such as unacceptable indemnity clauses.

The United States Government, through the General Services Administration, negotiated whole of government agreements with Flickr, YouTube and other Web 2.0 providers with waivers of objectionable provisions. Similar agreements with Web 2.0 providers may be needed in Australia.

Proposed Information Commissioner

The Australian Government has proposed legislative reforms with the principal objects of promoting a pro-disclosure culture across the Government and building a stronger foundation for more openness in government. These reforms involve changes to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 and Archives Act 1983 and the establishment of an Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC).

The functions of the Information Commissioner are set out in Clause 9 of the exposure draft and require the Information Commissioner to report to the Minister on a broad range of policies and practices relating to the administration and management of government information.

This Taskforce, in its Terms of Reference , has been given the task of identifying policies and frameworks to assist the Information Commissioner (and other agencies) in encouraging the dissemination of government information.

The Information Commissioner functions set out in the proposed Exposure Draft will obviously encompass issues that touch on questions raised in this Issues Paper. One of these is which aspects of Government information could fall within the purview of the proposed OIC.

These include, but are not limited to, the information management standards, policies and guidelines that are the responsibility of the National Archives, the IT system issues that are the responsibility of the Australian Government Information Management Office, and the administration of copyright that is the responsibility of the Attorney-General’s Department.

These areas all have some impact on recommendations the Taskforce might make.

Question 35:
What role could the proposed OIC play in encouraging the development of Government 2.0? Are there practical recommendations the Taskforce might make about how the OIC might best fulfil its functions in relation to optimising the dissemination of Government information?

Appendix 1

Making a Submission: Terms of Engagement

We welcome your written submissions. There is no set format required and submissions need not be formal documents.

Submissions in electronic format are preferred and can be emailed to us at

If that isn’t possible, you can mail them to:

Government 2.0 Taskforce Secretariat
Department of Finance and Deregulation
John Gorton Building
King Edward Terrace
Parkes ACT 2600

We also offer the option to make online submissions through our Consultation page at

As a general principle all written submissions will be placed on the Government 2.0 website, as will discussion papers and other material developed as the Taskforce progresses.

Confidential submissions will be accepted from individuals where individuals can argue credibly that publication might compromise their ability to express their view freely. Pseudonymous submissions will also be accepted. Should you make a pseudonymous submission, it may not receive full consideration unless you remain contactable by e-mail should we wish to seek clarification or elaboration.

Please note that any request made under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 for access to any material marked confidential will be determined in accordance with that Act.
Submissions must be received by start of business Monday 24 August 2009.

If you do not want to make a written submission but would still like to give us some feedback, you can communicate with us on our blog at

Appendix 2

Terms of reference

The Government 2.0 Taskforce (‘Taskforce’) will advise and assist the government to:

•    make government information more accessible and usable — to establish a pro-disclosure culture around non-sensitive public sector information;

•    make government more consultative, participatory and transparent — to maximise the extent to which government utilises the views, knowledge and resources of the general community;

•    build a culture of online innovation within government — to ensure that government is receptive to the possibilities created by new collaborative technologies and uses them to advance its ambition to continually improve the way it operates;

•    promote collaboration across agencies with respect to online and information initiatives — to ensure that efficiencies, innovations, knowledge and enthusiasm are shared on a platform of open standards; and

•    identify and/or trial initiatives that may achieve or demonstrate how to accomplish the above objectives.

The Taskforce will advise government on structural barriers that prevent, and policies to promote, greater information disclosure, digital innovation and online engagement including the division of responsibilities for, and overall coordination of, these issues within government.

The Taskforce will work with the public, private, cultural and not for profit sectors to fund and develop seed projects that demonstrate the potential of proactive information disclosure and digital engagement for government. More information can be found on the Taskforce’s Project Fund page.

In particular the Taskforce will also identify policies and frameworks to assist the Information Commissioner and other agencies in:

•    developing and managing a whole of government information publication scheme to encourage greater disclosure of public sector information;

•    extending opportunities for the reuse of government information, and considering the terms of that use, to maximise the beneficial flow of that information and facilitate productive applications of government information to the greatest possible extent;

•    encouraging effective online innovation, consultation and engagement by government, including by drawing on the lessons of the government’s online consultation trials and any initiatives undertaken by the Taskforce.

The Taskforce will meet regularly, consulting in an open and transparent manner and use online solutions for its engagement wherever possible.

The Taskforce will provide a final report on its activities to the Minister for Finance and Deregulation and the Cabinet Secretary by the end of 2009. The Taskforce will disband on completion of its final report.

Creative Commons: some rights reserved

Government 2.0 Taskforce is a group blog with open comments. Our copyright therefore has two parts:

Unless otherwise specified, posts are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution licence, Australian variant 2.5.

We do not hold copyright for comments,  however, except where we make it clear that other licensing arrangements are contemplated, your submission of content to this site is taken as an assertion by you that your own content falls under the same Creative Commons license as posts. If you have made a comment unaware of this policy and you are unhappy about it, please contact us and we can remove your comment from our system.

The Taskforce does not hold copyright for the Government 2.0 logo which was designed by Ben Crothers of Catch Media but as a condition of entry to the design competition, the creator of the logo consented to its use under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Use license Australian variant 2.5 .

Posted by Taskforce Secretariat on July 23, 2009
Tags: Uncategorized

Total comments on this page: 121

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simonfj on paragraph 12:

Perhaps you could broaden this to include ‘communication’ (somewhere). ICT has been accepted for some years now, and the (real time) C is always ignored. If you listen to people from global orgs like the world bank (mike foley at that questnet uri) most knowledge is tacit = people need to speak after they’ve read something.

July 27, 2009 6:29 am
Sherif :

I thought communication is already implied through “promote collaboration” – you have to communicate to collaborate.

August 23, 2009 12:26 pm
simonfj on paragraph 9:

The terminology which miight hep accelerate this is to begin to talk about Community Hubs (software producer’s speak) or Communities of Practice (world bank speak).

These will be the interfaces between institutions and their common publics. The only question is how long it might take for network managers and librarians to systemize their directory. (and put it at

July 27, 2009 6:36 am
simonfj on paragraph 36:


I think it’s called leadership. One only has to look at this taskforce’s member’s blogs, or not. Give Kate Lundy (and Pia) a gold star.

July 28, 2009 9:21 am
simonfj on paragraph 23:

I’m not so sure. Progressives and conservatives lurk everywhere in a society.

The greatest change comes about through “education” and “governance” and how we conceptualize the terms. If, as we talk today, everything is a service, to be delivered, then you can’t blame a bureaucrat for performing their old routines.

If we couch the terms as an enquiry, which must be completed (before it’s taken up again), then they might feel a great burden taken off their shoulders.

July 28, 2009 9:31 am
simonfj on paragraph 37:

To a degree. It’s about rigour, and I don’t mean about “developing a policy”, which is about a useful as educators talking about “developing a curriculum” these days.

I mean de rigeur = “necessary according to etiquette, protocol or fashion.”

July 28, 2009 9:57 am
Yvonne R Thompson on paragraph 23:

We sometimes forget that citizens and government should not be a master-slave relationship. Each needs the other: Good government and good policy depends on an informed citizenry.

When government is secretive and fears to share or expose its information to the public (lest it be criticized or fallibility exposed) then government reinforces its role as slave to an uninformed citizenry. The result is bad policy.

Forgive me an over-used bit of reality television jargon, but good policy development is journey that citizens and government must take together. The reality is, this rarely happens, and ‘consultation’ is notorious for being a cynical and artificial ruse.

Government policy-wonks leap in, do the hard yards, research and often produce some pretty good, well-informed policy. All too often they are blind-sided by some misdirected outrage or political maneuvering from the opposition.

This may all be a fun game of poke and jibe that’s served politicians well, particularly in an environment of a lazy and biased media, too many spin doctors and a penchant for opportunistic sound-bites. The result is often that years of good policy work are shelved because a couple pollies and a few talk back radio ferals exercized their larynxs.

I am of the view that trust with citizenry will only build slowly through sharing and exposing fallibility. This is what allows citizenms to begin to grapple with the cpomplexity that policy makers deal with every day. Education, real xcollaboration, and sharing of informationas well as sharing responsibility for hard decisions with citizenry makes the public a true partner, not a master.

The alternative is what we have now, which operates as an implicit contract of the type of a service level agreement, with citizens cast as unhappy customers, and government in the role of evil secretive service-provider out to rip people off.

Either we oputsource governmnet entirely (maybe India would do it less expensively?) or we forge a new kind of understanding. Government must take the first step, through the actions of the bureacracy, not through words or political announcements. This implies that bureaucrats must freed from the shackles of fear of political or other retribution that corrodes their initiative and innovation.

August 7, 2009 6:34 pm
Yvonne R Thompson on paragraph 27:

Lead by example.Eat the elephant one bite at a time.

The ‘culture’ is based on the fears of individuals (various, eg loss of control over the information threatens sense of job security…ie if other people know as much about this as me then I’m no longer needed; fear of getting in trouble for allowing access eg what might they use it for? will I be blamed if there is a mistake?).

Any strategy to change the culture must allow for overcoming fears by showing that information can be released in a safe way. That releasing the data doesn’t cost you your job, that rather you have more interesting feedback and the data gets better, is used by more people, and your job is more important not less.

Thus, find every opportunity in government to walk the walk. For example, identify some young leaders / innovators in government and get them actively blogging. Insert some web 2.0 ‘doers’ in government to start disclosing and show that it can be done and that the world does not collapse. Actively ferret out interesting data to release, and release it in a Web 2.0 environment that allows feedback to the data custodian.

August 7, 2009 6:47 pm
Kat Szuminska on paragraph 13:

Rather than ultimately aiming to give citizens a “insight into the policy making process and greater appreciation of the complexities of policy decisions” I would hope we’d be aiming to make the policy making process transparent in order to clarify policy decision making processes and simplify them where possible.

August 8, 2009 11:58 am
ben rogers on paragraph 68:

Hasn’t cost recovery as a concern been soundly debunked because of the economic benefits to the community at large? how is it possible to quibble of a few 10 of thousands of dollars to make data available when the potential benefits to the overall economy have been shown by the UK and US to be in the 10 of millions and more?

August 9, 2009 4:57 pm
ben rogers on paragraph 76:

I would say in answer to this question that when information provided for policy formulation by a department contradicts the govt’s policy decision that there is pressure on the APS to keep such information private.

August 9, 2009 5:01 pm
ben rogers on paragraph 85:

think there needs to be a recognition that some information would need to be digitised as well

August 9, 2009 6:34 pm
Colin Kemp on whole page :

The Community Technology Centres Association represents a network of not-for-profit community organisations in small rural, regional and remote communities scattered throughout NSW. For our member organisations, and the communities that use them, the issue is making sure that rural citizens are able to “join the conversation”.

The “digital divide” is a cliche now, but for us it is a very real thing, and not one but multiple layers of divides. Community Technolgy Centes are still putting numerous rural citizens in communities with no adult education providers, through beginners computer courses – teaching them how to double click and use a keyboard.

At the next level are people who use office and accounting software but have not learned to safely use the internet. Many rural people are restricted to dial-up access at home, so they have never fully engaged with the internet. Anecdotal evidence from our communities indicates a lack of “street wise” skepticism. Sites purporting to be “government” sources of information are perceived as safe and credible, and rural communities need a great deal more access to community education programs around privacy and credibility issues with the internet before they can safely engage with government.

Maintaining a core of accessible technical support skills in each community is another key Web 2.0 access issue.
There is a severe skills shortage in many rural communities of IT technicians capable of setting up internet connections and firewalls etc, and resolving virus and other infections. Community Technology Centres are often the only local source of technical support and advice for the public and small business.

There is now a third “divide” in use of Web 2.0 technologies, which in many cases depend on fast broadband without latency. In most of the communities we serve, the only option foreseeable in the medium term is publicly accessible broadband. The NBN project will not deliver broadband into rural communities for some time. Rural communities must breach divides one and two, and then have public access to fast broadband, before they can begin to participate. Leaving them out is a major equity issue, particularly as government moves more and more into delivery of community consultation through Web 2.0.

Community Technology Centres are the access centres that can facilitate rural communities engaging with new communication tools. The can enable rural citizens to connect with federal and state government online content and policy, and override the barriers that distance puts in the way of conversations. They can help close the several layers of divide between the digital haves and have nots.

CTCs are currently being supported by local advocates and volunteers within their communities. They need technology refreshing and significant federal funding to enable them to continue providing public access to broadband, and community education in how to engage with it, in order to support the Gov 2.0 initiatives. The alternative for government is to duplicate Web 2.0 channels in other mediums accessible by rural and regional communities, or risk disenfranchising rural communities.

August 12, 2009 4:30 pm
Silvia Pfeiffer on paragraph 186:

For video accessibility, there are many ways of providing captions and also audio annotations to content. I think the government is doing far too little on this today. For example the recently released Social Inclusion Website at provides videos and transcripts in text documents, but not captions that actually play at the same time as the video. This is not a difficult technical problem to solve, but needs to be made part of requirements for publishing video on government websites.

August 13, 2009 9:19 am
Bec on paragraph -1:

Before government can tackle web 2 responsively I feel the following needs to happen.

1. All of government including government business enterprises and statuary authorities need to take on more accountability for their websites in terms of accessibility and usability.
2. Someone more important than the agencies own web team should go speak with every government agency and tell them they must comply or they’ll be publicly shamed or pay a penalty.
3. Government agencies need to have competent people and access to the right resources. Some agencies have huge web teams while others have one person. This doesn’t mean they don’t have the money…
4. Usability testing should be mandatory at least twice a year and a usability test team should be made available for government agencies, including users with disabilities. This should include testing web 2 technologies.
5. Every government agency needs to remember why citizens come to their website. Usually, it’d be to access a service or obtain information.Web 2 technologies such as online chat can be useful for providing technical support as used by e-commerce websites. What I’m trying to say here is use the right web 2 technology for a useful purpose rather than for the sake of it or because it feeds the agencies ego instead of focusing on user needs.
6. Fear needs to end. If a user makes a negative comment, learn from why they are being negative and fix the problem and realize it can be an opportunity to provide re-assurance to others.
7. Government shouldn’t charge other agencies for re-using information or code. In fact, it should be encouraged. As for security issues, if something happens – just deal with it!
8. Vanity needs to end. When the Nation Building stimulus package was released, government did the right thing by putting a website together and getting agencies to link to it. However, I’d say many agencies did the wrong thing by confusing users and wasting time – instead of getting all the info they need off one site which covers what all aspects of government is doing, they had to go on an ego trip and put their own resources together just because they might impress some minister.
9. Government should allow non-government website owners to utilize web 2 technologies to bring in data from government websites.
10. Government should provide a number of templates and resources for agencies to use such as menus / navigation, photo galleries – which expands as new trends and better practice approaches are discovered. This would be helpful for agencies with little web resources. Identifying talented individuals from agencies and getting them to blog on techniques would be useful.
11. Be prepared to adapt. Trial different approaches on websites and learn what works well.

August 13, 2009 2:03 pm
Bec on paragraph -1:

I forgot to mention, also measure the return on investment. So many focus on the graphics and after spending thousands of dollars haven’t even tested users nor measured the success (or lack of) a website.

August 13, 2009 2:06 pm
Enid Bulman on paragraph 30:

The main obstacle to fostering a culture of online engagement within government is financial. Both in acquiring the hardware and software to allow this engagement and in providing sufficient staff time to engage!

I have witnessed government departments desperately wanting to open up user forums and blogs but knowing that in the government domain these need to be moderated – and not having the human resources to achieve this. The government workforce is struggling to cover its existing workload and there is just no “fat” left in the public service to take on new tasks.

August 13, 2009 5:08 pm
ben rogers on paragraph 12:

I think making govt information more accessible is an essential first step in moving toward gov2.0 – it will allow third parties to publish in easy to access ways the end products of govt policies – making it much easier to organise people to support/ advocate about issues – the data needs to be access via standard web/tech protocols and not locked up in reports – which provide a barrier to access in terms of republishing data.

August 15, 2009 3:05 pm
ben rogers on paragraph 23:

I concur with yvonne – get out there – fail early and fail often – and people will respect you more, then hiding behind a faux wall of omnipotence. The role of the opposition will change, becoming more useful – as it will be able to have greater say in policy development through collaborative efforts and input rather then us vs them – which question time seems to typify in all the worst ways

August 15, 2009 3:11 pm
Nick Lothian on paragraph 68:

Cost recovery should not be allowed as an excuse. Government data is paid for by taxes and so should be freely available.

August 15, 2009 8:04 pm
Nick Lothian on paragraph 77:

One set of data which is becoming increasingly important is geo-spatial data.

August 15, 2009 8:07 pm
Nick Lothian on paragraph 92:

Almost every dataset is going to need custom interpretation, and usually the time saved from using standardized metadata is quite low compared to the time spent analyzing it.

The Semantic Web is a great idea, but the costs associated with transforming data from whatever form it is in into RDF triples should never be used as an excuse to avoid making it available.

I believe that data should be made available as quickly as possible in whatever form in convenient, provided is is readable by freely available tools.

RDF triples, Custom XML dialects, CSV files and raw database dumps are all acceptable.

The value is in the data, and other people can easily convert it to other formats if needed.

August 15, 2009 8:22 pm
Trifle 1751 on paragraph 17:

1. the re-use industry is THE most important middle-man between Government and citizen. No citizen has time, money and experience to aggregate hundreds of public databases, even not in his local vicinity in order to establish a NAVIGATION application for his car. Thats the job of Navteq or Garmin and citizen may use that convenient service.

2. Government faces three major types of customers: re-use industry; the business sector; citizen. – Web 2.0 supports primarily the communication to and with the citizen, but does not provide substantial benefit for the first two target groups. No one in the business sector has time allocated to read thousands of pages and to aggregate databases. Therefore, the re-use industry comes in.

August 16, 2009 8:28 pm
Bec on paragraph 17:

Blogs are beneficial between citizen and government but wiki’s are great for use within government agencies to share information. Sadly, govdex isn’t a great example as in the real world every damn vain agency wants information within their own branding. Provide that option and govdex usage will increase within government.

More importantly though, start a wiki for government agency web teams to share templates, graphics, CSS, accessible versions of jquery etc. To encourage re-use of code and save time.

August 17, 2009 2:39 pm
David Williams on paragraph 31:

I don’t think that the imagination of the citizens needs capturing – they just need the opportunity to participate.

August 18, 2009 10:40 am
David Williams on paragraph 30:

I agree that there is minimal capacity left in many govt organizations to enable web 2.0 and so applaud the govt for freeing up resources for specific projects. The hardware and software costs are minimal and the infrastructure in many agencies is often sufficient. What we need to focus on is building the skills knowledge and experience of, not our IT people, but our service delivery and policy people. IM should become a core APS/EL competency and management of intellectual capital should be a component of the SES framework. All agencies have a CIO – but most of these are CTOs and focus on the infrastructure and applications. Few agencies have an information architect (CIO) to drive strategies for the management of the organization’s information.

August 18, 2009 10:49 am
David Williams on paragraph 54:

There was considerable discussion (and confusion) on copyright issues at the Canberra forum yesterday. This seems to be a bit of a storm in a teacup. After reading the copyright guidelines on the AGD site (again) which states “Copyright does not protect ideas or information as such but only the original expression of ideas or information” I think that the current arrangements are reasonably robust to cope with Gov 2.0 and we possibly just need to provide some good examples/case studies and guidance.

August 18, 2009 11:07 am
David Williams on paragraph 56:

There was considerable discussion (and confusion) on copyright issues at the Canberra forum yesterday. This seems to be a bit of a storm in a teacup. After reading the copyright guidelines on the AGD site (again) which states “Copyright does not protect ideas or information as such but only the original expression of ideas or information” I think that the current arrangements are reasonably robust to cope with Gov 2.0 and we possibly just need to provide some good examples/case studies and guidance. Charging for information is the big issue.

August 18, 2009 11:09 am
David Williams on paragraph 102:

Govt should be responsible for developing the marketplace (as it does for water and CO2) for govt information. This should include the necessary principles, rules, standards (metadata) registration, licensing?, platform, specs, training, advice, support, protocols, sanctions, etc.

August 18, 2009 11:15 am
David Williams on paragraph 114:

potential for a ‘garbage in, garbage out’ scenario. Haven’t we had enough of failed data warehouses? It would be good to see some examples of where this has delivered benefits.

August 18, 2009 11:18 am
David Williams on paragraph 123:

I am disappointed to hear that govt does not have a culture of compliance with information and records management policies and best practice. Surely the Archives Act should be brought to bear. I’m amazed that we have almost now forgotten the Palmer and Comrie reports and the impact they had on RM at Immigration!

August 18, 2009 11:24 am
Jose Robertson :

Under the Government Online Strategy, released April 2000, every Government agency was obliged to develop an online action plan and report on progress against their plan, however this reporting regime only continued until the end of 2001. An updated requirement for a Gov 2.0 action plan and associated reporting regime would put the pressure back on agencies to deliver against not only Gov 2.0 requirements, but the now almost 10-year-old obligations to deliver appropriate and accessible information and services, as well as to archive websites in compliance with NAA guidelines.

August 21, 2009 7:31 pm
David Williams on paragraph 216:

My observation is that innovation is a process and a capability that needs to be developed by an organisation. I particularly likek the quote by Dr Robin Wood ‘‘The single biggest missed opportunity for leaders of for-profit and non-profit organisations is the failure to capitalise on the collective genius of the people in their organisations and communities’.

Like any other organisational capability, it requires leadership, governance, resources, training, procedures and supporting technology. The greatest barrier to innovation in the APS is not providing people with permission to fail safely.

For innovation, we also need to look at the spaces we have people working in and how conducive that is to creative thinking and implementing good ideas.

We should also be looking at how we deal with complex challenges and not apply a strategy only suitable for complicated situations as implementing Gov 2.0 is a complex rather than complicated situation.

August 18, 2009 2:08 pm
David Williams on paragraph 224:

Innovation is a two part process – creative thinking and implementation of the idea. The governance and risk management should be applied at the implementation process (at business case development) not at the creative thinking process. See Winning through Innovation by Tushman and O’Rielly.

August 18, 2009 2:16 pm
David Williams on paragraph 123:

We have our most junior people working in RM in most organisations. It is not seen as a sexy as writing policy or even as service delivery and the only time that senior execs engage with records mgt is when the Harradine report came around or when we had to go to court or was subject to external review. RM is not seen as a value-adding activity and until we can ’sex it up’ and acknowledge the role RM can play, particularly within a ECM or business transaction space, we will continue to limit the scope of the return we could gain from our record keeping capabilities.

August 18, 2009 2:49 pm
xtfer on paragraph 90:

AGLS has been largely a failure. I’m not aware of ANY search service that uses is, and research by the CSIRO-developed Funnelback search (as used BY the Australian Government) showed that it reduced search accuracy when used.

Also AGLS, while expressable as RDF (which is good), is designed to be interpreted by Humans. Its not actually particularly useful.

For example, some of the spec mixes datatypes or uses for fields. A machine can’t make a decision in this case, only a person can, making AGLS problematic when used with RDF.

August 21, 2009 1:58 pm
Andrew Jakubowicz on paragraph 27:
August 21, 2009 1:59 pm
xtfer on paragraph 102:

The standards exist already… the Australian Government tries to reinvent standards more often than it should… mostly unsuccessfully.

August 21, 2009 2:00 pm
xtfer on paragraph 113:

Don’t forget JSON and RDF!

August 21, 2009 2:01 pm
Andrew Jakubowicz on paragraph 28:

Everything that government uses taxpayers’ funds to collect, create or produce should (subject to privacy) be available for public perusal. In particular government social research is enormously valuable for communities across Australia and should be easy to access and usefully framed.

August 21, 2009 2:02 pm
xtfer on paragraph 135:

One of the problem with large interlinked data sets is that they are almost NEVER complete.

But, the impetus for data to be timely conflicts with the desire for extensiveness.

August 21, 2009 2:07 pm
Andrew Jakubowicz on paragraph 31:

There has to be a real sense of value for investment – if I invest time in participating, I need to know that what I say will either trigger an action to remedy a wrong, or be seriously considered as an innovation in a policy if it’s backed up. I think arms length NGOs where government is a partner but not a controller should be considered. The ICD project (in collaboration with the Australian Human Rights Commission and with support of the Attorney General’s department points the way to the innovative use of web 2.0 with diverse communities. The ICD recognises it has to create value that will draw participation – both contributions and resource use. Government is good at allowing and supporting such work, not that great in doing it.

August 21, 2009 2:08 pm
xtfer on paragraph 142:

A government policy on use of Creative Commons and GPL-like licenses would be useful, as the current defaults of Commonwealth IP are not suitable.

August 21, 2009 2:08 pm
xtfer on paragraph 183:

What about using co-creation models, ideagora’s or peer creation? Let the community loose on an “open source” policy, using a collaborative process.

This doesn’t mean putting forward X ideas and asking them to be prioritised. This means asking the community to put forward the ideas, decide their importance, and form this into a workable policy. Difficult, yes. Impossible, no.

August 21, 2009 2:13 pm
xtfer on paragraph 217:

What about certifying or at least providing recommendations for the different platforms, FOSS software and other technologies that agencies can use? Perhaps through AGIMO.

August 21, 2009 2:16 pm
Jose Robertson on paragraph 17:

To quote Brant Trim, Manager of DEEWR’s Communication Delivery Branch, in a recent email to me, ‘You need to come see our xxxx. You can have it all’. Shorthand for ‘I’m willing and extremely happy to share with you any code for any services we’ve developed. This sort of offer shouldn’t be down to the generosity and community spirit of an individual, but should be a mandatory requirement of all Government agencies. The manner of the sharing, whether by a wiki or any other means, is kindof beside the point. It’s the fact that people have to do it somehow that really matters. This approach should extend across federal, state and local government juristictions, so that smaller-scale agencies can benefit from the R&D done by larger ones.

August 21, 2009 8:51 pm
Jose Robertson on paragraph 12:

Two major barriers to the reusabilty of government information are 1) the current copyright regime and 2) the propensity of government agencie to charge each other exorbitant fees for non-commercial access to digitised assets.

1. Recommendation 7 of the Attorney-General’s Digital Agenda Review: Report & Recommendations 2004 [] stated, with regard to Cultural Institutions, that ‘provided that the provision can be drafted in a technologically neutral way, and that no owners demonstrate, within the course of public consultation on the amendments, that their interests are likely to be adversely affected, sections 49 and 50 [of the Copyright Act] should be amended so as to allow low resolution reproductions of the whole of an artistic work to be copied and communicated, without infringing copyright’. This suggested amendment did not find its way into the Copyright Amendment Act 2006, but should perhaps be revisited, as more evidence mounts that the free availability of images online results in greater revenue being generated through image sales – evidenced by the Powerhouse Museum’s recent Flickr-related successes – a phenomenon that should benefit artists as much as institutions.

2. Every Government agency should stop charging every other Government agency for access to materials (save the basic costs of accessing the stuff in the first place, which in a digitised environment should be minimal) in order to massively increase the usefulness, useability and mashupability of assets nominally in the ownership of the people.

August 21, 2009 9:06 pm
Jose Robertson on paragraph 28:

The National Gallery of Australia adopted a Parallel Publishing Policy in 2005, making available free online all public information produced by the NGA (regardless of whether or not the NGA is selling a different version of the same information), recognising that, among other things:

1. this would echo the policy of allowing free physical access to all national cultural institutions
2. this would maximise the public utility of this information, by making it accessible to as many people as possible
3. staff and consultants who create information are funded by the taxpayer to do so
4. to restrict access to this information by charging an additional fee to gain access to it is artificially restrictive and ultimately inefficient
5. information produced by the NGA should be regarded as a ‘value-neutral’ commodity
6. the way the NGA packages information and the channels through which it is supplied ‘value-add’ to it, determining whether consumers are willing to pay for access to it (a la tap water vs bottle water)
7. the additional resources needed to repurpose information for the online medium are minimal, provided a coherent thoroughly thought through communications strategy is developed and complied with
8. information does not exist if it is not on the internet – ask any student.

This policy is a bit of an exemplar answering part of the question at para 28. In short, all information should be available in one form or another (e.g. images available free online at 72 dpi as well as available for an appropriate cost printed at 300 dpi). As to what might be made of it, as long as they’re acting within the law I’d just leave that to the people to decide…

August 21, 2009 9:27 pm
Jose Robertson on paragraph 30:

I would have to say that the major obstacle to date that has prevented the fostering a culture of online engagement within government is the inability of senior managers to engage with the online medium, to understand its importance, and to recognise how it can be utilised to create efficiencies. The amount of government money that has been spent on the online medium over the last 10 years has been phenomenal, but it hasn’t always been spent wisely… On the other side of the coin, so to speak, a lot of money has been spent on non-online activities that would have had far more positive public outcomes if directed toward the online medium.

August 21, 2009 9:36 pm
Jose Robertson on paragraph 31:

Opportunities like this one to comment on policy in the making and review the comments of others are a great step forward. More of this please. What I’d really like to see, also, is thoughtful and thorough explanations from government to the citizenry of why particular suggestions are not taken up, to close the feedback loop, as it were.

August 21, 2009 9:39 pm
Jose Robertson on paragraph 86:

In the realm of arts and culture, for instance, it is impossible for the public to view a digital representation of the vast majority of the collection assets of government institutions, due to 1) the costs involved in creating and managing these assets and 2) lack of competency within institutions. The creation of a centralised digitisation fund that agencies could bid for would encourage agencies to get their act together, and would assist in addressing the fact that there is always another worthy way to spend appropriations.

August 21, 2009 9:47 pm
Jose Robertson on paragraph 126:

Get over it. All printed information is inaccurate the moment it’s created. The advantage of the online medium is that information can be made progressively more accurate, in theory. A major issue is that the same editorial standards that are brought to bear on print publications are not necessarily put in place for the management of online information. This is a matter of culture change – not an overnight proposition… Oh, and, make sure you carry a good disclaimer…

August 21, 2009 9:57 pm
Jose Robertson :

And another thing… encourage the public to assist in the correction of incorrect information, by whatever technical means possible, as long as it’s easy and fun.

August 21, 2009 10:11 pm
Jose Robertson on paragraph 34:

Yes. Everyone talks about risk management and nobody much talks about opportunity management.

August 21, 2009 10:04 pm
Jose Robertson on paragraph 40:

Under Annex A of ‘Strategic priority 2: Ensure the enablers are in place’ of GovernmentOnline: The Commonwealth Government’s Online Strategy’ you’ll find the line ‘All new non-commercial publications released by a Minister or agency must be made available online concurrently with other forms of dissemination…’ One way to get more information out there would be to remove the words ‘non-commercial’ from this stipulation, and to create a definition of publication that addresses multiple media.

August 21, 2009 10:08 pm
Jose Robertson on paragraph 138:

This is plainly outrageous and indefensible, but not an isolated case by any means. In the area of arts and culture, for example, look how few institutions have made arrangements to contribute their collection datasets to the Collections Australia Network federated search. Government agencies should not be allowed to pick and choose in this way. Appropriations should be tied to demonstrable reporting of information transparency and transfer.

August 21, 2009 10:18 pm
Jose Robertson on paragraph 187:

Not sure if I understand the question, but basically there is no need to worry about parallel publishing information across multiple free and not-free platforms, as long as the not-free platforms don’t contain any information not available on the free ones…

August 21, 2009 10:21 pm
Jose Robertson on paragraph 200:

Hmmm, it seems to me that these days, if a group of people feel passionately about a subject, they’ll pretty much set up a way of communicating about it between themselves, while encouraging others to join in. A lot of government attempts to seed this sort of discussion are pretty naff, as they are often perfunctory, or not thought through. Maybe best if government were to spend most of its efforts monitoring independently-created forums to guage the level of community interest in a topic and/or learn something new, rather than feeling it had to invent and run them.

Otherwise, yes, the seed funding of an arms-length arrangement with an engaged and interested person or group can be highly beneficial, without the need to directly spend money on moderation, but on this topic, can we see some statistics on the amount of moderation necessary on the average forum? My guess is it’s actually pretty low most of the time, but that’s only a guess…

Otherwise, the self-censorship of a community seems to work pretty well in the case of Wikipedia, so maybe that is the model to follow…

August 21, 2009 10:31 pm
Jose Robertson on paragraph 220:

‘Strategy 6: Ensure the Integrity of Australian Online Cultural Content’ of the National Office for the Information Economy’s 1998 document ‘Responses to a strategic framework for the information economy’ states in part ‘Australian online cultural content creators and providers should be encouraged to employ comparable statistics packages for recording user activity within websites. Such packages could be developed in consultation the Australian Bureau of Statistics… Statutory authorities could be required to include standardised online statistics within annual and other reports’. If this approach were to be extended across all government agencies you might see some peer group pressure amongst CEOs, Secretaries and Directors being brought to bear on the thoughtful analysis, not just reporting, of such statistics.

August 21, 2009 11:04 pm
Jose Robertson on paragraph 220:

‘Strategy 6: Ensure the Integrity of Australian Online Cultural Content’ of the National Office for the Information Economy’s 1999 document ‘Responses to a strategic framework for the information economy’ states in part ‘Australian online cultural content creators and providers should be encouraged to employ comparable statistics packages for recording user activity within websites. Such packages could be developed in consultation the Australian Bureau of Statistics… Statutory authorities could be required to include standardised online statistics within annual and other reports.’ If such a recommendation were to be expanded to cover all government agencies it is possible that peer group pressure amongst CEOs, Secretaries and Directors would result in the thoughtful analysis, not just reporting, of such statistics.

August 21, 2009 11:08 pm
simonfj on paragraph 30:

Perhaps the greatest barrier is the idea that any initiative should be “within (a particular department or agency of) government”. The problem is that few departments collaborate in running user forums, which defeats their purpose. Enid points out that the will is there, and that there is a need for moderators.

Each deprtment has plenty of media people/secretariats who at present snow their common communities with PR, brochures & reports which are rarely delivered, less read. (Policy suggestion; Every web engagement must include (say) three agency’s media people)

Cultural change happens when an older generation begins to understand how the education of their (grand) children works. It’s not like it used to be. Theirs is an education through collaborative enquiry, which includes other classes and schools (departments and agencies). Delivering a report or writing a policy no longer works when there are so many to compare, globally.

Belief is an impossible obstacle to overcome. All you can do is provide good examples. Of course getting every Canberra public servant to live in another town for a year would work just as well. Either that or stop demanding that people in federal public service should attend the office every day.

August 22, 2009 3:35 pm
simonfj on paragraph 31:

One opportunity here is in introducing more linkages between “the box” and these kinds of online forums. Qanda & Insight type programmes are very popular. They fall down in that there is no systematic linkage between watching a TV/radio programme and being directed to the appropriate community’s online space.

But you’ll have to capture the imaginations of public servants to encourage participation. E.g. You know you can stream to the web live from Cisco’s teleprescence, when the taskforce is getting together, don’t you?

August 22, 2009 3:51 pm
simonfj on paragraph 37:

Sorry about the above. What I mean is that bureaucrats, like teachers, will be criticized regardlss of what kind of tools are used, particularly at a time when the choice is often driven by fashion = twitter is the latest. The easiest thing to do is put as many possible tools on domain, and let people drive the preference. Its messy, but democratic.

August 22, 2009 3:59 pm
simonfj on paragraph 35:

Failing to understand how gov works is one problem . Failing to make policy makers understand that their policy making is not the end of the cycle is another.

August 22, 2009 4:04 pm
simonfj on paragraph 40:

The cutler report is a good example of an inquiry getting close to what is possible. A few shortcomings.

1. Yes, something like a creative commons license needs to be applied.
2. The domain for an inquiry MUST NOT be hosted on an agency web site. It must have it’s own. This because it becomes an archive which may be used as a reference for a similar inquiry by another government later, or may encourage their inclusion. The domain name should be classified by a librarian so it can be discovered readily.
3. All submissions and related materials need to be archived at the site in order to retain context.

August 22, 2009 4:28 pm
simonfj on paragraph 43:

This cultural change is being driven by modern education practices and networks. This taskforce, as it contains no professional educators or aarnet engineers, is hampered a bit.

August 22, 2009 4:35 pm
simonfj on paragraph 60:

One aspect which is always left out of these inquiries is the (real time) Communication which must align with Information to make it clearer/understandable, and by which it is diseminated.
The World Bank makes this clear when they talk about their global Communities of Practice. “If I read something, i want to contact the writer”.

International access and use cannot occur untlil Information Networks revolve around National and Global Communities of Practice, and Communication networks are aligned with them. This is not a policy issue. it is an engineering issue.

August 22, 2009 4:45 pm
simonfj on paragraph 71:

Policy should apply to any publically funded organisation/authority. It might be useful to compare the education and government sectors here as both have the same ends in mind. Just as most uni insist that their authors must publish in an open access repository, so should PS. No policy will help their institutions catch up with their commnities new social habits of course. But it may enable them to be more relevant.

August 22, 2009 4:54 pm
simonfj on paragraph 77:

Another way of asking this (of people like Nick) might be. What information, if made freely available, would enable you to make (silos of) information more accessible/understandable = build new services?

August 22, 2009 5:02 pm
simonfj on paragraph 78:

1. New information/entertainment/education services will be built.

August 22, 2009 5:04 pm
simonfj on paragraph 80:

David makes the points, so I won’t repeat them. Policy can never effect change. It is an attempt to describe how it might be handled. “Words can never describe the speed in change of meaning that words describe”. E.g. Service to anyone under 30 means self service.

Leadership comes by helping to “educate our leaders”, which we can see as Pia assists Sen. Lundy. We need more Pia’s.

The main principle demanded these days is “Inclusive”, which the taskforce might attempt by always streaming their (cisco donated) conversations or making notes on this blog while they’re on the road. Blog rather than email.

The hardest part, particularly with the web, is to believe that there might be a person, with solution which can solve a problem, if only their secretariat would ask. And often they won’t charge anything. For governments like we have in this country, which have been reduced to being funding agents and accountants, it will take time.

August 22, 2009 5:30 pm
simonfj on paragraph 81:

Absolutely. Although there is one technical aspect which must be in place before the “service delivery” culture can change. An SSO, or unified ‘presence’, which is common to insiders and outsiders, and offers equal degrees (levels) of access (to and domains’ (tools and info) is the basis of ‘cloud’ network architcture. Without it, governments and their agencies, authorities, etc are reduced to being delivery men.

August 22, 2009 5:53 pm
simonfj on paragraph 84:

The challenge is not just to make information available but to make it useful, and that’s in th eye of the beholder/researcher. The easist way is just to put it up with the disclaimer that “should it infringe your copyright, please inform us so we can take it down”. Experience shows that’s rare.

August 22, 2009 5:58 pm
simonfj on paragraph 85:

Ask the National library.

August 22, 2009 6:00 pm
simonfj on paragraph 88:

This is definition gives the wrong impression. The semantic web is a vision of information that is understandable by computers, so that they can perform more of the tedious work involved in finding, sharing, and combining information on the web”. It’s use has never been proved in a wide scale adoption. It may turn out to be a waste of time for government.

Metadata is simply a way to describe data and give it a context.

August 22, 2009 6:33 pm
simonfj on paragraph 106:

Collaborate, Cooperate. No real differences, apart from the access to an IP address, and who gets to do the tool configurtion, moderation and spring cleaning of course.

It’s not possible, on a wide ranging (across domains) and sytematic basis, unless the domains share a common sign in, preferably with two layers of authentication – one for everyone = an open ID, and one for trusted insiders (tool assemblers and moderators).
Wikipedia shows what happens with completely open global access (and a vision). And then you have the old network managers perspective.

August 23, 2009 8:34 am
simonfj on paragraph 107:

True, But to work (easily), particularly for gov where records must be scrupulous, it needs a record of every re(mix) = the history tab on a Wikipedia article.

It also needs, particularly if one considers captures and mixes done in real time, an understanding of the quality of service between domains.

August 23, 2009 8:39 am
simonfj on paragraph 108:

I’m not quite sure, by my interpretation of the network effect, and it’s change, could be illustrated by streaming the task force’s meeting to a “live” page on this domain. This changes the focus from individuals using a (videoconferencing) tool to a domain where the real action takes place. It also changes the focus of a community’s archive from some box = IP address = (usually) hidden inside an institution to the one (usually) used by communites which span institutions, and broadcasts.

August 23, 2009 8:45 am
simonfj on paragraph 109:

The perpetual beta affect for government comes down to accepting a that the domain’s archive must be considered from the outset. Thousands of similar projects funded by .gov’s around the world (in both their edu and gov domains) get buried in some funding institution’s (SINGLE LANGUAGE) archiveS after their funding has run out. Many are buried in National libraries, in directories like Pandora.

This old habit of treating digital assets like physical ones, and moving them from a real time site to a dead one, is not perpetual beta. It’s reinventing the wheel, perpetually.

August 23, 2009 8:53 am
simonfj on paragraph 116:

It’s called evaluation by the world bank, and if the redress if hived of to a specialist department, it inflates into a report writer.

As long as it’s kept small. i.e. every domain has a redress, then it can work because the info issuer becomes aware of a problem, and can nip it in the bud.

August 23, 2009 8:59 am
simonfj on paragraph 119:

The aim is to make the escalation process transparent and trackable, and web is excellent for this.

August 23, 2009 9:01 am
simonfj on paragraph 119:

Probably the easiest way is to take a snapshot on some agreed timely basis and back it into a national library or archive directory.

August 23, 2009 9:04 am
simonfj on paragraph 122:

Couldn’t you just get the National Archive to take a global snapshot ot the domain once per month. a la Internet Archive. And build some tools to recognize non compliance.

Of course you’d also have to make sure the National achive site didn’t go down (globally) as it did last week.

August 23, 2009 9:10 am
simonfj on paragraph 125:

It’s amazing how fast these kinds of concerns evaporate when an edict goes out to “get it ALL out there”. The hoarders scream and cry, the perfectionists despair, and the community usually says, “hmm, there’s something to be improved here”, and gets to work.

August 23, 2009 9:16 am
simonfj on paragraph 124:

The hardest thing is that the content of domains constantly change. The idea of a persistant identifier seems to be constantly ignored.

With interactive stuff it’s about keeping things in the context in which they were created. That’s why it might more sense to reclassify inquiries under a bibliographic system (e.g. using the dewey code we might have a domain classified as, which can be shared and reused for similar inquiries.

August 23, 2009 9:27 am
simonfj on paragraph 126:

What he said

August 23, 2009 9:28 am
simonfj on paragraph 131:

The point here is that there is no ONE market. There are only progressives and conservatives who gather around (code and) information. The progressives trust no one and jump in. The conservatives buy ‘products’.

August 23, 2009 9:47 am
simonfj on paragraph 132:

This goes back to the idea of perpetual beta. In an industrial time, physical stuff was designed and manufactured. In the early stages one could have any colour of Ford = black. These days we have products with ‘value added’ elements, which are added to justify a research teams costs, and few understand what’s available.

In an information context we are all overloaded by connection, and governments produce referenced products (usaully based on other gov’s reports) which are revisions of what has already transpired. Although they are usually beautifully printed, or uploaded in a pre print format = an anachronism to behold.

August 23, 2009 9:58 am
simonfj on paragraph 133:

This rarely has a great deal to do with Information. It has to do with how students are educated, and how an (sometimes) older, and always conservative, generation finds it hard to adapt to a changing culture. It also has to do with what happens when public servants are separated from their community – they become functionaries who have no understanding of their actions. Making policy becomes their singular job.

The deaths from the victorian bushfires had little to do with ‘lack of, or imperfect, information’. It had to do with how poorly educated people were misled to believe that, because ‘their’ institutions provide professional sevices, their functioning management might have (the time to take) an interest in their personal welfare.

The problem here is lack of communication (infrastructure) between communities. That is never spoken about

August 23, 2009 10:17 am
simonfj on paragraph 134:

It’s really impossible to define this reasonably; there being too many variables.

August 23, 2009 10:23 am
simonfj on paragraph 135:

Again; perpetual beta.

The point aim is to make a public servant (student) feel a part of the (National and Global) community of practice and to include a community of interest around the construction of a datset, and its linkages.

You know, like a wikipedia, or this inquiry.

August 23, 2009 10:28 am
simonfj on paragraph 138:

Amazing! The Empire of Toilets.

As Jose says, “they” should contribute to “our” search. I’m sure the National library would say the same to their empire.
We had the same discussion with many of the GLAMs at the conference about getting them to open up their empires.

August 23, 2009 11:15 am
simonfj on paragraph 141:

Sometype of CC license on every database is the key, if only because it gets the hoarders to understand the new culture.

But perhaps some measure of how often their databases are accessed is important, not only to encourage a little competition, but also to recognise that there is a cost involved in providing for lots of downloads. It might even get them thinking that It might make sense to allow different providers to “mirror” their site. i.e. reduce this cost.

August 23, 2009 11:21 am
simonfj on paragraph 142:

Yep this is the obvious way. We had the same conclusions made at the GLAM conference.

It might be good to encourage agencies by keeping a totalling list of downloaded files. This would not only encourage a little competition, but also recognise that their is a cost invloved by being successful. And that will lead through to conversations about “mirroring” their sites in different parts of the world.

August 23, 2009 11:29 am
simonfj on paragraph 142:

Re, the last question.
You’ll find that this comes down to including agencies in this inquiry. While all the talk is about information, the real key is using web technology to share the ‘real time’ communication, and streaming and recording it, and drawing the responses to this domain.
It doesn’t seem to have occurred to anyone that (IP) voice (and IP videoconferencing, etc) is just data. What we are trying to do here is align IP information networks with IP communication networks on behalf of National and global communities.

August 23, 2009 11:36 am
simonfj on paragraph 147:

You’ll find that this would work a treat, especially if you ran it in conjunction with agencies like the Empire of the Toilets.

All most of these conservatives appear to want is for someone to take the “risk” away.

August 23, 2009 11:40 am
simonfj on paragraph 150:

This comes down to the idea of a SSO for every (Australian) citizen. Every access to info by an Australian presence should be free.

If a development is hosted on an Australian network it should be cheaper cost (to the provider) than hosting on a foreign network.

The real impact here will tend to come ( I believe), not by the supply of info, but by the provision of inquiries which compare datasets, techniques, etc (in real time) between countries. In other words the real opportunity is in hosting the global communities which already attempt to help their state and nation bound bureaucrats stay abreast of the times.

August 23, 2009 11:49 am
Sherif on paragraph 27:

I think a great example of this is what is already being done by the OpenAustralia foundation with

August 23, 2009 12:29 pm
simonfj on paragraph 159:

Most of the open and global info initiatives = flickr, photobucket, wikipedia, as well as social sites like facebook and baidu have the same limitation of language. So “interoperability” (in the technical sense) doesn’t really have a great impact initially. Multilingualists are in huge demand as one can’t talk about inteoperability in different languages.

That’s why senior project oficers who run these kind of events have to speak at least 4 languages. I can’t imagine an Australian taskforce being up to the task.

August 23, 2009 2:02 pm
simonfj on paragraph 161:

This question misses the point to web 2. It shows that the questioner doesn’t “get it”.

Their is no “best practice” on the web. The web is about diversity, and the practices are as varied as the apps available.

The question should read, “how, when an approach ‘works’ can we spread the word without interupting busy institutions?” How can we assist the stratagists in silos to share the development of their strategies?

August 23, 2009 2:10 pm
simonfj on paragraph 164:

It’s called cultivating a community of practice, so that it might attract communities of interest, which is made impossible if ‘highly distributed networks of knowledge’ are conceptualized in terms of “benefits to gov”.

Government is just one ’sector’ of a nation. It’s preparation takes place in a sector called education, and in Australia this is packaged into products for consumption. This is great for well entrenched sciences. But considering one in three jobs that will exist in (say) 5 years time can’t be taught, it’s an antiquated model preparing people for factories, which have been exported. Education is the main driver (or not) of this change, and Australia hasn’t even a National Reseach and Education Network just yet. (outside 39 unis)

August 23, 2009 2:23 pm
simonfj on paragraph 165:

Sounds like it written to explain the writer’s prejudices and display their isolation. Obviously no one who has an understanding of community – online or off line – would write a phrase “identify themselves before engaging with collaborative technologies”. Technologies are just tools, so one doesn’t enagage with them. They just use them to ‘garner trust and confidence’. And if one can’t, or people aren’t interesting or interested, then one just ignores them.

Embedding good privacy practice is quite easy. “Go away”.

August 23, 2009 2:30 pm
simonfj on paragraph 166:

“a much richer mix of spaces”. I guess this writer has been reading about “rich multimedia” so yes.

The hardest part is opening a forum, for people with a particular interest, outside an institutional space, and then getting moderators from different agencies to collaborate in it.

August 23, 2009 2:34 pm
simonfj on paragraph 168:

I can honestly say, none exist yet, as far as i compare a wikimedia culture to three layers of remote government agencies in Australia.
It was nice to see wikimedians, particularly the ones from san fran and berlin, introduce themselves to people from GLAMs (galleries, libraries, Archive and museums) who mostly reside in the country town culture of Canberra, and their ideas ideas of their very different worlds.

Pia (sen lundy’s media person) is one who seems to strap together a few web 2.0 tools in a useful manner, on a shoestring. And she’s the only one in Canberra, after living in syd for 10 years. Apart from Rose, the englishwomen who heads up the National Libraries news digitisation site (that has attracted 5,000 volunteers).

I won’t be critical of this taskforce’s secretariat, as it’s no fair to ask people with no experience of a different culture to understand it. But i can say this; if the tools and new culture don’t make it MUCH easier and enjoyable for a bureaucrat to do their job, then forget it.

And if their leaders insist on using shoeleather instead of (in addition to) using the tools to be more inclusive, they aren’t giving a good example.

There’s no ‘improvement’ to be made here. Cultures can’t be improved. One can only attempt to be understand them. Any tool will do as long as there’s an interest in both directions.

August 23, 2009 2:59 pm
simonfj on paragraph 170:

That’s true, primarily for older people. But for the younger people it’s a matter of giving them a space to play in, and sometimes go to lessons. I really had hoped might have been such a (log in ) to various .edu spaces (K to u3A) . But as you can see, it was reduced to being a silo for ‘professional educators’, in the same way govdex has turned into a playground for ‘professional public servants’.

But yes, it’s called outreach, and it lots of hard work.

August 23, 2009 3:05 pm
simonfj on paragraph 171:

If this means different communities prefer to use different tools, and combinations of, then yes. That’s whi I always suggest an inquiry puts lots of combinations up. You’ve got a blog, this comment press, goodoh!So far you’ve only got a few comments on this tool. But if you were to leave this comment press up and open all the time, then you’ll being to get into the ‘perpetual beta’ mode, and people could get into the new swing of things. And the ones that aren’t used get canned.

August 23, 2009 3:14 pm
simonfj on paragraph 175:

I’ll make a point on this one as the change in principle, as the web evolves, is from publish to collaborate. In video this means from produce to capture. This seems to be maturing in the .edu space now. I will only suggest that when you have a meeting then stream and capture (record) it, while taking emailed suggestion, and don’t put it on another site like youtube. Stream and playback from the same point on the same page of this site. And the networks will change by default. The are a bunch of technical developments which are yet to take place which will mean the real time comms and info of a community will come togther.

August 23, 2009 3:24 pm
simonfj on paragraph 178:

One someone’s in the swing then yes, let’s encourage them. That’s why I’m suggesting it’s better to aggregate ‘related inquiries’ into one domain, which is shared by moderators from different agencies.
Most inquiries have limited terms of reference, which restrict any innovation, primarily because innovation comes up from the space between subjects (or sciences). It also helps the silo bound learn from one another, share the load, and collaborate, which is fun & time saving. This IS the new culture.

August 23, 2009 3:42 pm
simonfj on paragraph 182:

They will. There’s no doubt. But all this is saying is that people prefer different kinds of media as wel as different types of online tools. These days most people under (say) 25 are like pigs in mud; for the over 50’s it’s often just mud.
We’ll never replace face to face hopefully, and qanda has introduced a broadcasters approach. The only thing is to have a programme in place to start, which employs some people with very different skill sets, and emcompass all media kinds and types. As long as this is done in an initiative undertaken by at least three agencies, then it shouldn’t be too hard to handle.

August 23, 2009 3:50 pm
simonfj on paragraph 183:

Easy. Do the broadcast circuit first. qanda or insight, a few radio programmes, a few newspaper articles (NOT ads). And point them all at a online environment manned by people from three agencies, who have committed to running three (related) inquiries over some timeframe. And then do something unheard of in; talk to them, on a personal basis.

August 23, 2009 3:54 pm
simonfj on paragraph 184:

People will trust in a domain with on the end. This is where an SSO comes into its own. The usual reassurances apply (your email wil never be diisclosed). But i heard most of the excuses for not partcipating. They usually come down to “why bother, nobody listens”.

August 23, 2009 3:59 pm
simonfj on paragraph 186:

I agree. But this is only because producers often don’t know how to do something (easily). The bar will only be lifted by those who know (and are included).

August 23, 2009 4:02 pm
simonfj on paragraph 187:

I would have thought the thing to do would have been to take all the best ideas and build a platform for the domain.

If ‘gov’ (whoever he/she is) wants to do a little outreach and consult around the global traps, that fine. That’s just cheap promotion and a good thing to do. But of we are serious, then we need to build an archive of stuff in a context, so you’l need to RSS back to the (official) ‘inquiry space’ in the domain.

August 23, 2009 4:13 pm
simonfj on paragraph 217:

The policy should be that no single agency should run an online engagement space. No online engagement space should be hosted on an agency’s web site.

August 23, 2009 4:29 pm
simonfj on paragraph 214:

Most australian citizens are unused to being able to engage with ‘their’ government in any way; consultation ‘blogs’ (if we must dumb it right down) are just another way that they might (not).

August 23, 2009 4:45 pm
Jose Robertson on paragraph 220:

‘Strategy 6: Ensure the Integrity of Australian Online Cultural Content’ of the National Office for the Information Economy’s 1999 document ‘Responses to a strategic framework for the information economy’ states in part ‘Statutory authorities could be required to include standardised online statistics within annual and other reports … The analysis of statistics so gathered would enable more rigorous and adaptable planning to take place at all levels.’

August 24, 2009 4:35 am
Jose Robertson on paragraph 13:

It is all very well to talk about the importance of Web 2.0 as a means of improving communication between governments and citizenry, but there are still basic Web 1.0 communication activities that government gets wrong. For instance, my best guess as to the number of replies I get to emails sent to government agencies is about 1 in 5. Even when one receives an email in reply it will often state, ’someone will contact you soon to discuss this matter’ and they never do. There must be more accountability in this area. My perception is that too often there is one testy, disgruntled, lazy or disaffected individual in charge of receiving general email feedback, with their finger poised over the ‘Delete’ button. Service charters for replying to emails must be both equivalent to those for the receipt of paper-based feedback and actually complied with.

August 24, 2009 5:16 am
Jose Robertson on paragraph 12:

In terms of collaboration across agencies, 2 initiatives first proposed 10 years ago might now find a more receptive environment.

1) ArtsCast was proposed as a cross-agency video-on-demand service, delivered across all digital channels, but couldn’t attract seed funding from governnment, despite the enthusiasm of a number of cultural agencies for it. The ABC has now built the technology (iView). Rather than just having to rely on YouTube or individual agency sites to obtain video content, citizens should be able to surf a video portal using consistent (high) standards of encoding and delivery. It would give the government a range of video content to deliver down the fat pipes of the near future.

2) ArtsShop was proposed s a cross-agency online shopping mall, but couldn’t attract seed funding from government, despite the enthusiasm of a number of cultural agencies for it. Its implemenation could conceivably generate higher revenue for agencies through the sale of for-profit physical content, offsetting some costs involved in providing not-for-profit digital content.

August 24, 2009 8:51 am
Ray Collins on paragraph 13:

I think you are missing the target for collaboration here. Government agencies may draft policies but the Government of the day i.e. the politicians decide the policies. In Australia my primary path to policy decisions is my local member or the appropriate minister; it isn’t a Government department or agency. The politicians are supposed to represent my view and to take the views of their constituents into account when forming policy.

So the questions should be

1.How is Web 2.0 going to help me interact with my representatives in the parliament?

2. How is Web 2.0 going to help me obtain services from Government agencies?

August 26, 2009 2:57 pm
Amelia Loye on paragraph 35:

If we are to take these mediums seriously as engagement methods for policy development we must develop processes/systems to record, analyse and report information gathered in a format useful for policy writers.
This information also needs to be correlated with feedback gathered through complimentary engagement methods if a cross section of viewpoints are to be considered.

December 10, 2009 5:42 am
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