Government 2.0 Taskforce http://gov2.net.au Design by Ben Crothers of Catch Media Tue, 04 May 2010 23:55:29 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.8.6 en hourly 1 The last post: now for the main event – you! http://gov2.net.au/blog/2010/05/05/the-last-post-now-for-the-main-event-you/ http://gov2.net.au/blog/2010/05/05/the-last-post-now-for-the-main-event-you/#comments Tue, 04 May 2010 23:55:12 +0000 Nicholas Gruen http://gov2.net.au/?p=1908 Your Global Village Needs You! by The_Donald.

Photo by Limbic used under Creative Commons

This post also appears on the AGIMO blog, where you are able to contribute comments and continue the conversation.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, that’s about it from us. We laboured hard, but less long than some similar exercises and came up with a report of which I think we were all proud. Now, at least if I can speak for myself, I think the government response has shown that it was worthwhile. Very significant progress has been made in the government’s response to our report.

Though I must confess as an outsider, it seemed just plain commonsense, when we started the Taskforce almost no government documents had been licensed ‘creative commons’ (CC). Now the government has accepted our recommendation that CC be the default, and indeed that the default be one of the most permissive licences CC-BY which allows complete freedom to reproduce, and remix subject only to the acknowledgement of the original source.

So having advocated what I used to see as no more than a small commonsensical change, I’m pleased to see that it’s been adopted, with the response to the Government 2.0 Taskforce being one of the first cabs off the rank to be licensed CC-BY. Australia will be one of the first governments in the world with such a policy. For me the change is also emblematic of the bigger picture. For the last few months journalists have asked me questions which have assumed that the ‘big day’ was the day of the announcement.

Throughout I’ve remained unperturbed about the announcement, not because it doesn’t matter, but because all those at the top can do is to do their best to embrace the possibilities of Government 2.0, to try to actively facilitate it, including, where appropriate, get out of the way. The announcements we have are exciting. Our recommendations were fairly uncompromising, and the government has adopted all the most important ones.

But, and I would have been saying this no matter what the decisions were, what really matters is what happens now.  Because Government 2.0 is ultimately about what individual agencies, and yes, individual public servants do to make it happen.  Before them lies a vast field of promise, but one that is still new. It won’t always be easy to work out ways of being more open, more candid, more participatory at the same time as being just as professional and apolitical as public servants have always been expected to be. (Especially when the media, and those whose job it is to point to inadequacies in the government’s performance, lie in wait every hour of the week for the thrill of some slip-up or embarrassment whether imagined, or otherwise.)

But we’ve been going about the job for a little while now and there are lots of experiments underway, many of which are already proving their success.  One of the things I took most pride in was the enthusiasm with with the International Reference Group we’d managed to sign up, responded to the report. They were kind enough to record some of their comments on our blog and and we were immodest enough to record some of them in Chapter Seven of our report.

Gartner’s Andrea DiMaio gave us an ‘A’ and second top billing in his list of ‘bests’ for Government 2.0  in 2010. I think an important reason he did is because we foregrounded the role of public servants in Government 2.0 (to whom he gave top billing!).  That just underscores the fact that, along with open data, specific projects and the way public servants engage online with the Australian community are the building blocks of Government 2.0.

In presentations I’ve occasionally likened our situation to the situation at the birth of the rise in modern science. Modern science began as a secretive military affair (Leonardo spent quite a bit of his time designing weapons and fortifications!) and then things gradually changed. As Michael Neilsen explained recently on his blog – we tried to get him for the International Reference Group but he was too busy on his forthcoming book Reinventing Discovery :( -

[W]hen Galileo first observed what would later be recognized as Saturn’s rings, he sent an anagram to the astronomer Kepler so that if Kepler (or anyone else) later made the same discovery, Galileo could disclose the anagram and claim the credit. Such secretive behaviour was common at the time, and other scientists such as Huygens and Hooke also used devices such as anagrams to “publish” their discoveries. Many scientists waited decades before genuine publication, if they published at all. What changed this situation – the first open science revolution – was the gradual establishment of a link between the act of publishing a scientific discovery and the scientist’s prospects for employment. This establishment of scientific papers as a reputational currency gave scientists an incentive to share their knowledge. Today, we take this reputational currency for granted, yet it was painstakingly developed over a period of many decades in the 17th and 18th centuries. During that time community norms around authorship, citation, and attribution were slowly worked out by the scientific community.

Neilsen observes that a similar process of opening is beginning to transform science again today. And it’s also starting to emerge in Government 2.0. Because if your agency comes up with a great project, it won’t just get accolades from within your own service.  There’s a good chance that it will excite others around the world, as the NZ Police Force discovered when they hoisted the draft of the new Police Act up on a wiki to see what the community had to contribute.  After some anxious moments our own Craig Thomler is having his own contributions recognised not just in Australia but internationally. And thus the incentives on individuals are starting to align with the common good – as they do as markets become deeper and more competitive.  This is all part of the new world made possible by Web 2.0 which enables people to find others who are doing great things.

And in the process of creating the incredible possibilities that it has, Web 2.0 is also starting to supply some of the incentives for individual actors, whether at the agency or individual level which can underpin the growth of Government 2.0. Not only does the transparency of Web 2.0 make poor performance more difficult, it helps lift up the best.

So now our formal role has well and truly concluded. On behalf of the Taskforce, let me thank the government for giving us the opportunity to participate, and now for delivering such a substantial response to our report.  But more important still let me wish those who will deliver Government 2.0, individual agencies, public servants and of course those in the community who will collaborate with them, the Taskforce’s very best wishes.  It always was the case, but now, even more so, it’s all up to you.

]]>
http://gov2.net.au/blog/2010/05/05/the-last-post-now-for-the-main-event-you/feed/ 0
Response to the Government 2.0 Report http://gov2.net.au/blog/2010/05/03/response-to-the-government-2-0-report/ http://gov2.net.au/blog/2010/05/03/response-to-the-government-2-0-report/#comments Mon, 03 May 2010 03:38:16 +0000 Lindsay Tanner http://gov2.net.au/?p=1767 In June last year, this site was launched with a video from Dr Nicholas Gruen and myself announcing the creation of the Government 2.0 Taskforce. Today I am pleased to be able to close this first phase of the Australian Government’s foray into the area of Web 2.0 by releasing the Rudd Government’s response to the Taskforce’s report.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

]]>
http://gov2.net.au/blog/2010/05/03/response-to-the-government-2-0-report/feed/ 0
Guest Post: The Victorian Department of Justice and Web 2.0 http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/31/guest-post-the-victorian-department-of-justice-and-web-2-0/ http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/31/guest-post-the-victorian-department-of-justice-and-web-2-0/#comments Thu, 31 Dec 2009 01:55:53 +0000 Nicholas Gruen http://gov2.net.au/?p=1750 Darren Whitelaw is what I call a public sector entrepreneur – which means nothing more nor less than that he’s someone tries to get things done including new things. He’s with the Department of Justice in Victoria and is very active in Government 2.0 in that state. I suggested to him through Patrick McCormick who is similarly a public sector entrepreneur and recently moved to Justice that a guest post on what the Department had been up to would be welcomed. And so here is his post.

A journey of discovery

The Gov2.0 Taskforce’s final report provides a compelling roadmap for the Australian public sector’s future online journey and contributes new insights and ideas to the global Gov 2.0 conversation. As online service delivery becomes commonplace, and citizen expectations for more efficient and effective public services increase, the role of Web 2.0 in government cannot be underestimated.

The challenge for the public sector, much like the private sector, is not only to make use of these emerging technologies, but also to ensure there is the cultural change to support them. Victoria’s Justice Department has been using various Web 2.0 technologies over the past 18 months – to help respond to Black Saturday bushfires, reduce the impact of problem gambling, tackle excessive drinking, show public support for emergency service volunteers, help people assess their level of fire season readiness, and demonstrate transparency around speed cameras. These efforts have delivered tangible benefits but it hasn’t always been a smooth journey.

We’ve learnt that adoption of community collaboration takes time. Creating online communities built on credibility and trust is a big job, one that involves tinkering, listening, revising and trying again. It’s more a slow burn, than an explosion. And if we are going to fail, it’s best to fail small and fast, so we can adapt and try again. It’s an iterative process.

I can think of three things that have been instrumental to this journey:

1) Provide access to information
2) Enable user-generated content
3) Go where people are

Provide access to information

The horrific bushfires that swept Victoria in February 2009 placed immense pressure on our emergency services. Not only in fighting fires, dispatching equipment and personnel, but in responding to the public’s thirst for information. To help alleviate pressure, we responded by developing a widget (now decommissioned) to provide easy access to latest news, info and pictures about the crisis. This was built using a white-label software solution, spread virally, and used RSS, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. Only around 130 people installed the widget on their social networking page, but that small base led to more than 80,000 unique views, and more than 26,000 people interacting with it. Not too bad for our first attempt, I reckon.

In August 2008, we launched a new website that mapped the location of all the fixed speed and red light cameras in Victoria. The site also included evidence demonstrating when each camera had last been calibrated and tested, as well as telling motorists with a good driving record how they could apply to have their fine revoked with an official warning.

There’s a major overhaul planned for early 2010, this time using Google Maps to display the camera locations. A lot of effort has gone into busting many of the myths around speed enforcement, driving safety and traffic cameras – recognising people want credible, authoritative information on topics of interest to them – and if we don’t fill that void, others will.

Enable user-generated content

Another path we took on our Web 2.0 journey was user-generated content. Our first attempt was earlier this year on a revamped website designed to help problem gamblers. Along with the usual information to help gamblers and their loved ones, the site gave people the chance to share their stories. Despite a slow start, there have been some really positive and emotional stories.

User-generated content was key to our campaign to give people the chance to show their support for Victoria’s emergency services volunteers. A modern-day twist on an old-fashioned letter writing campaign, instead of dumping a mail bag full of correspondence on a desk, we got people to stick a virtual post-it note on a wall of thanks. This campaign leveraged the benefits of microblogging (contributors were limited to 250 characters) making it quick, and easy, for people to say thanks and also learn about the kind of person it takes to be an emergency services volunteer. Visitors to the site also had the chance to create a blog, post longer messages, and upload photos.

To date, there have been 556 messages of support, and nearly 20,000 people have visited. I encourage you to check out the site
and scroll through the message wall – the posts are inspiring and really show the level of heartfelt appreciation in the community.

Go where people are

The volunteer campaign showed us how important it was to go where the crowds gather. We had a healthy interest in the microblogging message site, and the biggest success was on Facebook, where more than 9,000 people have shown their support by joining the fan page. Hundreds have also taken part in a conversation about how valued our volunteers are by leaving messages on the wall. Twitter users were also quick to show their support, and stay up-to-date with emergency volunteer news, with 1,206 followers to date.

Facebook is also being used to help spread the fire ready message in preparation for this summer. An app has been developed, as a quick test for homeowners and others in fire-prone areas to gauge their level of preparedness. The idea is to raise awareness, then get people to go to the CFA website to complete the detailed self-assessment.

The success of Facebook and Twitter has shown us how important it is for public services to move out from behind our websites and to go to where the people are.

So where to from here?

So what have we learnt? New paths along unfamiliar territory are unlikely to be smooth and trouble-free. That’s why it is vital to be agile and flexible, so failures will be both small and short. It’s also important to tinker first, to always keep listening, to continually revise, and when you’re done, go back and try again.

Perhaps the first step is tackling the biggest barrier: cultural change. The key to accepting Web 2.0 within government relies on a cultural change within the public service itself, rather than a change within technology.

Government’s traditional role-based authority can only get us so far. The input of communities, peers, and others through an authentic and meaningful conversation is vital, and Web 2.0 technologies allow this to happen on a scale never seen before. This two-way interaction is vital for policymakers because of the persuasive authority that comes from fostering this conversation. People like it because it’s not just big-government telling them what to think, feel and do – it’s their family, friends, neighbours and peers as well. It’s not Government vs Citizens, but Government AND Citizens.

This kind of engagement isn’t free. Sometimes, it comes with a significant cost. Not just a financial cost, but on other valuable resources such as time and people as well. There’s also a cost to reputation if the risks aren’t minimised. But the bigger thing to calculate is the cost of not doing it.

As the taskforce wraps up its work, how can we in the Australian public sector use this as a catalyst for our own conversations? How do we mobilise those exploring the Web 2.0 space and continue to share the experiences of our journeys? Not just the good, but the bad and the ugly as well – to learn from our fellow travellers, collectively find our way in this new space and seize opportunities as they arise. By doing so, not only will we be able to deliver more tailored, effective and efficient public services, but be able to foster stronger community engagement and social innovation as well.

Darren Whitelaw (@DarrenWhitelaw) is the General Manager of Corporate Communication at Victoria’s Department of Justice. The views expressed in this post are those of the individual and do not represent those of his employer.
]]>
http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/31/guest-post-the-victorian-department-of-justice-and-web-2-0/feed/ 11
Strategy and surfing the wave of serendipity http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/30/strategy-and-surfing-the-wave-of-serendipity/ http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/30/strategy-and-surfing-the-wave-of-serendipity/#comments Wed, 30 Dec 2009 13:47:19 +0000 Nicholas Gruen http://gov2.net.au/?p=1744 When preparing for a talk to HOCI – the Heads of Collecting Agencies – I checked out this piece on “the National Library of Wales’ development of a strategic approach to meeting user needs in a post-Web 2.0 world.”  This is what the author says:

Whilst what distinguished success from failure in these instances was often not a paper document outlining what was to be achieved but a combination of organisational support, a willingness to experiment (and to fail) – and most importantly – a clear understanding of what was achievable.

Now there are things that I clearly agree with here – particularly the need for ‘permission to fail’.  What about the insistence that the most important thing was to understand what was achievable: well who could object to that? It seems the very acme of commonsense. Now if we take it as a piece of commonsense then perhaps it means that if you set up a social media site, don’t expect that volunteers are going to start solving all your problems.  But if that’s the case, then it’s also a pretty empty thing to say. If it’s making a strong claim to insight – which the body language of the paragraph suggests it is, I think it is both wrong and that it contradicts the earlier injunction to be prepared to experiment.  If an experiment is anything, it seems to me it is something that one cannot have a “clear understanding” of what it might achieve.

In fact there’s a paradox here because I salute the National Library of Wales for even having a Web 2.0 strategy, and a closer look shows me that there’s much to like about their actual strategy. I still think the sentence above is at least a little wide of the mark, but my real concern is that I see an awful lot of nonsense swept into the bromides about strategy and strategic alignment in other, less worthy contexts.  All too often in my experience, top management talk a lot about strategic alignment but it becomes a kind of hand-waving exercise – on its own strategic alignment is an empty expression.

And while a formal Web 2.0 strategy for an organisation might provide a worthwhile fillip to those in the organisation who really want to get some Web 2.0 things done, and while at some stage it will be a precondition for really grasping the opportunities in a big way, the risk is that such a strategy is put together and agreed by people who have little passion for it, or perhaps no real knowledge or even familiarity with it. In this situation, I’d rather see progress being made, at least initially, at least until some critical mass of opinion forms, by allowing those who do want to do things a little more scope to do it.

The other things that tend to go with strategy – like specifying outcomes and then measuring them may not just slow things down, they may gum up the works if invoked too soon.  And one of the lessons of Mashup Australia for me anyway is that play and free association, throwing the doors open can achieve a great deal – though the catch is you can’t really know until you try it (so much for a clear understanding of what’s achievable).  If some ’strategic’ process must be invoked in order to authorise such things, well and good. But beyond that I’d proceed slowly on strategy, including on expectations of what’s achievable with education, experimentation and lots of learning about others’ experiments and attempts to emulate the successful ones until there is a fair bit of familiarity within an organisation.

I was listening to this interview with Paul Buchheit yesterday and as he notes, all the social media platforms – like Twitter, Facebook and his own FriendFeed (recently acquired by Facebook) are highly adaptive strategically. All of them are doing a whole lot of things which are not what their original strategy called for. For them strategy is a highly dynamic process – something to help them surf the wave of serendipity, not beyond that, a planning process which is likely to slow them down.

And to surf this wave it’s necessary for organisations to open themselves up – to ideas, capabilities and potential connections throughout their organisations and beyond. That’s why Dell opened up Idea Storm and why Google and Atlassian have 20 percent time giving employees sufficient autonomy not only to work on new ideas of their own for the company but also to make the associations of interest and enthusiasm within (and perhaps outside) the organisation which might turn out well.

In so far as strategy is invoked to provide authority for this kind of thing, then that makes a lot of sense to me, but the language of strategy, the language of setting goals, expectations, measuring outputs tends to suggest other things, most of which have ‘top down’ overtones.  If it’s really true that Web 2.0 is serendipitous, then at the very least strategy can’t be the prime mover of the process. Strategy, it seems to me has a role in authorising some process of search. It’s also OK to have some preconceptions of what you’re looking for.   That’s like a hypothesis in science. But you also have to be ready to be surprised – not just surprised that something that was tried or not tried worked or not, but surprised that worthwhile things quite different to those that had been planned and hoped for emerged from the endeavour and to be ready to reorder your strategic priorities and do it quickly.

]]>
http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/30/strategy-and-surfing-the-wave-of-serendipity/feed/ 8
Christmas 2.0 http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/24/christmas-2-0/ http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/24/christmas-2-0/#comments Thu, 24 Dec 2009 05:58:47 +0000 Nicholas Gruen http://gov2.net.au/?p=1739 Well we’re all winding down here, though I’m hoping to add a post or two before things wind down further.  As you probably know, the Taskforce formally ceases to exist on the 31st December. Most of the infrastructure of the Taskforce is in the process of being closed down. This blog will be staying open for reference and for any further discussion that arises on existing posts beyond the 31st December when the Taskforce ceases to exist. Taskforce members will have the option of publishing new posts if they choose. While the secretariat has disbanded, moderation will still be provided by AGIMO and any Taskforce members like me who receive feeds of comments on most posts and notice anything amiss. AGIMO have told me that they’ll keep you up to date with what is happening with the progress of the Report through government through regular posts.

But one of my treats for this morning was reading Rose Holley’s new piece on “Crowdsourcing and Social Engagement: Potential, Power and Freedom for Libraries and Users”.  Actually I’ve not yet read her paper, but have been through the slides which offer a great sampling of the crowdsourcing libraries and other institutions in the galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAM) sector have been up to.  (Actually there are other similar institutions, like botanical gardens of which Australia has at least two of the world’s greatest in Melbourne and Sydney, but where would you stick a ‘BG’ into GLAM?. . . . but I digress).

Anyway, I recommend it to you dear Gentle Readers 2.0 and wanted to put this thought in your head.  This Christmas if our own experience and statistics regarding the past are a reasonable source for generalising about the future you will have some spare time on your hands.  You may even be a bit bored.  So you could go to any of the sites mentioned by Rose in her presentation, and you could pass a little time at the same time as bringing a tad more joy to the world – you could make the world a touch better by the application of your time and intelligence.

All you need do is follow any or all of these links, have a look around and do a bit of volunteer work for your fellow human being.

And thanks to all for helping us on our journey this year. There were times when it looked like I’d have to go cap in hand to the Ministers who had set us our task to tell them we’d failed to get it done satisfactorily in time and to request an extension (In fact there had been informal discussions and the extension was there if we really needed it). But we did it, and judging from the reactions to our draft report, particularly from those around the world, we’ve got a great result.

So Merry Christmas one and all. As for the Happy New Year, I hope for that even more, but as far as this agenda is concerned, it’s over to the government – and you!

]]>
http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/24/christmas-2-0/feed/ 1
Final Taskforce Report released http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/22/final-taskforce-report-released/ http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/22/final-taskforce-report-released/#comments Tue, 22 Dec 2009 02:24:37 +0000 Peter Alexander [Taskforce Secretariat] http://gov2.net.au/?p=1681 The Taskforce’s final report, Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0, was handed to Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner and Special Minister of State Joe Ludwig today. The Ministers have decided to release the report to the public immediately. You can find a copy at:

http://www.finance.gov.au/publications/gov20taskforcereport/index.html

]]>
http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/22/final-taskforce-report-released/feed/ 12
Not for Profit PSI Contest Announcement http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/21/not-for-profit-psi-contest-announcement/ http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/21/not-for-profit-psi-contest-announcement/#comments Sun, 20 Dec 2009 23:25:27 +0000 Lisa Harvey http://gov2.net.au/?p=1581 It was very pleasing to see the number of proposals that were submitted for our not-for-profit contest.  It shows that there is not only strong demand for public sector information in this important sector of the Australian economy, but also great potential for them to contribute to public policy development and Government service delivery if we can just make it easier for them to access relevant PSI.

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

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

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

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

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

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

]]>
http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/21/not-for-profit-psi-contest-announcement/feed/ 3
From draft to final report http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/20/from-draft-to-final-report/ http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/20/from-draft-to-final-report/#comments Sun, 20 Dec 2009 06:43:01 +0000 Nicholas Gruen http://gov2.net.au/?p=1597 Well we put the finishing touches to the final report on Friday and it’s been working its way through the proofing and designing stage.

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

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

1. Leadership,

2. Engagement and

3. Open access to public sector information.

Here’s the final report structure:

Executive Summary

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

Recommendations

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

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

1 What is Government 2.0?

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

2 How Does Australia Compare Internationally?

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

3 The Foundations of Government 2.0

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

4 Promoting Online Engagement

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

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

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

6 Open Government Enablers

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

7 Innovation and the Taskforce Experience

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

]]>
http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/20/from-draft-to-final-report/feed/ 5
Innovation and Government 2.0 http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/20/innovation-and-government-2-0/ http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/20/innovation-and-government-2-0/#comments Sat, 19 Dec 2009 14:28:22 +0000 Nicholas Gruen http://gov2.net.au/?p=1585 Government 2.0 is integral to delivering on several agendas that the Government has running at present.  It’s central to delivering on Innovation in Government – and that’s the subject of a review which with I have been involved being conducted within the Department of Innovation under the auspices of the Management Advisory Committee which is a forum of Agency Heads established under the Public Service Act to advise Government managing the Australian Public Service.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In short the answers came back as follows.

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

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

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

 

 

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

Total

Agree

Neither Agree nor Disagree

Disagree

Not Sure

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

48.9%

32.4%

17.7%

1.0%

100.0%

Social networking

58.5%

24.0%

16.6%

.9%

100.0%

Total

51.7%

30.0%

17.4%

1.0%

100.0%

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

 

 

q17a. I enjoy the work in my current job.

Total

Agree

Neither Agree nor Disagree

Disagree

Not Sure

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

82.3%

11.0%

6.6%

.1%

100.0%

Social networking

75.5%

13.8%

10.4%

.2%

100.0%

Total

80.3%

11.9%

7.7%

.1%

100.0%

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

]]>
http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/20/innovation-and-government-2-0/feed/ 3
Online engagement as a public service pathway: the column http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/18/online-engagement-as-a-public-service-pathway-the-column/ http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/18/online-engagement-as-a-public-service-pathway-the-column/#comments Fri, 18 Dec 2009 04:53:35 +0000 Nicholas Gruen http://gov2.net.au/?p=1587 Here’s today’s column in the SMH, which the SMH slightly edited down.

Who is Julie Hempenstall? She lives in Bendigo and she likes reading Australia’s historic newspapers. The National Library has hoisted its collection on the net and had them digitised by computers. I can see what keeps her there. Hard at work drafting this article I just spent the last hour reading about early Sydney – about the Governor’s plan for a school for aboriginal boys and girls to “improve the Energies of this innocent, destitute, and unoffending race.” It wasn’t a raging success.

Anyway, the computer digitisation of that article was full of mistakes. Why? Optical character recognition isn’t perfect even with clean print and certainly not with two hundred year old, stained, yellowed newspapers with antiquated fonts – or fontfs as it was printed in 1788. But people like Julie have pored over the articles and the Library’s clever ‘crowdsourcing’ website allows them to correct mistakes they find.

It’s addictive. I found the obituary of an extraordinary Englishman William Stanley Jevons who was an architect of modern economics. He turned up in Sydney in his teens in 1854 and was a busy fellow. He became assayer to our mint, was newspaper photographer in Australia (strictly a hobby) and the first to document the El Nino effect. Reading all the digitised mistakes I just couldn’t help myself. He didn’t gain an honorary degree from the “Umversity of Odinburgh”. It was the University of Edinburgh. Anyway it’s fixed now.

This bit of crowdsourcing has been a huge success. Without so much as an official launch:

  • In the first month in 2007 over 200,000 lines of text were corrected in 12,000 articles. By the six month mark 2 million lines had been corrected in 100,000 articles.
  • At no point since the first few days has there been a time when text correction is not taking place. It goes on 24/7.
  • Over a fifth of users log in from offshore – with growing communities of participants from the United Kingdom, United States of America, New Zealand and Canada. One of the top ten correctors was based in the US.
  • The top ten text correctors were correcting significantly more text than all other users spending up to 45 hours a week on the activity.
  • No vandalism of text was detected in 6 months so no roll back to previous versions or moderation was required.

Oh – and our Julie from Bendigo emerged as a leading contributor from early on in the project. When I last heard she’d corrected over a quarter of a million lines of code.

All this is a microcosm of how the world’s governments are starting to get with the vibe of ‘Web 2.0’. Web 1.0 comprised websites and e-mail. Today Web 2.0 is a platform of blogs, wikis and social networking tools for collaboration between all and sundry – often people who’ve never met and never will. Who knew that we’ve had an encyclopaedia in us just waiting to get out on a wiki? We all know now.

But we’ve only just begun thinking about what Web 2.0 might mean for the business of governing. Julie Hempenstall gives me a way of explaining just one set of possibilities considered by the Government 2.0 Taskforce.

For there are a two things we know about Julie’s work. We know she does it for its own sake – after all no-one’s paying her. And it’s very likely that, in addition to this intrinsic motivation, she’s also motivated by making some small contribute to the community. (All the respondents to the National Library’s survey of major contributors listed this as one of their motivations).

Now intrinsic motivation and civic mindedness are valuable things pretty much anywhere – but particularly around government.

We still don’t understand that much about intrinsic motivation or of how to maximise it in the workforce, but it seems clear that it is critical to highly skilled activity. The author of a groundbreaking book on volunteer built open source software (like Linux and Firefox) Eric S. Raymond, attributes much of the superiority of open source modes of working to intrinsic motivation:

‘Fun’ is . . . a sign of peak efficiency. Painful development environments waste labor and creativity; they extract huge hidden costs in time, money, and opportunity.

In the world of open source the ethic of voluntarism and the improvisational and open nature of online collaboration have led to a culture in which social recognition is a function of the quality of contribution as judged by the community around a particular project whether it’s Wikipedia, Linux software or some community congregating around a blog or blogs. Formal status doesn’t rate as it does within organisations.

In the future I’d like to see governments draw volunteer enthusiasts from the community more closely and explicitly into their own activities in policy design and service delivery. And they can go further still. Shouldn’t the best volunteer contributors – whether they’re correcting text or discussing policy alternatives – be afforded greater recognition? Over time we could see if they were interested in being given greater responsibility just as public servants are offered promotions? This could widen the pool of available talent to the public service and provide alternative pathways for recruiting people and developing their skills and authority.

If those pathways of promotion were built, as structures of authority are built in the world of Web 2.0 they would be based on self-selection, enthusiasm and a record of aptitude and contribution in the field. Firms in the Web 2.0 world are successfully experimenting with means of adapting aspects of this kind of volunteerism to their own organisational structures.

Thus for instance Google and the Australian global software maker Atlassian allow employees to spend one day a week on projects which are for the firm’s benefit, but which they are free to choose. Those with a creative idea can work on it and, equally important persuade others to use their own time to collaborate. The process can create many of the organic possibilities and associations typical of the undirected spontaneous activity of markets and civil society. It’s certainly created a lot of Google’s myriad products.

Introducing “Google time” by edict into the public service would probably just reduce productivity. So we recommended a much more incremental approach, proposing that government agencies give their staff opportunities to experiment and improvise with Web 2.0 tools to enhance their agencies’ work.

I wonder how long it will be before we get our first head of a government department who first came into the orbit of the public service as an ‘online Web 2.0 volunteer’.

Julie Hempenstall where are you?

]]>
http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/18/online-engagement-as-a-public-service-pathway-the-column/feed/ 3