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Project 2 and 3: Identify key barriers within agencies to Government 2.0 and survey of Australian Government Web 2.0 practices

E8 Consulting conducted a survey and interviews with a range of public servants about their experiences and perceptions of implementing web 2.0 in government. The report concluded that there are significant inconsistencies in the levels of access that public servants have to Web 2.0 tools and a growing gap between their use at home and work. A variety of legal, technical and cultural reasons were cited for the restrictions on work based access to Web 2.0 tools, but the report concluded that most of these could be addressed within existing policy frameworks through better education of public servants (particularly senior management) about the benefits, risks and practical uses of Web 2.0 in government.

Author Comments

If ever a project deliverable could have used the connectivity and speed of web 2.0, we’d found it. Investigating the use of web 2.0 in Government, and taking a temperature check of sentiment towards it, required us to put in the legwork. Through research of the international arena, and conducting surveys, emails, phone interviews and face to face meetings, we took a snapshot of who is doing what, who would like to do what, and who remains very, very cautious.

The enthusiasm of some of the earliest adopters was striking, and the range of paths they had followed to implementation diverse. There are quite a number of web 2.0 initiatives in play, where departments and individuals are carefully creating new levels of engagement and building their knowledge and understanding at the same time. Our discussions with others of barriers to adoption and implementation yielded genuine issues that need to be addressed, but also many solutions already waiting in the wings.

Whether you are investigating or implementing web 2.0, it all comes down to people, and that remains the most enjoyable experience of the project. We connected with people across many areas of Government, and their views were valuable – given willingly and with great candor. For that we thank them. Conversations about web 2.0 are an essential part of evaluating the context for it and opening up cultural issues. We hope those conversations now go deeper and broader within departments, and with a strong sense of purpose behind them.

Project Documents

3 Responses
  1. 2009 December 22

    Just noticed that the end of this report contains the following copyright notice:

    This work is copyright. The information in this document has been prepared for Government 2.0 Taskforce which is entitled to use the information only for the purposes for which it is intended. All other rights are reserved. No part may be reproduced, used or disclosed except as authorised in writing by e8 Consulting.
     e8 Consulting 2009

    Is that correct? I thought all the Taskforce projects were to be published under CC?

  2. 2009 December 22

    Hi James,

    You’re right — all the projects commissioned by the Taskforce are licensed under Creative Commons. We will provide a version of the report with a correct copyright statement (along with new copies of any other reports with the same problem) as soon as possible.

  3. 2010 April 14
    Madeleine Kingston permalink

    Please see my blogs on Gov 2 (Proeject 13 Governance and Institutions…”) and Club Troppo providing some possibile useful material on evaluative theory and process from expert sources and some personal views on aspects of the market that may need enhanced attention.

    Cultural barriers are in my opinion by far the most challenging as I have discussed in other blogs.

    Education, persuasion and nurturing may address some but not all of these issues. Andrea Muys discusses fear and I support those views and have cited them in several of my blogs on Gov2 and Club Troppo.

    One such fears is based in vulnerability to criticism. However, my experience is that many public servants (preferred word providers) and equivalent quasi-government entities offering a public service but incorporated, have developed suitable protective barriers that allow even the sharpest criticism to bounce off, so even this can and already has been su8rmounted.

    You only have to read through some of the public submissions made to formal arenas.

    EAG for example calls a spade a spade and can normally back the basis for their concerns with facts and figures, which is why I often choose to quote them since evidence based material, even of a critical nature is valuable.

    My personal style is quite direct and I am always happy to own my opinion and go to lengths to justify and validate them with whatever evidence I can obtain – see my lengthy public submissions, case studies and possibly annoyingly detailed approach to the justification or analysis process.

    They say we learn more from our negative experiences. There is a fine line between disallowing any criticism for fear of upsetting a public body (a stance that I do not support) and being open to change in part through a more realistic take on what may not be working and why.

    So perhaps there needs to be training given to help staff to develop buffers against over-sensitivity, whilst at the same time making sure that gratuitous and unfounded criticism is disallowed.

    Blogs however, are calculated to get to the heart of things, and encourages a degree of spontaneity that is achievable in formal processes.

    I do not believe that an over-protective attitude will help identify problems as they arise. Whilst it is easy to see how criticism can be internalized, perhaps a “toughening up” is required during the training and skilling processes, but I do not suggest an army boot camp approach either.

    There is a middle course. Many of us have to learn to deal with rejection, criticism and change.

    The legal barriers especially with regard to copyright need to be cleared up and transparent.

    There is much written on organizational change – a fascinating and challenging topic that has kept management theorists busy for decades.

    Political beliefs and agendas are high on the list of cultural blocks and these are much harder to address.

    There is a stage of readiness concept that is at the root of all blocks. Even if the technical and legal barriers were removed. These are the smaller of the challenges but need to be addressed also.

    Investigation and managing the Gov2 project does all come down to people as acknowledge in the project 2 and 3 article above. There is only one assumption that one can make with confidence and that is those actively involved in this multi-component Gov2 Project are interest in the people focus and in connecting with the community at large, otherwise this would never have got as far as this.

    However, on reading further afield I have noted the more conservative views that have been expressed by some. They are to be congratulated also for being so frank about their fears and beliefs. If there is too much emphasis on hiding one’s true beliefs there is not much point in blogging or participating in the public debate.

    It is not always desirable for active participants in the policy debate to tread on eggshells or to be over-restricted in how freely they can express themselves in such a forum or even in more formal consultations. Moderation policies should bear this in mind also.

    There are a number of useful organizational Employee Assistance Programs in place in some settings which can offer support and guidance to staff who feel particularly vulnerable in the context of the changes proposed.

    Resistance to change is a field of its own in an organizational context.

    This remains the biggest hurdle.

    Keep me posted. Can hunt down some citations on organizational change if this would be helpful material.

    Finally, if the gentle persuasion and educative approach don’t work I believe that there should be some pressure placed to achieve conformity.


    Madeleine (Kingston)

    Individual newcomer stakeholder/blogger

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