Blog post

US Federal Government Blesses “Government 2.0”

By Andrea Di Maio | May 16, 2009 | 0 Comments

web 2.0 in government

In a recent post I mentioned a White House Document issued together with FY 2010 budget request, which covers – amongst other things – cloud computing. An entire section of that document refers to “Government 2.0”. I believe this is one of the first times (if not the first) that this term appears in an official White House document. Personally I do not like it much, as it is relatively vague (governments constantly evolve and there is no sudden switch from version 1.0 or 1.9 to version 2.0), has too direct an association with “web 2.0” (and suggests a technology drive that we have already seen failing with e-government) and is already used as a buzzword by many management consultants,  IT vendors and book authors who seem to have limited appreciation or a slightly biased view of how the next wave of transformation will take place..

The document addresses both transparency and participation & collaboration.

As far as transparency, there are unavoidable references to three leading initiatives that the Obama administration has taken in this space, two of which I’ve covered several times in this blog.

The first one is USAspending.gov, a web site that  will allow citizen to verify “when, with whom, and on what the Government is spending taxpayer funds, and whether or not that money is delivering results”. Data will be made available in such a way that users will be able to “combine them into different data sets, conduct analysis and research, or power new information-based products and businesses”.

The second one is Data.gov, the much discussed repository to access public data from across the whole federal government to help unlock the so-called “power of information” and to create value by mashing up public and non-government information. As I mention in earlier posts, this has already triggered initiatives by vendors who are (or want to be seen as) proactive.

The third one is Recovery.gov, which applies the same principles as USAspending.gov to the tracking of funds coming from the Stimulus Package.

As far as participation & collaboration, the document says that “the Federal IT agenda is focused on helping agencies use developing technologies to inform the work of Government” and “Agencies will be called upon to take creative action in developing new approaches to
citizen involvement, including the utilization of social and visual technologies, such as Web 2.0 tools
.

The document is not totally clear about how much of this should be driven as an agency initiative to involve its external constituents and to what extent these technologies should be embraced by individual employees, to create unprecedented collaboration patterns with internal and external stakeholders. The topic of whether and how employees should leverage social media is one of the most debated (see my older post). But until when employees will be at the center of government transformation and made active part of the innovation process, government will not get to its “version 2.0”.

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