Last week I met the CIO of a city government in Canada and his deputy. Unlike many of the clients I meet lately, this city seems to be awash in money, which poses interesting challenges to IT management. The lack of budgetary pressures makes initiatives such as consolidation or portfolio management extraordinarily difficult, since there is no incentive for different departments to join forces and implement common solutions.
One area that is being negatively affected is indeed government 2.0. There is no burning platform or compelling need for engagement and collaboration. This being said, I found both clients particularly sensitive to the opportunities offered by social media and very well aware of what is going on in Canada and the US on the topic. They also shared a very interesting example of how they are using Twitter in the area of parks and recreation. Since they use mostly temporary workers, such as students, to work on park surveillance and maintenance, they have established an account on Twitter, which they use to flag the availability of temporary positions. Given the demographics of a good part of their target audience, this has been very successful.
On the other hand, when we discussed what would be the trigger for the city to encourage a more active engagement by employees, they couldn’t find any. An interesting joke that one of them made was that if they embraced an open data initiative, like other neighboring cities have done, somebody would find a way to sue them for some data inaccuracy given their deep pockets.
Definitely an interesting perspective: transparency is not always a desirable attribute, and government 2.0 is more interesting – and useful – where the are scarce rather than abundant resources.