Blog post

Too much money plays against government 2.0

By Andrea Di Maio | October 11, 2010 | 1 Comment

web 2.0 in government

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.

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1 Comment

  • Hi Andreas,

    I blogged about the same topic in eGovAU last month:

    Will social media only come into its own in government when budgets run out?

    I am seeing the same thing in Australia as you saw in Canada.

    Having available funds means that institutions can keep doing things in the traditional ‘proven’ ways and don’t need to explore innovative solutions. (make more TV commercials)

    However slashing budgets is only half the fix. People also need to be jolted into new paradigms. Without education and support many managers simply try to repeat their past approaches, but on a smaller scale, rather than attempting genuine innovation and new approaches.

    Many people tend to repeat their behaviour until the conditions are utterly unfavourable – then some (not all) change.

    This is nothing new – it’s why many industries fail when new technologies emerge. Most blacksmiths didn’t start making cars, most typewriter companies didn’t start making computers.

    In government the transition is more sensitive – we can’t have 80% of agencies fail….