Blog post

A Politician Who Understands the Tactical Nature of Gov 2.0

By Andrea Di Maio | November 23, 2011 | 6 Comments

web 2.0 in governmentcloud

After one and a half year I had a chance to meet again senator Kate Lundy, who is now the Australian Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration and Cultural Affairs. She has been a very vocal supporter of government 2.0 and always passionate with innovative ways to use technology to engage citizens. While her new responsibility and portfolio are quite different from before, her interest for the role of technology has not changed at all.

As I did last time, I found some of her views about that quite refreshing, if compared to what many gov 2.0 and cloud enthusiast keep stating. In particular, as we chatted about the arguably diminished impetus around gov 2.0 after the change of government, she agreed that, while the lack of a specific cabinet member dealing with IT is a factor, the very nature of gov 2.0 requires it to be geared toward the solution of particular problems rather than pursued as a desirable platform. Openness has great value in itself, but needs to be proven on a case by case basis, and that’s not been the case yet, at least in a demonstrably sustainable fashion.

Kate also showed a down-to-Earth appreciation of cloud computing hype and opportunities, proving once again that she is an incredibly switched on politician.

It is quite clear that, while the political drive on open government and gov 2.0 remains important, the ball is now in the departments’ and agencies’ hands to use these as essential means to achieve outcomes and solve problems, rather than a desirable attribute that gets discarded as soon as tougher and more urgent priorities emerge.

The relatively predictable budgetary situation for the Australian government, which is tightening its belt to achieve a surplus but is not imposing any draconian cut to agencies and programs, could be both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it may still have room for funding innovation, and a curse because it may not offer those opportunities for radical thinking driven by the lack of any other traditional solution to problems.

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  • Mark Diner says:

    I don’t think that Gov2.0, and citizen engagement strategies, and successful implementation are dependent on budgetary pressures (either positive or negative). I think the budgets may need to be repurposed a little (perhaps in the development of open data portals), but for the most part, the cultural changes necessary to entice program areas to embrace new models of citizen engagement are budget neutral – only an investment in appropriate leadership is needed.

  • @Mark – In theory yes, but in reality one needs a though problem to solve to take the risk associated to gov 2.0. Case in point: the Canadian web 2.0 guidelines that will probably scare most prospective users 🙂

  • Mark Diner says:

    So you mean the solution to a business problem that might require new gov20 citizen engagement strategies, and result in cultural changes via application of organizational change management to successful implement such strategies- that project – will need budget. Fair enough.

  • Mark Diner says:

    Agree with both observations – if what you meant is that budget is required to fund a project or initiative where gov20 strategies are deployed, that requires cultural change to be successful in achieving it’s gov20 objectives.

  • Not quite, Mark. Budget may be required, or not (depending on urgency and demographics), but was is absolutely required is a clear problem that cannot be solved otherwise.

  • Mark Diner says:

    Hmm. Coming up with a clear problem that can not be solved otherwise at the appropriate order of magnitude to warrant cultural change is a clear problem.