Gov 2.0 focused on government at expense of public

Gov 2.0 needs to focus on citizen end users rather than the needs of governement agencies and departments, analyst firm IBRS argues

While progress is being made in Government 2.0, it is government, rather than the public, that is reaping the rewards of the technology-led initiative.

See Computerworld Australia’s slideshow on the Gov 2.0 conference

According to IBRS advisor, Guy Cranswick, while it was positive that governments were opening up and communicating with the public, the motivation was not greater transparency of government.

“It is all very well government doing this, but to a large degree they are really satisfying their own internal constituencies and stakeholders — other people and agencies around the world,” Cranswick said. “

“I am not that convinced that the general public is that involved in [Gov 2.0] and that it has been executed that well.”

Cranswick argued there were a number of government agencies who had embarked on social networking initiatives, such as opening Facebook accounts, but which did not have a communication strategy.

“They also use no site analytics so have no idea of page views, level of traffic, loyalty, all the basics which a private enterprise involved in a communications strategy would have so what you are getting is a kind of tokenism,” he said.

“No-one has any idea how you can use [communication tools] on an integrated way so it is very difficult and makes it very hard to tell what they will get out of it in 12 months time, so it is a sort of tokenism about being a part of a larger communications initiative.”

Citing IBRS research into communication between government and the public, Cranswick said while a large percentage of the public used government websites, some 25 per cent complained they could not find the information they needed.

“If you are delivering websites where people can’t find information and yet you want to embark on Gov 2.0 then there is some disconnect. Why are these things being rectified?” he said.

“It goes to much more substantial things about government communication: meta tagging policies, that search engines and content management is highly variable in performance… it’s really basic stuff about how to deliver information.

“Government agencies may have a remit to deliver so many thousands of pages of documentation online, but it may not necessarily be the most appropriate.”

The comments follow the admission by the Australian Government Information Office (AGIMO) that while Gov 2.0 is progressing, cultural change remains the biggest barrier to its widespread adoption.

“It is the biggest challenge we have,” AGIMO Assistant Secretary of the Online Services Branch, Peter Alexander, told Computerworld Australia.

“We can build technology to consult with people, release data sets technically — those things are manageable — but the challenge is culture and building people up to be comfortable with the community and building the community to be comfortable engage with us."

Also arguing for the need for cultural change, Cranswick said Government agencies needed to focus on end users needs and expectation

“It’s not a case of pushing information out, it’s not about just supply; it is about demand,” he said.

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