Governments’ responsibilities and polices toward citizens may be the biggest impediment to the adoption of successful Government 2.0 around the world, according to analyst firm, Gartner.
Speaking at the Gartner Symposium in Sydney, analyst Andrea Di Maio, said governments would have to learn to cede more control to citizens if they wanted to pay more than lip service to the idea of a more open, citizen-driven approach to information sharing.
“All government institutions say they want to be citizen-driven but being driven has an implication that is pretty powerful — you have to let go of control. You have to accept that you go where [the citizens] want to go and this immediately clashes with your accountabilities and you policy priorities and so on.
“‘Citizen-driven’ implies a loss of control and that’s why you will see [governments] struggling a lot around walking the talk about government 2.0.”
He said the current citizen-driven concept is more about what governments think their citizens want, but it should really be what citizens think citizens want. An example of the current approach could be seen in governmental websites, or portals, which were intended to act as a single access point to information and services.
“Our research shows that citizen portals are pretty much unsuccessful. They are not delivering the integrated service experience that citizens would like to have — not because they are not good but because they don’t factor in they way people want to access services.” he said. “The point of being citizen driven is realising that there are many channels citizens want to come to you — not just through a portal.”
Another common point of failure in Government 2.0 initiatives is feed back systems which rely upon citizens to talk directly to government, rather than the more commonly used social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter, Di Maio said.
To address this, governments need to actively gather information from people in a similar way to spy agencies.
“The best agencies in the world to do this are… the intelligence agencies as they have been monitoring websites and communities for a long time. The same style should be used by everybody else,” he said. “Spy on your citizens — but in the open. Where people are having an open conversation among themselves, to be there to listen and understand what is going on instead of expecting them to come to you.”
Despite these challenge, Australia’s own Government 2.0 Taskforce was making positive moves toward being properly citizen-driven, Di Maio said.
“The first signs from the Taskforce have been pretty encouraging as they are asking themselves the right questions, which, believe me, is quite unique,” he said. “I don’t know whether they will get the right answers, but having an open conversation about Government 2.0 is already a huge step.”