A more open and interactive government may be the goal of Government 2.0, but it would seem that somebody hasn’t let the prime minister, Kevin Rudd, know.
You may recall that back in July, the PM began an initiative which appeared to open up the lines of communication between the functional head of government and the plebs. That is, Kevin started blogging.
At the time of launching, the PM wrote that the site would be an opportunity for the community to provide comments and engage with each other in relation to the policy initiatives under discussion.
“Like Community Cabinet, it is a mechanism aimed at supporting the Government’s commitment to a more accessible, open and transparent way of governing,” he said at the time.
However, since then, it seems Kevin’s gone off the whole Web 2.0/open government thing, and has managed just a mere four posts in five months.
Now, I know he’s a busy guy, but he still seemingly finds enough time to Twitter at all hours and he’s been known to manage the odd Tolstoy-esque screed too, so surely he can find the time to commit a little harder to an “open and transparent way of governing”?
Jane and Joe Citizen may also be a little put off when they read that, far from being open, the four blogs KRudd has posted are now closed to comment.
To wit: “You can no longer post to these blogs. To read the discussion thread simply click on the links under the Blog Archive below or visit the Media Centre.”
So, are you telling us Kevin, that open and transparent government has a time limit? Or, that in your view, the “opportunity for the community to provide comments and engage with each other in relation to the policy initiatives under discussion” really means that the community can comment, but only when its suits you?
And what’s that about a Media Centre? Are you trying to tell us Kevin, that you weren’t really trying to communicate with us through these blogs? That you were perhaps just pumping out yet more fodder for journalists?
The whole things speaks quite eloquently to some points Gartner’s Government 2.0 expert Andrea Di Maio said recently to the extent that governments 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 your policy priorities and so on,” he said.
“‘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.”
I think Jane and Joe Citizen will pretty safely conclude from this Government 2.0 initiative that rather than walking the talk, the government is just singing the same old tune.
Just to check how 2.0 the prime minister is, we sent him an email through the link provided on his website asking when the next blog post will come and why he has only done four posts to date.
Funnily enough though, the email form says: "If you would like to provide an opportunity for the Prime Minister to respond, please supply a postal address below."
Is that even Web 0.1?