Gov 2.0 is progressing rapidly, but cultural change remains the biggest barrier to its widespread adoption, according to the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO).
Speaking ahead of the Gov 2.0 Conference in Canberra this week, AGIMO Assistant Secretary of the Online Services Branch, Peter Alexander, said the technical side of implementing Gov 2.0 was relatively easy, but the change management associated with a Gov 2.0 culture remained difficult to overcome.
“It is the biggest challenge we have,” 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."
Not only did proponents have to work within government agencies to advance Gov 2.0, but also within the broader community.
“Quite often we will put out a post [on the AGIMO blog] and not have much engagement from the community, so we have to build [community engagement] so there is an excellent two-way flow," Alexander said. "The reality is it will take some time.”
“We have to get our leaders into a position where they see not only it as valuable in theory, but in practice.”
Despite the issue of culture - an issue which has been picked up by Gov.20 expert and Gartner analyst, Andrea Di Maio — government agencies are increasingly warming to the idea of open discussion and collaboration with the public.
“We are in the early days of building a new culture and changing the [current] culture, but [Gov 2.0] is exponentially accelerating as each time an agency sees a good practice within another agency their confidence builds and builds,” he said.
By way of example, Alexander said the AGIMO’s experience with its procurement blog had given the Australian Tax Office the confidence to ‘guest post’ on the AGIMO site seeking community input on its IT applications panel.
“[Gov 2.0] is exponentially accelerating as each time an agency sees a good practice within another agency their confidence builds and builds, so the [change] will come relatively quickly, but I don’t know whether it is six months till it is embedded or 12 months, or three or five years, but it is embedded and it is growing,” Alexander said.
Alexander said AGIMO was promoting the use of the Govdex forum as a way of pushing forward the Gov 2.0 agenda. The site has doubled its communities and users in the past two years to 1000 and 20,000 respectively, and AGIMO will shortly release a ‘Gov 2.0 primer’ for agencies and departments to explain Gov 2.0 to all Australian public servants who to date have had limited experience and exposure to the initiative.