Updated: Microsoft forks out $1 mil for Gov 2.0

Second round of government 2.0 funding from Microsoft seeks to remedy past mistakes, demands no restrictions

Microsoft has donated funding of $1 million to the Federal Government to promote development of Gov 2.0 tools and processes.

The new funding is the second such injection pledged by the software giant, following the $2.45 million it pledged to the Government 2.0 Taskforce last year to establish and encourage projects around open government data communication and collaboration. The Project Fund oversaw a total of 19 projects prior to the release of the Taskforce Report in December 2009 largely around data publication and online engagement.

At the time the company was forced to defend stringent conditions placed on the use of funding, which demanded participants in the projects enter into contracts directly with Microsoft. The agreement, claimed as “standard” by a spokesperson at the time, also required contractors provide specific training to staff at the contractors’ expense, that contractors fire and replace specific staff at Microsoft’s request, and that Microsoft itself can fire participants in the Government 2.0 Taskforce. There were also concerns the agreement would prevent the ability to utilise open source licensing on published data sets and tools.

However, director of corporate affairs at Microsoft Australia, Simon Edwards, wrote in a blog post last week that the new round of funding was open-ended and would not have the same requirements attached.

“The $1 million has been provided without condition and Microsoft has neither requested nor expects to receive any reconciliation of the use of these funds,” Edwards wrote.

The funding, according to Edwards, would be used by Gov 2.0 oversight body, the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO), to further development of Gov 2.0 tools and processes enabling use across the Australian Public Service. Cultural change within government departments - often keyed as a large obstacle to achieving Gov 2.0 objectives - has also been highlighted as a potential use of funding.

“The tools of Government 2.0 will only go some way to enabling the possibilities of the technology,” Edwards wrote. “People will enable the transformational power of technology to be realised.”

AGIMO confirmed the contribution would be used to support staffing costs for the Department of Finance and Deregulation, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and the Attorney-General’s Department to employees helping to implement Gov 2.0 recommendations.