Stephen Collins blogged yesterday about government 2.0, lamenting the fact that the opportunity to leverage “the power of the Internet to connect with and enable their constituents” to have a say could be well and truly improved in Australia.
The issue is not new, there are already government initiatives underway with government 2.0 in the UK and in Canada. Germany has an e-government framework that looks at the technological and e-participation aspects of its government 2.0 policy approach.
I think there are two issues of note when it comes to government 2.0. Firstly, the point Stephen made yesterday and in a previous blog post, is that governments need to engage with the citizenry. The tools are certainly available with which to take up this interactive dialogue. It is not enough for political campaigns to run focus groups for policy formulation when there are other more scaleable and representative communication platforms from which to engage the electorate, and not just in the lead up to an election.
Secondly, there is a need for government departments to collaborate more effectively across a range of policy areas since the world is not easily cut up into discrete sections like departmental institutions. While some effort has been made federally in areas like information technology and communication (for example, AGIMO), more can be done.
As to the latter point, there is currently a call for submissions to a West Australian government inquiry into collaborative approaches in government: “The Community Development and Justice Standing Committee invites submissions from interested parties on the way in which policy, and practice together with organisational structures, encourages sustainable and collaborative approaches and activities across government”. Might be worth having a say on this…
Ultimately, government 2.0 is about making the role and operations of government more effective and more representative of the needs of the people to whom they are supposed to service. Governments need to overcome the silo mentality of the departmental edifice and all the political posturing that goes with it. Governments need to be responsive both internally and externally.
Of course, the other important requirement is for the government institutions and the politicians to actually listen and act.