A Salute to 3 Gov 2.0 Heroes You Don’t Know Yet

On this day – Gov 2.0 Hero Day – when we’re honoring people who have toiled tirelessly to create a government that leverages technology to better serve and engage citizens, I thought I’d share some quick thoughts on people that I admire.

Yes, we’re naming names today (all of whom are noteworthy and deserve recognition – thank you, one and all!), but I wanted to acknowledge the efforts of people whose names we don’t hear – people who are working hard just to get approval to test a social media tool or trying to change a culture from “need to know” to “need to share.”
Here’s my quick list of heroes – you know who you are:
1. Public Information Officers across the country who are fighting with small-town mayors and big city managers over the medium of message delivery. These PIOs know that social media will reach people who haven’t been to the city’s website in years…if ever. They ask: Where is it more likely that we’ll see our neighbors? At public meetings or in the pews of our churches or the Rotary Club luncheon? On the web page where content is stale and stagnant or on a Facebook page where people are constantly updating their status and interacting with friends and family. If only, they argue, we can create a mobile site that is easily accessible and readable on a smart phone, citizens can have our community in the palm of their hands…and we’ll finally have an unbroken bridge of communication between the physical and virtual realms where we find one another. Thank you, PIOs, for engaging in these battles. You will win – and we’re all here to help you.
2. Public Affairs Specialists in Federal agencies that have not yet adopted the mindset or methods of Gov 2.0. Like those PIOs, these folks are boldly making the business case for building an infrastructure of communication that does more than push messages to the public. But that plea for progress is falling on deaf ears. Why? Due to fear and a failure to understand that the time in which government worked solely for the people is giving way to a government that it truly by the people. They see their peers in other agencies achieving some semblance of success and are learning lessons to avoid the pitfalls of their early adopting colleagues. They’d love to jump ship and join an agency where innovation is alive…but they also feel a stronger sense of loyalty and persistence in the place where they’re planted. PA Peeps: Your seeds are not falling on hard rocky soil! Change is inevitable and your present challenges will give way to new paradigms in due time.
3. Engaged and Active Citizens who are actually interacting with their government counterparts, who believe that government is not the enemy, but is, in fact, an ally. Without these committed people who are paying attention to the efforts of their public servants – not some faceless bureaucrats, but their friends and family and neighbors – the Gov 2.0 movement would really be pointless. But just as there are public sector personnel who are giving it their all to produce a platform for citizen engagement, we ought to thank those pioneering people who are taking government at its word and sharing fresh ideas, voting for open government solutions and valuing a shift in the way they receive services and information. Engaged Citizens: keep challenging us to do more and do better, to be more efficient and effective. We’re listening and learning, just like you!

So that’s who I am thinking about today. Who else would you add?

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Sara Estes Cohen

Interns – who pave the way for agencies who have not yet adopted social media but work (often for free and against much adversity) to develop social media capabilities against all odds!

Stephen Peteritas

Yes, massive props to the good PIO’s out there. Getting called all day everyday to tell a million different people the same stuff you told the last person you just hung up with is not easy and can be trying. Appreciate those of you who do it with grace!

Andrew Krzmarzick

Good one, Sara! Interns and volunteers – people who are expanding the staffing/resource capacity, especially on the local level…often for no compensation (other than a Starbucks gift card ;-)!