Getting the government out of government 2.0

Republished from eGovAU.

A key factor in government 2.0 is that it doesn’t have to be a government body that delivers the government 2.0 experience.

Sometimes government should simply be the platform providing the data and allow external organisations to provide the combined services and information that the public wants.

This can lead to faster, cheaper and more innovative service and information delivery. External parties are not bound by the same restrictions and overheads as the public sector, can draw on more diverse pools of ideas and compete to provide the best solutions.

Of course there needs to be oversight to ensure that accuracy and equity remain top of mind. Everyone eligible for a service should be able to access it, and information needs to be available in an accurate and timely fashion.

These concerns can often be managed through appropriate copyrighting (such as Creative Commons) or by having government provide a base-level service.

One of the best examples of government 2.0 in Australia fits these criteria.

OpenAustralia republishes Hansard records and the Members’ Register of Interest for Federal government, making them easier to access, search and comment on.

Should government provide a similar tool?

I’d argue no. Provided government can make the information available in a basic way, and ensure the information is readily accessible to be republished by others, the government can focus its investments into other areas of improvement.

In my view this doesn’t only hold for Hansard records. There are many areas across government where we would be better served by making data available in a simple reusable format and allow the not-for-profit and private sectors to provide services on top.

Here is a speech by one of the founders, Matthew Landauer, given to the employees of Google about the purpose and journey of OpenAustralia, with a glimpse into the future of the site.

A post about the speech – and the OpenHacking event OpenAustralia recently held is on the Google Code blog, Australia goes open.

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I agree. Part of the exciting part of Gov 2.0 is government doesn’t have to do everything. Empower citizens. Empower non-profits and other organizations. Empower employees. And get out of the way. Often it is cheaper, quicker, and can be more valuable when done through a third party.