Government 2.0 is dead, long live Government

Yesterday I gave a presentation to the Victorian Government’s Communicators’ Group, discussing how effective government had been at meeting the challenge of rapid change throughout the last thirty years.

As part of my presentation I revisited the area of government 2.0 – giving my view that there’s no longer such a thing – it’s now simply government.

Social media is now mainstream in the community and the majority of Australian federal, state and territory departments officially use social media channels as part of their business as usual engagement with citizens, stakeholders and/or staff.

We sometimes overlook how massive a change this is – the first mention of Government 2.0 in Australia that I’ve been able to identify was only in September 2007, and the first Twitter account was established in November 2007.

In the last five and a half years, social media has become an extremely powerful tool for governments to engage communities, source knowledge and provide support.

This is only likely to grow into the future as we all become better at using digital channels, as more services go online. Mobile has also reached a tipping point in Australia, 50% of active internet connections, and is growing fast, meaning that digital channels will undergo even more changes towards a digital first approach.

I also highlighted four examples of what I consider current best practice in public sector digital engagement, looking at the areas of citizen-led engagement, crowdsourcing, budget savings and policy codesign.

These are only opinions and at a given point in time – there’s more to come as the public sector further grows its digital capabilities and expertise.

However while Gov 2.0 might have largely merged into standard public sector practices, there’s still a shortage of experienced digital engagement professionals in the sector and enormous need for ongoing education, training and support.

Ultimately I expect to see digital competency as a horizontal skill, required by the majority of public servants to support their ability to effectively recommend and implement appropriate engagement and service channels to meet public needs. However there’s still a long road to travel and much that agencies will need to learn and consider along the way.

I’m going to continue using the term ‘Government 2.0’ for some time as, despite my view, it still has some value in defining a specific set of approaches and channels for public sector engagement, and providing a focal point for discussions regarding the ongoing change governments face online.

However I believe that Government 2.0 is realistically now simply Government – with the new approaches and channels it involved now officially part and parcel of 21st century governance.

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