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Government 2.0 Taskforce Roadshow – Encouragingly Refreshing

I attended the first Government 2.0 Tasforce Roadshow held yesterday in Canberra at the Australian Bureau of Statistics in Belconnen. Whilst the agenda was published on the Taskforce web site I really did not know what to expect on the day. Given the format the event took it would have been more useful to both the Taskforce and the participants, to have been forewarned of the open consultative format. This would have allowed the participants to prepare topics for discussion more thoroughly and would most likely have resulted in more useful input. The Taskforce had run a similar smaller event earlier in the day with Commonwealth Officers in attendance.

Nicholas Gruen opened the event with a brief overview of the format and introduced the panel members for the day, which were Nicholas Gruen, Ann Steward (CIO AGIMO) and Glenn Archer (CIO DEEWR). The attendees were then asked to suggest topics for discussion over the next 2 hours.

The topics chosen were:

1. Information Management
2. Copyright
3. Information Quality
4. Culture Change

There was a lot of discussion regarding Web 2.0 and how it could be used to implement Government 2.0 and most of the discussion was of some value.

The discussion regarding ‘Information Quality’ was very interesting and I raised the point that if service delivery methods were delivered electronically then data integrity would be greatly increased and the likelihood of information being incorrect or out of date was greatly reduced. Glenn Archer fully supported this view and raised a case in point which demonstrated this. Centrelink’s online service delivery solution which allows Centrelink customers to manage and maintain their own details is a huge success and proves an increase in both data integrity and validity. Imagine how much more that could be increased if Centrelink went a step further and delivered all of their services online, in particular unemployment benefit applications. Department of Human Services Illinois – case study

The discussion regarding ‘Culture Change’ was another one which completely surprised me with its content. It was acknowledged by the panel that there were issues within the Senior Executive Service (SES) with risk averse and innovation resistant attitudes making it difficult to implement change, it was noted that this attitude needed to be changed and a more Government 2.0 attitude adopted among the SES. I asked how they were planning to drive this change and whether the change would be driven from the top down or some other method.

The responses from all three of the panel members were very positive and Ann Steward advised that the change in the SES would be driven from both directions, from the top down and the bottom up. It was also mentioned that the Politicians wanted this change and therefore it would happen.

I personally find this an enlightening and fresh approach and feel that the taskforce have a long but rewarding job ahead of them.

For now, what can we do out here in grass roots land to help? Those who are attending the remaining Roadshows should read through the Taskforce issues paper, think about the questions they are asking in there, think about useful topics for discussion and go to the Roadshows prepared.

(From my blog http://raebuerckner.com)

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Interesting to see similar themes especially around cultural changes in the SES. I’ve heard less worries about the SES and more about the clay layer – middle management.