Is Gov 2.0 to Web 2.0 as SOA is to Web Services?

Is Gov 2.0 to Web 2.0 as SOA is to Web Services?

Gov 2.0 certainly has roots in and relies on Web 2.0 to easily publish, manage and organize a wide variety of content on a website. So from a technology perspective it is easy to think of Gov.20 as just a particular implementation of Web 2.0. But along with many others I think and say that there more than technology going on here. For one thing Gov 2.0 must reflect designs that support particular visions and government practices. In a way this is a bit like the way that Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) leveraged Web Services to supports business and technical vision. Web services provide a basis for flexible IT solutions based on alignment of IT services with business process.

However, these Web Services and standards are a tool and the people who articuate the SOA vision realized that servics alone were not enough. They needed to be architected within a “service orientation” . This is what made it much more than a pure IT solution, more than just an incremental advance in client/server technology achievable by buying a set of software and replacing applications in older languages. It seems to me that the same is true of Gov 2.0.

This means it’s a mistake for Programs and Projects to look for Web 2.0 service technology, without any idea as to how it fits into Gov 2.0 orientation, their enterprise architecture and the business of government. Gov 2.0, like SOA is more properly viewed as part of a strategic IT process starting with business goals and business functions. It aligns Web 2.0 within a Government context.

Andif this analogy is useful one of the things that is missing from Gov 2.0 is an adequate Reference Model to guide the leveraging of Web 2.0. SOA has several simple reference models that describe how producers and users of services can avail themselves or services. This is much more difficult to model for government but it might be interesting to attempt this as we move forward. Certainly discussion of transparency and collaboration would be part of such a model and these are much more difficult concepts than the IT ones in SOA.

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Gary Berg-Cross

Good to have this cross posting. In your article a key related point is at the end:

“By demonstrating how the new technology aligns with some of the strategic goals of the organization, Gov 2.0 practitioners can better sell these new technologies to upper agency management.”

While this is still a bit of tech view it does make the point that tech should be viewed by upper agency management. within their strategic needs and not as a pure tech upgrade.

Brock Webb

the concept of SOA is often explained through the use of web services. Even talk of developing the term “WOA” and other strange combinations have appeared. I also dislike the whole “increment” thing, needing to attach a “2.0” to everything. Its making Government more open and participatory through use of the current technology, adding value to the end consumer/producer of information. Its a process/flow of maturation, making use of what we now have as capabilities. Need a reference model? I’d look no further to where the commercial world is already been/going.

There is no leverage, its simply make use of the current state of technology. At this point its getting on board and riding the wave as opposed to being washed over by it. And ultimately its all about the people and the culture, very little about the technology itself.

I am not sure why there is a need to model it. Part of the whole baggage behind SOA is the over-hyped and overly-complicated impressions/expectations people gave it. You expose a service node, people and machines understand how to connect to it, it performs a service, and outputs the result. I don’t have to care about the details, so much as I get what I asked for. I can’t see this as any different inside gov’t or out from a technology standpoint, but culture/process/organization wise… that’s a different discussion that’s already drowning in muddied water.

Srinidhi Boray

Nope. Web 2.0 is about syndicating content having different sources and formats. Gov 2.0 is rebranding of adoption of web 2.0 for open governance. SOA was not rebranding web services. It was an architectural approach that used web services as one of its technical components in theory.

Gary Berg-Cross


You make good points about the differences and I agree that there are some important one.

But there are also some things that seem similiar. For example, to use web services organizations had to not just adopt web services as a technical component of their architecture. To be effective they went through BPR analysis changing some of they ways they operate.
The delivery of government services and potentially the operation of government itself is being redefined in Gov 2.0.
One can see that BPR is also going on as Gov 2.0 uses Web 2.0. In this way it is more than a simple re-branding and use of existing web 2.0 technolog. I can see that this is how it starts out for many by creating social sites. But because the business of government has differences from business uses there are things to change from the business model.

Srinidhi Boray

GOV 2.0 is not radically changing how the government works, just that its providing more robust mechanism to conversations that anyway happened on person to person basis, on phones, in the corridors, happy hours etc

BPR is about radical redesign of the processes to achieve the same or better yet improved results, removing business latency and reducing the employ of resources etc. I dot see any BPR in GOV 2.0. There is no new edicts and edifices that GOV2.0 brings, compared to Athenian or modern democracy. It s not bringing any changes in the constitution, legislation or peoples participation with Governance. Just that it has become relevant to people that they have better visibility of the government decisions, that systems have begun to fail.

Web2.0 brought a new flavor to documenting blogs and referencing material within a blog much improving capacity for communication while making it more intuitive. As always like in the case of SOA, the use of which is gradually decreasing, there is hype with a technology, much of which is commerce driven.

Gary Berg-Cross


When you say that “GOV 2.0 is not radically changing how the government works, just that its providing more robust mechanism to conversations” I think that you are selling the movement a bit short.

It is true that early supporters/adopters of Web 2.0 services and hence Gove 2.0 have largely been among the rank and file rather than upper management. An the effort has been slowed by existing bureaucratic processes, but things like the Open Gov Directive are unshakling things and changing the environment.
So there are signal from leadership that social web innovation is now not only tolerated, but valued.
Thus following a change in the way some intelligence was gathered in Intellipedia we now have Diplopedia, with thousands of articles and 2,000 contributors or so.

As noted by Eric Kansa, executive director of the information and service design program at the University of California, Berkeley, there’s an a tension between the value of having contributed information versus a clear loss of control over the process that Government people are reacting to . Agencies are changing from what Kansa calls “black boxes making arbitrary decisions” to ones that are more transparent.

On your other point of no new edicts and edifices that GOV2.0 brings, compared to Athenian or modern democracy, I agree that there seems to be no movement towards a racical eDemocracy. Here there is more of a bottom up process that might work over time, but not a top-down effort to radically alter the way that democracy works.

Srinidhi Boray

Hi Gary,

Thank you for your reply. This is what Tim – Berners Lee commented on Web 2.0.

“Whether Web 2.0 is qualitatively different from prior web technologies has been challenged by World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, who called the term a “piece of jargon”[4] — precisely because he specifically intended the Web to embody these values in the first place.”

I am not selling the need for Gov 2.0 any short. In fact being in the Internet market, obviously have worked towards overcoming the overhead that the intermediaries in the system contribute. In fact in complete elimination of the intermediaries. This is the real deal.

But as always, I am concerned about the “hype”. Certainly I can agree that Web 2.0 will allow for better collaboration. This does not mean collaboration will not exists in lack of Web 2.0. It is not drastically altering anything.

Let me take a specific case under Clinger Cohen :-

Having worked as EA / OMB compliance etc, you must be aware that transparency and accountability have existed within a very robust mechanism. But it was the callous disregard and also lack of will, that good principles did not manifest in both leader’s and people’s action. So the results seeming to comply with transparency were just artful obfuscation. I can cite several live examples at Agencies where faulty recording of the investment plans have occurred. This is pretty serious since we are talking about the integrity of the $76 Billion dollar spend on the Fed IT Portfolio.

With Web 2.O and Gov 2.O, will the plans for IT modernization become any better, will it make the government decisions more transparent and will accountability be much better??

I doubt it.

To me overcoming the “bureaucracy”, which has become the gangrene of the system, is not just mere Gov 2.0 issue. It is much more complicated than that.

In the bottom-up process, the bottom-up people need to take proactive action, since it is to them that problem is proving a havoc. Not to those elitists in the top, who have manipulated the system to their advantage.

When people like myself loose home more and more, then there will be radical reform fighting for existence. Will GOV2.0 save me from bankruptcy. No way.

I am for GOV2.0, But I do not agree it is a political solution to a very complex bureaucracy related problem. On the contrary I fear GOV2.0 has an opportunity to amplify noise.

Gary Berg-Cross

An example of policy and process change one might cite is what OMB recently released as part of the 120 day deadlines in the Open Government Directive.
They had several sets of guidance for agencies on how they can use new tools like social media or wikis.
Currently, there’s a burdensome process for agencies who want to do something as simple as ask the users of their website whether they are pleased with their experience – and there has been widespread confusion about whether asking users on Twitter or other social networks amounted to the same thing.
The judgement for agencies that want to use social media or blogs to engage the public, today’s guidance makes it that much easier to do, with OMB clearly stating that most uses of interactive web tools are not paperwork.

Srinidhi Boray

OMB other than achieving so called “compliance” has not achieved anything “accountable”. At this time I can send you an email from my DOL email a/c. Would they want me present there. No way?

Does any investment plan in most agency line up to credible segment plans (line of sight). No way. 50% of the investments are categorized as “minor” they don’t show up in OMB submission.

OMB itself is having quite a difficult time getting exact data for progressing on IT Optimization and Cloud Computing. They cannot, since in the past they promoted “compliance” that were not really accountable.

Why am I talking, since there is nothing left to loose 🙂

OMB gave this direction, since Obama government wants this to happen. Which is awesome, a distant hope for people like myself to remain in our homes. But bureaucracy will not allow it to happen. It did not happen at Treasury, did not happen at DOT, not in DOE nor at DOL.

How many people in the street or even in the Federal IT business understand this complex issue? Very few.

Gary Berg-Cross


We agree that there is a danger of falling for hype. Indeed this is true of the Semantic Web and SOA too. But they represent movements that reform can ride on if we can pick out the signal in the noise. One thought in my analogy of SOA to Web Services was to see the mix of benefits SOA added by being more architectural, but also the hype built around too slavish the message may have gotten for all it supposed benefits.

I aware that transparency and accountability have existed as related concepts within government. but I think that some of the failures of the broder concept of accountability have been.because transparency is too hard to acheive. So developing more of a culture of transparency, from the bottom, may encourage more accountablity at all levels.

Srinidhi Boray

Hi Gary,

Yes inculcating culture probably has some answers. The constitution itself when designed was based on nobel principles and values. Transparency and Accountability is intrinsic to the system, ever since the constitution was established.

Unfortunately the system over the period of time has run down by negligence. We are now sitting on one huge problem, that like gordian knots lies hidden. And, now it seems transparency is a new concept that needs to be established as newer and more matured versions of the government / governance is desired.

Regarding this issue and cures / remedies etc, Reform can happen with or without Gov 2.0 or web2.0. I would like to clearly distinguish the larger felt need for reform that better transparency is achieved with or without the tools. Tools are not the ultimate solutions. Although Gov2.0 as a tool can better enable transparency.