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Local Government “Lead Organisation” For Gov2.0

I was originally going to write a post responding to the Federal Governments response to the Gov2au Taskforce final report and how it relates to Local Government. However I think one of the recommendations deserves its own post.

2.1 A lead agency should be established within the Commonwealth public service with overall responsibility for advancing the Government 2.0 agenda, providing leadership, resources, guidance and support to agencies and public servants on Government 2.0 issues…

In this case the lead agency is going to be the Department of Finance and Deregulation, ably advised by a soon to be created Gov2.0 Steering Group.

As well as providing a central respository of advice and information for the various Federal Government departments, agencies and so on, the lead agency will also be tasked with communicating with the other levels of Government, so that all three levels can share experiences and information, speeding up the process of developing effective Gov2.0 based policies and services across the country.

At present however there isn’t a “lead agency” in the Gov2.0 space for Local Government. Right now, to many in Local Government, Gov2.0 and social media sounds a bit like an unexplored land. There are rumours of riches and adventure, and a few of those who have ventured forward have come back covered in gold. However there are also tales of dragons and horrible ends for the unwary.

What Local Government needs is an organisation that can not only do the exploring, but map out which are the safe routes and which contain the fell beasts (those would call themselves ninjas or gurus) and trolls.

There are a couple of different options we could take when developing such an organisation:

  • State based: Each state currently has its own organisation dedicated to the interests of Local Government in the state. In New South Wales this is the Local Government and Shires Association(with whom I have a commercial relationship), in Western Australia it’s WALGA. A state based Local Government Gov2.0 lead agency could build upon the knowledge and experience of these groups (provided there is commensurate added funding of course). On the other hand these organisations are stretched already having to deal with a great number of issues as the nature of Government in Australia changes.
  • National Organisation: The other option is a single national organisation. This organisation would feature specialists on each state and territories Local Government system but would be independent of the state organisations and departments.

Whatever the model adopted, I really do believe that Local Government needs such an organisation. Technology is moving rapidly which is helping to drive new thinking about Government. Whether it’s the adoption of twitter and facebook, or the release of data for third party development, there is an expectation growing among the people that Local Government serves that their Governments should be keeping pace

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Profile Photo Pam Broviak

James
A few of us working for local government in the US have also been discussing this. We did create an online group, MuniGov, to help us focus on helping each other learn about and use these tools, but we have not yet done anything formal with it. Lately we have discussed creating a more formal entity so if we do that perhaps we could try to become the type of organization you describe.

The frustrating part of it for me as a long time govt employee is that I had initially looked to the municipal leagues in the states to help serve in this capacity since it seemed to fit into their mission. But when a few of us tried to contact the one in Illinois and suggest including social media in their offerings, we got no response or interest.

Profile Photo James Purser

Pam,

There is a very valid argument that it would be better to start afresh to avoid the sort of rusted on thinking that you can get with an organisation that has been around for a while. Especially with regards to “new” ideas and technologies which don’t fit neatly into a category.

If the existing orgs aren’t interested we have to work around them. MuniGov looks like a good start, I’ll be exploring that more thanks for the link 🙂