The Public Sphere

Today’s Public Sphere 2 at Parliament House in Canberra has the potential to reset the whole frame for Government 2.0 in Australia. 30-odd inspiring and well-informed speakers with real experience both within and in helping the public sector really showed the potential for a more open and collaborative model for government in this country.

Lindsay Tanner
Image by trib via Flickr

In particular, the announcement from Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner and Special Minister of State Joe Ludwig, of the launch of the Government 2.0 Taskforce is of major importance – I’m surprised it’s not all across tech sector news (but then again, the fracas in the Parliament over other issues is kind of dominating political news). I’m more than impressed by the makeup of the Taskforce. If they’re listening, and I believe they are, here are my concerns and suggestions:

  • please keep us up to date often on your deliberations and what you’re thinking about – release early, release often
  • please don’t just listen to vendors and “industry” as they actually aren’t your best source of information – talk to those doing and those who want to do but are constrained by the culture of their organisations
  • given your ability to provide grants for related work, please make them diverse and not just focussed on those with the time and resources to make detailed submissions – make the barrier very low
  • there may be too many people on the Taskforce that feel like insiders and to few that are passionate doers – where are the people like OpenAustralia or CPD on the Taskforce? Where too are the passionate people – not agencies, but people involved in Open Source, participatory democracy, etc.? Please reach out to these people and get them deeply involved as soon as you can – many hands make light work
  • this move means that the Clean Feed should be dead in the water – where was that announcement?
  • many agencies still lack skills or cultural requirements to make the most of the work of the Taskforce – please ensure something happens to ensure both culture change and skill building takes place

I hope the Taskforce really does a great job.

I had just one concern on the day, that I raised with a couple of the other organisers – they agreed.

There were too few questions from those attendees who were not already a part of the open government community. That could quite legitimately have been because they felt overwhelmed with the volume of material presented today. But several presenters, including me, made explicit offers to talk to anyone who had questions. There were too few… I imagine the reason is a combination of culture present in the APS, amount of information and a little shyness amongst the attendees.

If you were an attendee, please do reach out and ask any questions you have to me or on the event wiki in a few days.

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Good post and thanks for giving us a first-hand view of how Gov 2.0 is moving in Australia. I’m with you on the idea of the taskforce and your concerns. But the fact that they are assembling a taskforce means people are starting to give it attention. It is always a trick with Gov 2.0/Open Gov of whether we end up just talking to ourselves and don’t get enough outside questions and interactions but I think that is a normal issue with early adopter movements. But the tide is changing across the globe…