Social networks have gained wide acceptance and praise for their use in political campaigns. It’s their use in actual government administration and public policy making environments where their absence is fueling new debate. As a solution for government-citizen communication, they can be a powerful forum for collaboration. Still, social networks remain a rarity, if at all present, in city halls, state capitals and legislatures and within the federal government.
Many Americans hope the new Obama administration will redefine electronic communication between citizens and their public officials and that those policy changes will have a ripple effect into the states and localities. Still, how these online communities will be structured, what features they will offer, how they function and who will administer them is still a cause for discussion and, in many cases, concern.
Here’s an idea where they can first be put to work on an enterprise level helping governments address the financial crises. But there’s a twist. Instead of using the social network for external public engagement –as suggested in November by Anthony D. Williams, a co-author of WIKINOMICS– first, turn their use inward to connect with government employees. With the economy adversely affecting most Americans, a first priority of any local, state or federal administration has to be an internal engagement with employees as well.
Government must reduce spending
Let’s acknowledge one fact: budget gaps will not be filled with new revenue. They can shrink with new or increased fees and taxes, but the bulk will have to come through government streamlining to reduce spending. What’s important is to undertake what could amount to a massive restructuring process and be able to do so with minimal negative impact to citizens.
So how does the rank and file help to minimize the impact of shrinking or discontinued services, along with the overall deficits themselves? Through their knowledge, and sharing and debating that knowledge with others to build upon thoughtful ideas that lead to more efficient use of financial and human resources.
The purpose of a government employee social network is to distinguish programs and ongoing processes by their ROI both to government and to citizens. This applies to finding those Best Practices as well as those initiatives that are inefficient or even wasteful.
As stewards of those programs and services, government employees have the knowledge, experience and expertise for their respective roles in delivering them. So, where best to start to identify productive and non-productive operations? Just ask.
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