“people expect government to be available when and where they want them to be”
But are they willing to pay for that access? Sooner or later effective customer service and citizen engagement requires subjective judgement skills that cannot be automated whether by traditional IT approaches or new media. You need to have real live humans in the feedback loop and they expect to collect a salary for their services. At a certain point, public officials have to ask whether it is a worthwhile expenditure of tax reveunes to conduct yet another townhall, listening session, webcast, blog, tweet stream or whatever to solicit feedback from what is usually a very small number of unrepresentative activists. If all they are doing is soliciting comments for the record, it is a waste of time and money. But if they are actually employing public employees to analyse and respond to the input, costs can go off the charts. How much do we want to spend communicating with a very small fraction of constituents?