This group aims to explore the potential long-term impacts & changes in governance systems we can expect from embedding openness & engagement into government activities
Wil Government 2.0 lead to the end of current agency hierarchical structures?
December 5, 2010 at 6:43 am #117210
December 5, 2010 at 7:07 am #117216
I really think that the only way to end hierarchical command and control structures is with conscious thought and planning. It is a worthy objective and something to work towards. But not for its own sake, rather for the sake of the citizens and the public servants. We need to restructure our government organisations to better suit human beings than bureaucracies and machines.
December 5, 2010 at 3:22 pm #117214
Craig, I think that’s the wrong question. Kate’s answer comes nearer to the real issue. It’s society that’s changing while governments reaction is slow. This change does not come from within government, it’s just agencies trying to cope with changes in society. I think your reasoning should start there.
This of course does not mean we shouldn’t try to bring change into governments. I started Civil Servant 2.0 in the Netherlands with that goal in mind. But although over 5000 civil servants joined our network, change is still slow. The revolutionary change you’re talking about, will have another starting point.
Looking at what these outside starting points might be:
1. Citizens collaborating, solving problems and taking up community action. More often than not they will ignore agencies because the react too slow and impose too many rules. Government will have to adapt to them in order to stay in the game and perform their function;
2. New organizational patterns in business, e.g. independent professionals working in swarms or flocks, very flexibel and always changing. In order to cooperate with these networks, agencies will have to change as well, e.g. become more flexible;
3. It’s not about agencies but about the tasks they perform. More and more these tasks will be done in collaboration with citizens or groups, e.g. police texting people in a certain area to help looking for a burglar. Agencies need an external focus to be able to use these methods;
4. Companies building upon open government data and delivering a better service than the agency does. However, these services are not connected to the government infrastructure. Open connections, open standards, etc. will be necessary to connect and keep the administration up to date.
The main change will be to organize agencies around external connections, not internal processes or politics, as they usually are nowadays. The first results of that change of focus are now visible in the Dutch government in the fact that civil servants are allowed to expand their online networks and participate in discussions about policies (within boundaries of course).
This decision was not taken by a higher management team with the aim of becoming a government 2.0 and using the potential within society, etc. They were sanctioning what was already happening. And that will be the path of change for governments, I’m afraid. At least when it comes to official policies and structures.
In the meanwhile individual civil servants will walk ahead of the pack and show 2.0 behaviour a lot sooner. There are lots of interesting examples and projects. This group will grow. Especially when the generation that’s currently growing up (in a 2.0 environment) will enter the job market. Then we’ll see big steps being made.
So perhaps our strategy should be to try and detect where changes in society are pushing against the current governmental structures and present government agencies with solutions to remedy the situation.
December 5, 2010 at 3:59 pm #117212
@craig – This is not aimed at you but I just have a general reaction when I hear that hierarchy is dead and that our new networked world will bring about new forms of government/business/relationships/etc.
1) Why can’t the current hierarchical forms adapt to the new realities? Do we have to totally scuttle the old forms?
2) What SPECIFICALLY are the new forms? How and who will build them? Why will they be universally accepted?
3) What happens in the meantime as the old forms die off and the new forms are still being built?
Humans are remarkably adept at mixing the old and new into their lives. For example, the Internet has led to a revitalization of many ancient religions such as Druidism because it makes easier for followers to find and communicate with each other. You also have the ironic use of the new technologies to spread information about weaning yourself off the “Grid.” As China demonstrates the same technologies can increase the power of command-and-control in response to rebels who want to open up the Chinese state.
Personally, I don’t think we can imagine what government will look like in 2020 given how much is changing now.
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