What Gov 2.0 Needs Now: Managers, Money and Models


GovLoop is proud to have HP as one of its 2010 Partners.


Many in the government 2.0 community are taking stock of the current state of the movement, asking questions like:

The fact that members of the movement are asking these questions is a clear sign that something is changing, as if we’re moving from one phase to another.

That’s why HP’s latest survey, conducted on September 7-8, 2010, with just over 100 IT professionals, is timely and telling. Here are a few of the findings (full survey results can be found at the bottom of this post):

  • 76% feel that they understand what Gov 2.0 entails
  • 2/3 believe Gov 2.0 will improve their agency
  • Social networks are the most commonly used tools
  • Security concerns are the main barrier to adoption
  • Improved public services is top reason to adopt

What I found the most interesting about the survey – and where I gained inspiration for the title of this post – are the top three ways to encourage Gov 2.0 in an agency:

  • 31% said “management takes the lead”
  • 26% said “increase technology budget”
  • 16% said examples of corporate best practices”

In essence, it comes down to managers, money and models. To be honest, these needs aren’t new. In fact, if HP had conducted this same poll 2 years ago, they would have received most of the same answers, including “demonstrate ROI or other benefits (15%)” and “consulting by outside social media experts (7%).” It’s the second reason that strikes me as the most significant shift.

Why? Two years ago, the main emphasis was not so much on getting an allocation for social media and associated technology as a line-item in the budget. We were all enamored with the fact that these tools were free! In fact, “low cost solution” was probably among the top three reasons that most people used to make the case for early adoption.

What we’ve discovered is that these tools are not “free.” They cost an agency primarily in the staff time required to develop, maintain and measure them effectively. And if an agency really wants to take the tools and technology to the next level, there is a cost associated with integrating them into traditional marketing, information technology and human resource

So the three main questions for the government 2.0 movement at this stage can be summed up as follows:

  1. Are your managers on board yet?
  2. Did you successfully advocate for funding in the FY 2011 budget and, if so, how are you using it (or, if not, why not?)?
  3. Do we have an easily searchable repository of best practices that present multiple paths to successful execution?

Ultimately, 65% of respondents said “Gov 2.0 will improve my agency.” If we really believe that to be true, then it’s time to get the managers, money and models on board in order to avoid a sophomore slump and to sustain the movement’s momentum.

Leave a Comment


Leave a Reply

Daniel Bevarly


You have covered the three key ingredients on the government side to establishing a sustainable structure of Gov 2.0 within the walls of bureaucracies. Understandably, this survey contains the feedback of IT professionals who are focused on the tasks at hand.

Government is still challenged with Gov 2.0 adoption among citizens as recipients of these services and as participants in the government process. So, can I add one more “M” word to the list? That would be “motivation.” That is, harnessing the interest and engagement of constituents. I would expect that any “corporate best practice” we identify would include among its metrics a success factor that focused on the customer, either through increased sales, brand awareness or what have you.

Andrea Schneider

Makes sense when talking about adoption of new technology. I’m still asking, what about the rest of the Open Government construct? I never, in a million years, thought the whole point was about technology.

No doubt Gov 2.0 will make a difference in making parts of government more efficient, and over time, will become second nature in communities. There is a whole information and education campaign needed helping citizens use it and for local, state and federal agencies to see why it’s worth the expenditure.

Is the entire Open Government initiative really all about Gov 2.0? Is that because that’s where the money is? Gov 2.0 will help us with transparency and a number of other key variables, but when did the entire directive become technology driven?

Avatar photo Bill Brantley

Great points! I think another issue standing in the way of adopting Gov 2.0 technologies is the agencies current IT infrastructure. When I first came to OPM, I did several presentations on wikis that were well-received. I was able to show the benefits of wikis with concrete examples of best practices such as Diplopedia. Several offices were interested and I thought we could move forward due to the fact that the web team already had a home-built wiki in place.

The problem was that there was no money to further develop the home-built wiki and there was resistance to using open source solutions such as Mediawiki. In fact, there was some concern over the use of my personal servers to host the Mediawiki I used in my demos.

The agencies IT departments have a vested interest in maintaining their domain over the IT infrastructure and they will not easily yield to Gov 2.0 pioneers who want to take advantage of readily-available open source tools to bring about Gov 2.0. It seems as if we are caught in a Catch-22 in that we can’t really demonstrate to managers the advantages of Gov 2.0 without implementing the technologies in-house but, to override the IT department’s resistance, managers have to be convinced of the advantages of Gov 2.0 technologies.

Andrew Krzmarzick

@Dan – Good thought and like the 4th “M.” I think it’s a case of need for motivation both among constituents and there’s still evangelization that needs to happen within agencies.

@Andrea – I am completely with you on that fact that I feel like the Gov 2.0 and Open Gov movements have been strongly linked to technology and data….but in my mind, it’s really about culture change. Less technology, more psychology and sociology. Social media/mobile apps are enablers and drivers…but the real change needs to happen among humans and human resources.

Andrew Krzmarzick

@Bill – Regarding the ‘Catch-22’ you mention…is that where “models” become useful? Is it helpful for managers to see successful case studies before spending any money?

Overall: One quick caveat is that I don’t think a bunch of money needs to be spent on some of the open source tools since most of those options are still free…where I would emphasize placing the money is in staffing to truly engage with the public.

Andrew Wilson

Good points and a discussion that is important to have. I would argue that we may be in a phase where the low hanging fruit are harder to come by. Setting up a Facebook page, adding an RSS feed or posting content to data.gov are fairly straightforward. Issues that are more complex and that require either more technical sophistication or “re-networking” of internal process will take time. Persistence of effort will be key.

Andrew Krzmarzick

Great point, @Andrew. I suppose all of the initial excitement and energy has given way to “We’ve done all the ‘easy’ stuff. Now what?” So we’re dug in and trying to make things better…less time to talk about it…more focused on just doing it.

Justin Herman

I can tell you definitely that money, managers and models are all in the immediate works. By January 1 all this talk of is Gov20/OpenGov in a slump will disappear into the archives like old Tweets.

Avatar photo Bill Brantley

@Andrew – I wish it was enough to show models but I think that the fourth M (motivation) that Dan mentions is also needed. Agencies have a lot invested in their current infrastructure and a great demo is just not enough to convince managers that they need to make the cultural change and technology change to move toward Gov 2.0.

Dr. Kerzner (noted project management expert) observed that it often takes a major crisis for organizations to embrace project management because they finally realized that the current methods aren’t working and they have to try something new. Fear is a great motivator but getting to that point is so wasteful.

What we need is positive motivation before the other three Ms can kick in.

Jeffrey Levy

I think education is still the #1 barrier. Specifically, “how can my office/program/unit do this stuff?” At least at EPA, it’s not security. I think Andrew Wilson got it right.

Andrew Krzmarzick

@Bill – Agree on crisis as motivator…wondering what crisis would spark government to adopt a 2.0 mentality at this point. Fear, it seems, is a greater motivator for avoidance vs. adoption at this point.

@Jeffrey Really glad you chimed in…and I appreciate you mentioning education since that’s my “roots” in the movement. And I enjoyed the couple of times that I was able to support and reinforce your efforts by conducting social media sessions at EPA. I still see my role at GovLoop as an educator – using this as a platform to help people answer each other’s questions…again, thanks for sharing your insights!

Justin Herman

I’m with Jeffrey – I think education and confidence is still a barrier. Perspective too. Security perhaps for some missions, but certainly not permeated throughout.

Steven Goldman

Jeffrey: A question that’s come up often in my division… how do we increase transparency (i.e., talk about the rulemaking process or guidance development, engage w/the public) while mitigating risk in a strictly regulatory agency/department/group?

Education and confidence are certainly barriers — people blanch at both cost and staff time requirements — but the biggest barrier I’ve run into fear of overexposure. How has anyone else on here dealt with this in their orgs/agencies?

Angela Sanchez

@Steven – Fear of overexposure is a key factor at my agency. Even with a blazingly successful Facebook page, admin still threatens to shut down the page any time a sticky issue arises with public outcry. Ultimately, my agency doesn’t want full transparency or honesty – with the public or our own employees. I have to admit it’s discouraging.

Joe Flood

Surprised that no one has mentioned culture yet. There’s a core group of gov folks passionately interested in social media. The larger body of employees looks at it as just another requirement. Education is key, as Jeff pointed out, to making this larger group comfortable with Gov 2.0.

Andrew Krzmarzick

@Steven and @Angela – I think it would be interesting to define overexposure. What does that mean, really? TMI? Loss of message control?

@Joe – Spot on. I think Gov 2.0 is actually more about culture change than it is about technology. Yes, web and mobile tech are drivers…but we’re talking about a new way of being – both internally and externally – in which information sharing is rewarded (vs. information hoarding).

Avatar photo Bill Brantley

@Andrew – Culture Change is important but I see that more as a result of the 4 Ms (Motivation, Mangers, Money, and Models). Cultural change emerges from interactions of the entire organization and you just can’t mandate it or plan it. Managers can guide it but it requires the energy from the employees to initiate and sustain it. I agree with Joe that there is a change vanguard who want Gov 2.0 but that is necessary and not sufficient to bring about the cultural change for Gov 2.0.

Darron Passlow

Applying innovation to change management is the key to success here. (refer the Toyota Way)
We need to be educating governments on the benefits of applying innovation (techniques and practices) with the bottom up drivers and the top down support.

Angela Sanchez

@Andrew – Overexposure for us means revealing ulterior motives, political motivations, and agency practices the general public doesn’t support. We’ve taken a beating through social media channels and traditional media lately.

The problem with social media is it demands interaction and accountability. My social media team and I are often caught in the middle between unhappy taxpayers demanding answers and our admin and legal personnel forbidding open discussion.

Andrew Krzmarzick

Thanks for your, uh, openness, @Angela 😉 It’s not as simple as having a series of talking points or FAQs that you work from, eh? Covey’s “Speed of Trust” is becoming more and more prophetic/relevant…

David G. Smith

There needs to be a balance – while it’s absolutely vital and critical to promote innovation, when you get the thousand flowers blooming wildly, it can lead to stovepipes, disconnects, and poorly-leveraged investments. Agencies need people who are truly big-picture thinkers to coordinate and focus efforts, and to connect the dots so that the innovations can build upon each other as a greater whole, rather than having efforts all just crowd each other and bleed the life out of each other.

In the current government environment, it’s no longer simply enough to build a better mousetrap – that better mousetrap also has to be able to directly align with mission efforts, and ideally also have replicatability, scalability, and provide benefit across a broader range of agency efforts – and potentially benefit other agencies, the public, academia, industry as well. We need to elevate thinking beyond just the immediate task at hand.

Paola Wolowitz

What we need is transparency from all angles. if we could do a wikileaks style GOV 2.0 site, we would be taking a huge step forward.