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Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0

Report of the Government 2.0 Taskforce

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Letter from Nicholas Gruen to the Hon. Lindsay Tanner MP and Senator the Hon. Joseph Ludwig

The Hon. Lindsay Tanner, MP
Minister for Finance and Deregulation
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Senator the Hon Joseph Ludwig
Special Minister of State and Cabinet Secretary
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Ministers

Having now completed our task, it is my happy duty to provide you with the report you commissioned from the taskforce in June. It has been a busy period and we have achieved a lot.

We have consulted with people far and wide, within Australia and beyond, in search of their views and insights. We have also tried to bring them into our own thinking as it was developing by publicly discussing our evolving ideas and progress on our blog and in other forums.

There has been a growing sense of excitement that something genuinely fresh might emerge from our endeavours. One unusual feature of this inquiry has been your injunction to us to work with others to fund and develop seed projects that demonstrate the potential of the changes we would advocate.

If there was any doubt that this was ‘business as usual’ it would surely have been dispelled for those who attended the GovHack weekend in Canberra. Now common outside government, this was the first government run such event in the world. Over 100 people came from around the country and worked through the weekend — many not stopping for sleep — to build online tools to show what Government 2.0 could be like. The members of the winning team got on so well that each had imagined that all the other members of their team were good friends. Only just before receiving their prize they discovered that they had all been strangers at the outset of the weekend!

The results of our MashupAustralia competition of which GovHack was a small part have been a revelation. Indeed, several public agencies have lamented to me privately that they had only recently redeveloped their own websites largely unaware of the power of drawing in the ideas and enthusiasm of the community as we had done.

In addition to the pride we had in the success of these events, we are proud of this report. The draft released just over two weeks ago garnered uncommon praise from some people from around the world for whom we have the greatest respect. We have been mindful to craft the recommendations with the transition they must make into government policy. John Sheridan in the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) was particularly helpful in that respect.

And we hope we have produced a report of ideas. Our subject matter — government and the use of Web 2.0 tools and approaches — is moving with dizzying speed. As a consequence, our challenge has been to avoid the gimmickry of the latest fad in favour of outlining how the new approaches might reinvigorate the time-honoured and hard-won traditions of modern democratic government.

Thanks to Peter Alexander and his team from the secretariat. Following what I fear might have been their initial shock at the speed and magnitude of our task they responded with dedication and good grace. I am sincerely grateful also to Michael Griffith from Minister Tanner’s office for his solicitude for the cause of Government 2.0.

For a group of people who produced a report on how to harness the wisdom of the crowd, it was perhaps appropriate that we were something of a crowd ourselves. Fifteen in all. Some would have predicted such a group to be unwieldy. But it has not been so. It was a wonderfully productive and diverse mix of experience and expertise, talents and temperaments, a mix which in my opinion has been not only capable of good ideas but also of good judgement.

It was a privilege and a pleasure to work with these people and I’m sure I speak for them all when I thank you sincerely for your faith in us.


Nicholas Gruen
Government 2.0 Taskforce
22 December 2009

What's in a name?

‘Engage’ distills in one word the key theme of Government 2.0:

Thus getting to Government 2.0 requires leaders to engage with what is for many, an unfamiliar and challenging agenda. Are we up to it? Ultimately, the invitation to engage is an invitation to get involved and get things done so that Australia can reap the rewards.

Copyright Notice

Notwithstanding the general copyright licence provided for on, this report, its logo and front page design are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia licence [External Site]. To the extent that copyright subsists in third party quotes and diagrams it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material.

The report should be attributed as the Government 2.0 Taskforce Report; the logo and front page graphic should be attributed to Ben Crothers of Catch Media.1

Inquiries regarding the licence and any use of the report are welcome at:

Assistant Secretary
Online Services Branch
Australian Government Information Management Office
Department of Finance and Deregulation
John Gorton Building
King Edward Terrace Parkes ACT 2600

Next section: Key points and Executive summary


  1. The taskforce sincerely thanks Ben Crothers of Catch Media for designing our logo and cover graphic, [External Site].

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Last Modified: 12 February, 2010