Response to the Government 2.0 Report

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Today I am pleased to announce the next step in the Rudd Government’s agenda to utilise Web 2.0 technologies to deliver better services to, and facilitate greater engagement with, Australians by releasing our response to the Government 2.0 Taskforce report. The Taskforce’s report recommended changes to a range of areas, including co-ordinated leadership, guidance, support and recognition for agencies and public servants engaging online, and the important considerations of accessibility and security.

In forming their report, the Taskforce undertook extensive work in consulting online and in person; considering submissions from individuals and organisations; and eventually delivering a thorough and informative report. For this, I would once again like to thank the Taskforce’s Chair Dr Nicholas Gruen, the Taskforce members and all those who contributed for their efforts.

The Government’s response to this report, which Senator Ludwig and I released today, shows twelve of the report’s 13 recommendations were generally agreed to.  We have deferred our response to one recommendation about tax deductibility for information philanthropy until it can be considered in the context of the review of Australia’s Future Tax System and the research report on the Contribution of the Not-for-Profit Sector.

The Taskforce’s central recommendation was that the Australian Government make a declaration of open government. The Rudd Government has accepted this recommendation and we expect to make such a declaration in the coming months.

Whilst today is the completion of one phase, it is also very much the beginning of a new one. The task now is to implement these changes, beginning with assisting agencies to make the most of the opportunities offered by Web 2.0.

This blog is one of the first examples of what is possible, providing a forum for issues surrounding Government use of ICT.   There is no doubt that the Australian Government will increasingly be looking for ICT solutions to 21st century challenges.  There is also no doubt that not all of those solutions are going to come from inside government.  That is what Gov 2.0 is all about, sharing information and engaging with citizens to determine better ways of doing things.

I will be closely monitoring the progress of our Gov 2.0 agenda across the rest of the Government and expect my department and its people to drive these reforms and hope that you will continue making contributions to this process via this blog.

The internet and collaborative technologies offer significant scope for the Government to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery, public administration and community engagement. I look forward to realising those improvements through our Gov 2.0 agenda.

Comments (18)

A sincere and energetic effort by government to engage citizenry in order to develop relevant and up-to-date policy. I've enjoyed watching the Australian Gov 2.0 story unfold. Keep up the good work!

This is a great step forward in the gov 2 process. The response is exactly the right trigger for innovation.

The promised high-level statement is going to be key and it is important that it is very clear in where the 'line' is. Hopefully the statement will not be vague.

The APS will need a clear drawing of the line. I believe that this needs to be done from the exclusions angle. What is not to be open. Then everything outside of the exclusion can therefore safely be assumed to be 'safe'.

This is, as the TaskForce detailed, a huge culture shift and the natural tendency will be for agencies to err back on the side of caution. The top-level statement needs to be very clear about this.

I also see that there needs to be a very careful process of explaining the new game to the public. A new 'covenent' or understanding needs to be generated between gov and the people where the gov is clear on what transparency means and the people, over time, come to accept that the new open gov may well make some mistakes on the way.

As far as possible, the gov needs to extend this leniency twoard mistakes into the APS. Otherwise, innovation will soon become a feared path.

Somehow, politics need be removed from the equation and that will be a slow and difficult process. In the end, sticking to offical gov policy should be enough to ensure that the APS can find its feet in the new open gov. Perhaps this can be mandated in the statement.

Again, a great response from the gov and a testimont to the AGIMO driven process.

Good to see the formal response to an excellent body of work finally released. As you can imagine, there is already significant Agency interest in following through with many people I come into contact with keen to be in the 'early adopter' tranche.

I note in the response to 4.5 that the approach proposed to be taken by Government to providing an online forum to register Agency initiatives will be restricted to an internal government audience for sharing experiences of Gov2.0 implementations, which seems to run against the overall grain and intent.

I'm well aware that there will be plenty of entities in the NGO and State /Territory government sectors, assisted by their own ecosystems of suppliers, who are also keen to draw on lessons learnt. Why keep this material closed? Curious..

The response of Government to the report is, in many respects visionary. It is good that the question of the culture of the public service has been picked up.

However, a key part of that challenge is, in fact, associated with the quite outdated ways in which the human resource and organisational development areas go about grappling with culture shifts. Read more >>>

The link included in my previous post seems to be blocked. Which is probably symptomatic of the cultural problem. So here it is (hopefully) >>>

I just noticed an article stating that the government had not gone far enough in responding to the Gov 2.0 Taskforce Report. Essentially not fast enough and not open enough seems to be the main gripe.

I can't say I agree with this at all. The way the report was put together and the degree of openness has been acknowledged as being world class. Certainly, everyone active in this space would like to move faster. However, as per my previous two posts the big challenge is organisational culture. (And, no I'm not forgetting the IT related issues).

Picking up on the learnings from the way the Taskforce and many other went about their work, I think we really need to harness the ideas many people to get the sorts of changes needed. To get to that point one of the key things that everyone could do now is start contributing to the AGIMO Blog right now.

Today, I'll be encouraging my professional collegues to do just that.

Note: My views do not necessarily reflect any official views that may be held by the APS agency I work for.

you could start with just the bare basics: many of the RSS feeds offered by the Federal Government are completely incorrect, and do not meet the base RSS specifications, especially as regards the pubDate entity.

It's a bit difficult to believe anything said about moving forward, when the government is unable to get very simple basics such as this correct.

The problem with Web 2.0 stuff is it can (and often does) disappear as fast as it is generated. In the supposedly bad old days when you made a submission, the letter and probably the response went into a file. Government kept important things like forever. You can still read submissions to the 1942 Dairying Industry Inquiry if you want.

The problem with government web sites is they change after every election even if the government is returned. If Web 2.0 is going to be The Way for engagement between government and citizens, how can we be sure that submissions from individuals (like this one I'm writing now) won't be deleted at the whim by a future government?

There will be room, I hope, as the wider government 2.0 project moves forward in its various elements for greater use of 'inside/outside' mechanisms that deliberately blend external perspectives and expertise with skills and resources from inside government.

Much as with the Govt 2.0 Task Force itself, and along the lines of the implementation group that the UK Government set up to respond to the Power of Information Task Force, there would be merit in experimenting with different hybrid models that go beyond consultation and even this kind of blog-based conversation (which is essential in its own right). The more we can get used to drawing on structural mixed models of work and implementation that keep eroding some of the less helpful distinctions between insiders and outsiders, the better.

Good progress and as we know citizen engagement is an important element of government service delivery, and online tools may provide a unique opportunity to engage. However, it is important that our agencies not only focus on using tools because they exist; they need to think through how these tools can support deep engagement, and create conditions that allow citizens to participate in a meaningful and impactful way.

My blog ( has a series of eight strategic Social Media recommendations which are designed to increase the chances of success for governments which attempt to develop a Social Media presence.

Building on the comment about supporting 'deep engagement' I believe that what we need is a Common Charter for Citizen : Public Servant Engagement. That would build nicely on the statement on open government - when Government issues it.

I suspect we tend to assume that the moderation, blog rules etc will take care of everything. However, given the democratising influence of the technology I believe we need to, as it were, get the environment right for engagement for all. A common charter for all is one way of doing this.


A practical thought for the day folks. I have noticed that some of the links to external sites and people are blocked or coached within some APS Agencies.

This is one area that needs to be addressed if we are to open up conversation. At one stage even the site of the Gov 2.0 Taskforce was blocked or coached. Eventually resolved, but it does highlight the problems and challenges we face.

In my broad experience this sort of action - blocking or coaching sites - is a decision taken by corporate HR/OD areas. The very areas that, from an organisational development perspective, talked about 'learning organisations' and 'self regulating systems'. Very odd indeed.

We need a more inclusive approach to what sites should not be blocked. Arbitrarily blocking social networking sites is overkill and an unhealthy cultural marker.

So how about we all start compiling a list of OK sites. Here are a few from me to get the ball rolling:

ePracice, Govloop, Govzine, Centre for Policy Development, Youtube, SlideShare, eGovAU, OZloop.

That's the practical aspect, but how about a common APS wide policy on this? And, given the impact of the current situation on Gov 2.0, what better space to work on this collectively than the AGIMO blog.

What does everyone think? And barring pornography etc shouldn't the default position be 'open'?

Given the role of Gov 2.0 in facilitating greater engagment with the community, the latest utterances over the mining tax raise some interesting questions about the discussion of social and economic issues in the Gov 2.0 space by the community. (Well, all of us)

Should community input and discussion be facilitated by political parties outside this space? Pretty much status quo.

Is this something that should be facilitated in an impartial and transparent way by the public service? This is where the logic takes us.

How, if at all possible, do we take the party political dimension out of these sorts of issues?

What would you do with the views and comments expressed by citizens?

Obviously early days yet, but my concern is that these are issues and possibilities that should be considered and addressed soon so that we stay ahead of the game. I'm not sure folks, but I suspect this does come back to the question of a Gov 2.0 charter.

Maybe we should test the waters on all this by actively engaging the community to explore and address these questions. (Face-to-face and online).

Cheers - Steve Davies

I think this is a great initiative by the Government and pleased to see this policy is progressing at a steady rate.

The US government has been doing this for some time with much success, UK also and many other governments are sure to follow.

I am a keen commentator and have already blogged about the initial progress of Gov2.0 -

Keep up the great work guys and i will be blogging further about this topic as more unfolds on my blog

Best Regards,

The common thread running through the the reports on APS Reform, Innovation and Gov 2.0 is the need to change and improve the culture of public sector organisations.

I have been doing some thinking on that issue and have put together something on that very issue. Available here >>>

It is on YouTube so depending on your work place you may have to forward the link to your home address. The presentation is called Culture change for Gov 2.

The bottom line on the presentation is that we should take an inclusive approach to the question of organisational culture by using social media tools and that the traditional approaches typically used by human resource and organisational development areas have had their day.

Last Friday I took part in the Open Gov Un-Conference

It was an interesting day. Great conversation with great people.

I raised the idea of citizens being able to rate open data etc placed online by agencies. Someone then added the idea of agencies rating their data themselves when posting it and looking at the comparison. Criteria could be along the lines of currency, accuracy, citizen friendly, useful. Personally, I think there something around social utility or value that needs exploring.

Our group also had some discussion concerning citizen : public servant engagement. In a nutshell, it was pretty much a shared view that we need to be more deliberate and strategic about getting people into the gov 2.0 space. Personally, I think sitting and waiting for people to 'get the Gov 2.0 bug' is not good enough. To make it work we need, I guess, a citizen engagement strategy. And we can't leave public servants out of that.

Is APS employee engagement via social media (and active participation) a necessary precondition of building a culture of citizen engagement in the APS? Read on

Comments on this post have been closed during the election period. For more information please see this post about the Caretaker Conventions.

Last updated: 27 July 2016