Government 2.0 Policy in AustralianBackgroundUntil 2007 the concept of Government 2.0 was largely unknown or disregarded i...
Formation of an Australian Government 2.0 policyThe Australian Government set foot on the path to a Government 2.0 policy ...
Complementary government policies and activitiesThroughout 2009 a series of other activities across the Australian Governm...
Introduction of an Australian Government Government 2.0 policyThe first months of 2010 heralded a slow period for Governme...
transparency in government “with the principal objects of promoting a pro-disclosure cultureacross the Government and buil...
government and improve the outcomes sought. Collaboration with citizens is to be enabled        and encouraged. Agencies a...
of Health and Ageing.Online engagement is increasingly playing a part in public consultations, with blogs beingemployed to...
design, develop and manage Government 2.0 initiatives. The signs of this are evident in the use ofGovspace. Firstly, many ...
audience to technically skilled citizens. However, reflecting this against the experience in the UKand US, it may be appro...
might become a key source of tension, with the free release of some of this information tantamountto the reduction of barr...
normalise its use.Where existing guidance may struggle to extend to new channels and approaches to engagement,guidance and...
At most levels within the Australian Public Service it is possible to find Government 2.0 leaders,meaning that senior exec...
The first reporting year is 2010-2011 and, as such, this reporting has not yet begun.The metric of agency activity may pro...
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Gov 2.0 policy in australia v2

  1. 1. Government 2.0 Policy in AustralianBackgroundUntil 2007 the concept of Government 2.0 was largely unknown or disregarded in Australia, withgovernments pursing existing egovernment policies designed to streamline processes and reducecosts by providing online alternatives to common agency transactions.During the 2007 Federal election social media first appeared in Australias national politicalspotlight. Numerous candidates, in particular the Australian Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd,employed social media to communicate with and engage citizens.A variety of organisations and commentators also deployed social media and Government 2.0 toolsdesigned to assist the public to understand and debate electoral issues. This included GooglesFederal Election map and YouTube channel1, a precursor of similar tools used in the 2008 USPresidential election.Some commentators termed the 2007 Federal election “Australias First Social Media Election”2,and the impact of social media on the outcome, a Labor victory unseating the incumbent Liberal-National Coalition, has been widely scrutinised. Studies of the election results indicate that therewas a strong positive correlation between candidate success and the level of social mediaengagement and that a normalisation of the internet as an information gathering and engagementtool was taking place across the community3.The potential scope of social media and Government 2.0 became clearer following the USs 2008Presidential election. Senator Obamas campaign was studied closely by Australian politicians andsocial media commentators. In Australia politicians began to appreciate that social media couldhave profound influence on electioneering. This stronger confidence in the online channel alsosupported Australian public servants to more openly begin exploring official use of social media forcommunication and engagement purposes and a number of government departments began pilotsocial media initiatives to support and complement their existing media and engagement strategies.During 2008 several Australian state governments began considering or developing policies relatedto social media use. Federally the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) released Circular2008/08: Interim protocols for online media participation4 which provided advice supportive ofsocial media engagement by federal agencies and public servants.1 2007 Australian Federal Election – Google Australia – Australias First Social Media Election – John Johnson – JJProjects blog – 5 Moments When Digital Media Transformed Australian Politics – Julie Posetti, PBS Media Shift – Crossing the Web 2.0 Frontier? Candidates and Campaigns Online in the Australian Federal Election of 2007* – Rachel K. Gibson & Ian McAllister – Do Online Election Campaigns Win Votes? The 2007 Australian YouTube Election – Anon – Circular 2008/8: Interim protocols for online media participation – APSC –
  2. 2. Formation of an Australian Government 2.0 policyThe Australian Government set foot on the path to a Government 2.0 policy in mid-2009.This began with the creation of the Government 2.0 Taskforce, announced on 22 June 2009 by thenMinister for Finance and Deregulation, Lindsay Tanner MP and Special Minister of State, SenatorJoe Ludwig at a Government 2.0 Public Sphere5 organised by the office of Senator Kate Lundy.The Ministers affirmed the Australian Governments recognition of the pace of technologicalchange, the growing impact of the internet on Australian society and the increasing opportunities touse online media for collaboration with the community as well as for information dissemination6.The Taskforce was mandated to define Government 2.0 in an Australian context and providerecommendations on key policies and processes. It included 15 members from across public, not-for-profit and private sectors7 and was chaired by Dr Nicholas Gruen. Secretariat support wasprovided by the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO), part of theDepartment of Finance and Deregulation.Establishing a significant Web 2.0 presence to engage public servants and citizens, the Taskforcestepped beyond the usual bounds of a government consultation and report process to illustrate howpublic consultations could be held within a Government 2.0 context.The consultation and engagement process employed by the Taskforce used crowd sourcing, blogs,Twitter, an idea prioritisation engine, collaborative editing and involved releasing documents indraft formats in a highly transparent process. This also led to several failures. There was a limiteddegree of engagement with the Taskforces Facebook page and mixed success in crowd sourcingtranscriptions of recorded presentations. These failures served to support the process by providingpractical examples of how, and how not to, design and manage Government 2.0 consultation andengagement processes.The Taskforce commissioned a number of research and development projects8 to inform agenciesand design tools and processes that could be reused by future Australian Government 2.0 initiatives.The project outputs were released under open copyright licenses to ensure they would be freelyavailable for reuse and extension by government agencies.The primary work of the Government 2.0 Taskforce was to develop a guidance andrecommendation report for the Australian Government. This was completed and released inDecember 2009 as the Engage: Getting on with Government 2.09This report outlined thirteen recommendations for the development of Government 2.0 policy andpractice in Australia for consideration.5 Public Sphere #2 – Government 2.0: Policy and Practice – Senator Kate Lundy – Speech: Launch of the Government 2.0 Taskforce – Lindsay Tanner – launch-of-the-government-2-0-taskforce/7 Government 2.0 Taskforce Membership – Government 2.0 Taskforce – Government 2.0 Taskforce Project outputs – Government 2.0 Taskforce – Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0 report – Government 2.0 Taskforce –
  3. 3. Complementary government policies and activitiesThroughout 2009 a series of other activities across the Australian Government saw significantgrowth in the awareness and use of Government 2.0, including data transparency.Both the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Geosciences Australia began releasing public dataunder Creative Commons open licenses and, in support of a Taskforce data mash-up competition,AGIMO launched the beta site with a range of reusable government datasets.Prime Minister Kevin Rudd launched a new Prime Ministers website ( with asignificant focus on social media through blogs, online chats and Twitter, serving as a practicalexample of the approach being encouraged across the Australian Government.The Department of Health and Ageing released the yourHealth website ( asa Government 2.0 engagement vehicle for the national health reform consultation process, featuringpublic blogs, polls, video submissions and comment mechanisms.The Australian Tax Office (ATO) announced an SME Tax Forum ( toallow small and medium enterprises to“directly provide insights and perspectives to the ATO ontaxation and business issues.” The Forum allowed businesses to provide feedback on tax matters,interact in a closed community and participate in online discussions with senior tax officials.The Department of Broadband, Communication and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) launched aclosed youth group, allowing over 300 secondary students from across Australia to participate inonline discussions regarding cyber-bullying, privacy, illegal content and other youth issues10. Inlaunching the initiative Minister Stephen Conroy stated that “The Youth Advisory Group is a uniqueopportunity for young people to contribute to policy development by advising the Government oncyber-safety concerns and solutions.”In November 2009 the Australian Public Service Commission cancelled its interim online mediaparticipation Circular, replacing it with Circular 2009/6: Protocols for online media participation11.The new circular took a more proactive stance towards social media engagement by AustralianGovernment agencies and public servants, stating that, “Web 2.0 provides public servants with unprecedented opportunities to open up government decision making and implementation to contributions from the community. In a professional and respectful manner, APS employees should engage in robust policy conversations.”Also during 2009, proactive public servants began forming unofficial communities of practicearound Government 2.0 and social media to share information and expertise. These included theGovernment 2.0 Australia Group (, APS OzLoop( and the Online Communicators Forum* A hashtag #gov2au wasestablished on Twitter ( to group discussions and shareinformation on initiatives. All of these groups remain active, to a greater or lesser extent, today andhave been joined by several official communities.10 Media Release: Youth to advise Government on cyber-bullying and cyber-threats – Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy – Circular 2009/6: Protocols for online media participation – APSC –
  4. 4. Introduction of an Australian Government Government 2.0 policyThe first months of 2010 heralded a slow period for Government 2.0 in Australian Government.While existing activities continued, few new initiatives were introduced as departments waited forguidance from the Government in its response to the Government 2.0 Taskforces report.In May 2010 the Australian Government formally issued a Government Response. Twelve of thethirteen recommendations in the Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0 report were formallyaccepted and, for the most part, endorsed by the Australian Government in the GovernmentResponse to the Report of the Government 2.0 Taskforce12. The final recommendation, “Encourageinfo-philanthropy”, was deferred pending the outcome of other Government reviews.The report and the Governments response received significant praise both in Australia andinternationally from respected commentators. For example Italian-based Gartner VP DistinguishedAnalyst Andrea Di Maio posted in his blog “Australia Beats the US Again on Government 2.0”13; “if the Aussies walk the talk, they have a very good chance to be the real leaders in the Gov 2.0 / Open Government race”.The same period saw the formal inclusion of Government 2.0 considerations in another three majorreform processes led by the Australian Government, providing a strong basis for further action.On 8 May 2010 the government formally accepted the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinetreport on public service reform, Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for Reform of AustralianGovernment Administration14.The report flagged the use of Government 2.0 in Section 2, “Creating more open government”,which included the recommendations that the government should, “2.1 Enable citizens to collaborate with government in policy and service design Develop and implement new approaches to collaboration and consultation with citizens on policy and service delivery issues. Make public sector data available to the wider public in a manner consistent with privacy principles.”The Australian Public Service Management Advisory Committee (MAC) completed its ongoingwork on public sector change and innovation, releasing its report Empowering change: Fosteringinnovation in the Australian Public Service15 in May 2010. Amongst highlighting the need forimproving collaboration, providing support for experimentation and introducing idea managementsystems, all activities that can be enabled through the use of Web 2.0 tools, the report stated in onerecommendation that “agencies should be timely and smart adopters of Web 2.0 tools and approaches”.The third reform process related to the Freedom of Information reform policy taken to the 2007election by the Australian Labor Party.The policy aligned with emerging Government 2.0 thought by strongly supported openness and12 Government Response to the Report of the Government 2.0 – Australian Government – Australia Beats the US Again on Government 2.0 – Andrea Di Maio – Gartner – Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for the Reform of Australian Government Administration – Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet – Empowering change: Fostering innovation in the Australian Public Service – Management Advisory Committee – Australian Public Service Commission –
  5. 5. transparency in government “with the principal objects of promoting a pro-disclosure cultureacross the Government and building a stronger foundation for more openness in government.”16The contingent legislation, the Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010 and Freedom ofInformation Amendment (Reform) Act 2010, were passed into legislation in May 2010 and mostmeasures came into effect from November 2010.By the end of May 2010 Government 2.0 had significant visible political support and momentum inthe Australian Government and several of the recommendations in the Taskforces Engage: Gettingon with Government 2.0 report were already underway.Role of Public AdministrationPublic administration played a central role in the development of the Australian GovernmentsGovernment 2.0 policy, with widespread consultation and reference to existing leadership examplesused to inform the thinking behind the Government 2.0 Taskforces Final Report and the otherreform reports that have complemented the Government 2.0 policy.Following the Governments acceptance of most recommendations in the Final Report, the task ofimplementing the Government 2.0 policy on an ongoing basis has fallen significantly on publicadministration, with oversight through Ministerial offices.Notably much of this work has not been specifically funded, with only a small amount of additionalfunding provided to AGIMO, as lead agency, to coordinate the delivery of the recommendations.This lack of additional funding has had the largest impact in the Freedom of Information (FOI) area,where Departments have been required to modify and update their information publishing processesto meet the new publication requirements, with the potential for agencies to bear significantly morecost across the FOI process.It has also impacted on the area of Accessibility, however as the Australian government has hadmandated accessibility requirements for websites for more than ten years there is less reason foragencies to seek additional funding.Despite the lack of funding support, there has been a significant level of activity directed at meetingthe requirements of the twelve endorsed recommendations from the Engage: Getting on withGovernment 2.0 report.The central recommendation of the report, “A declaration of open government by the AustralianGovernment”, was met on 16 July by then Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Lindsay TannerMP, who released the Declaration17 via AGIMOs blog, stating in part that: “The Australian Government now declares that, in order to promote greater participation in Australia’s democracy, it is committed to open government based on a culture of engagement, built on better access to and use of government held information, and sustained by the innovative use of technology. Citizen collaboration in policy and service delivery design will enhance the processes of16 Freedom of Information (FOI) Reform – Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Australia – Declaration of Open Government – Lindsay Tanner – AGIMO blog –
  6. 6. government and improve the outcomes sought. Collaboration with citizens is to be enabled and encouraged. Agencies are to reduce barriers to online engagement, undertake social networking, crowd sourcing and online collaboration projects and support online engagement by employees, in accordance with the Australian Public Service Commission Guidelines.”As an action from “Recommendation 4: Encourage public servants to engage online”, AGIMObuilt on the work theyd performed as the Secretariat of the Government 2.0 Taskforce anddeveloped an agency blog ( to support ongoing engagement anddiscussion, online showcase ( to highlight initiatives acrossgovernment and initiated a official Government 2.0 community using their existing Govdex wikiand forum platform ( used this opportunity to build Govspace ( as a platform forgovernment blogs employing a custom installation of the open source Wordpress blog platform. Theservice now hosts over 25 government blogs from an assortment of agencies18.As a key action from “Recommendation 2: Coordinate with leadership, guidance and support”,AGIMO was assigned as lead agency and formed a Government 2.0 Steering Group19 in July 2010involving senior representatives of nine agencies with the mandate to take “overall responsibilityfor developing and implementing the Government 2.0 work program, reporting to Government onits progress, and for providing advice, guidance and support to agencies on Government 2.0issues.” The Steering Group is reporting on its activities publicly via AGIMOs blog.AGIMO has also taken carriage of “Recommendation 9: Accessibility”, which was already part ofits mandate, and released guidance and a Transition Roadmap20 towards government compliancewith the W3Cs Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.0 Double A level (WCAG 2.0 AA).Other recommendations have been delegated to other agencies within the Australian Government.For example “Recommendation 6: Make public sector information open, accessible andreusable” and “Recommendation 8: Information publication scheme” form part of the mandate ofthe Office of the Information Commissioner, created as part of the Freedom of Information reforms.“Recommendation 11: Privacy and confidentiality” has become part of the work of both theInformation Commissioner and the Privacy Commissioner.Impact on Public AdministrationThere has been a measurable shift in the approach towards public administration. Besides thelegislatively mandated changes in Freedom of Information, which it has been a requirement for allgovernment agencies to meet, many government agencies have begun considering online media as acentral medium for their engagement and communications activities rather than as an adjunct.The number of Australian Government agencies utilising services such as Twitter has grownrapidly, from less than ten two years ago to more than 50 accounts today. Equally there have beenseveral notable mobile applications created, such as the iPhone app and theNational Toilet Map, Swap It and National Drugs Campaign iPhone apps, all from the Department18 Directory of Govspace blogs – GovSpace – Australian Government Information Management Office – Government 2.0 Steering Group – AGIMO blog – steering-group/20 Accessibility – Australian Government Web Guide – AGIMO – usability/accessibility/
  7. 7. of Health and Ageing.Online engagement is increasingly playing a part in public consultations, with blogs beingemployed to support engagement in consultations ranging from procurement guidelines and ITservice panels to customer charters for service delivery agencies.The number of blogs used in Australian government has continued to grow at a regular pace. Thereappears to only have been one public blog from an Australian government agency in 2007. Todaythere are at least 40, although there is evidence that the level of expertise across government ineffectively writing and managing blogs remains low.Communications campaigns across government are also employing social media channels in a morecentral manner, with examples such as The Line from FaHCSIA ( and theDepartment of Health and Ageings Swap It Dont Stop It campaign ( represents a shift in communications thinking away from the predominant use of traditionalmedia to drive traffic to static websites, as has been the main government practice over the last fiveyears, towards an awareness that engaged online communities present significantly greater benefitsfor increasing message frequency and effectiveness in information campaigns and supportinglasting behaviour change throughout social marketing campaigns.Perhaps the biggest impact on public administration, however, has been in the adoption of socialmedia by public servants themselves. While significant concerns regarding ICT security,productivity loss and the risk of inappropriate behaviour during the use of internal or external socialmedia tools still remain in some corners of the Australian Public Service, a significant minority ofdepartments have now instituted effective staff social media guidance and are beginning to unlockaccess to social media channels.This change is being further driven by the increasing use of social media by government agencies tointeract with external audiences. As agencies such as the Australian Public Service Commissionexperiment with using blogs to engage public servants in consultations and with other Departmentssuch as Innovation, Industry, Science and Research and Finance already using blogs to interact withand inform public servants across government, the rationale behind blocking official staff use ofthese tools comes under significant pressure.The question of staff access to social media has also been challenged by the rising number ofagencies employing social media channels in external engagement, such as ImmiTV( from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.Refusing staff access to the same information made available to the public can result ininefficiencies in customer contact and communication services.There is also anecdotal evidence that Australian government agencies which provide greater accessto social media are more attractive as employers to younger staff.The increasing access to social media channels by Australian public servants has already seen anincrease in public service engagement and collaboration, both within and between agencies.On the less positive side, there are signs that the public service is still maturing in its capabilities toeffectively use social media and Government 2.0.Due to the relative speed of the introduction and mandate for the use of Government 2.0 approachesand technologies, a number of agencies lack experienced staff and established systems to effectively
  8. 8. design, develop and manage Government 2.0 initiatives. The signs of this are evident in the use ofGovspace. Firstly, many agencies have begun using the service due to challenges in introducingsimilar technologies into their own agency in a timely and cost-effective fashion. Often agency ICTteams are focused on managing legacy systems, or have to focus their attention on managing thecomplex technical solutions required for a large modern enterprise. They do not always haveinternal expertise in designing, developing or selecting social media tools and may be unfamiliarwith many of the opensource products on the market.Equally the use of Government 2.0 channels and social media requires different types of audienceengagement skills than some traditional communications or policy activities. The style ofcommunication in online forums, via Facebook, or when writing blog posts and even Tweets can bequite different, with the need to have escalation processes for managing borderline inappropriatebehaviour. Public servants may require significant technical skills to manage users who are familiarwith technical platforms.Different approval processes for content may also be required. Whereas often social media channelsmay be treated as written documents, for example, requiring a Minute to a senior executive in orderto approve a 140 character tweet, in some cases they may be more akin to phone calls, requiring thedevelopment of standardised scripts, tweetplates and allowing more scope for personalengagement.Impact on citizensThe impact of the Australian Governments Government 2.0 policy on citizens has been primarilypositive, however the awareness of more advanced Government 2.0 initiatives has remained lowdue to a lack of significant media interest or promotion.There has been significant public involvement in social media channels connected tocommunications campaigns, such as over 170,000 fans for the Department of Health and AgeingsBinge Drinking Facebook page ( and over60,000 fans for FaHCSIAs The Line Facebook page ( consultations held by government have, for the most part, still mirrored traditionalsubmission-based consultations, with limited opportunities for participants to respond to each otheror collaborate. On this basis the public has treated this channel in a similar manner to previousemail-based consultations, or more as newspaper letters to the editor.Where government agencies have deployed more active Government 2.0 consultation facilities,often the capability for a robust discussion has been restricted by agency moderation policies orlack of engagement by agency staff. When pre-moderation is applied and every comment must beapproved before publication the free-flow of discussion is halted. Where public servants are notwilling or have the authority to intercede quickly to correct factual errors or reduce tensions beforeinappropriate conduct becomes a concern, discussions often deviate off topic, losing significantengagement value.However where the preconditions for a constructive, engaged and free-flowing discussion havebeen met, such as during several AGIMO consultations, there has been high engagement fromparticipants, limited only by the reach of consultation promotion or the level of interest on specifictopics.While a number of agencies have reported significant increases in FOI requests since the legislativechanges, citizens have not as broadly embraced the release of public data. In many cases thedatasets released require some technical expertise to use in an effective manner, restricting the
  9. 9. audience to technically skilled citizens. However, reflecting this against the experience in the UKand US, it may be appropriate for data sites to be primarily of interest to people with the skills torepurpose data effectively.Attempts at crowd sourcing have generally been reasonably successful, with sufficient participationto ensure that this avenue continues to be explored by government agencies, however more often ina communications, than in a policy development, capacity.Crisis communications has potentially been the star performer in Government 2.0 terms, with theexample of the Queensland Police Media Twitter and Facebook pages, used as the officialQueensland Government social media channels during the Queensland floods in early 2011demonstrating that a well-managed government social media communications channel can addressinaccuracies in other media as well as ensure the community is well informed.There has not, however, been any illustrative examples at national level to demonstrate howeffectively Australian Government agencies may deploy social media in crises.Impact on businessThe impact on business of the Australian Governments Government 2.0 policy has been hard toquantify.While the Australian Tax Offices SME Forum demonstrates that there is ongoing value for bothbusiness and government in ongoing engagement, there have been few Government 2.0 initiativestargeting the commercial sector.The largest areas of potential benefit, and disbenefit are in the open data and Freedom ofInformation areas. While it could be claimed there is significant value in allowing commercialentities to freely access and use government data, as it reduces barriers related to data cost andawareness, there have been concerns raised by Australian journalists in regards the potential loss ofexclusivity in Freedom of Information requests.Several agencies, such as Treasury21, have begun releasing public FOI data to the requester and totheir website simultaneously. This reduces, or completely removes, the time-advantageorganisations requesting information under Freedom of Information laws have traditionally heldover their competitors.With the risk of losing these exclusives, several journalists have argued that media outlets mayreduce the number of FOI requests they make22, leading to information that otherwise would be inthe public interest not being publicly reported. On this basis, they have argued, exclusivityprovisions support government openness by providing finance incentive for media organisations toget there first.If this logic holds, there may also be the potential for incumbent large commercial interests to seethe free release of some government data to the public as a threat to their commercial advantage.Due to Australias position as a leading resource nation with limited water resources, geospatial data21 Treasury stymies Coalition’s FOI ruse – Crispin Hull – coalition%E2%80%99s-foi-ruse/22 Friday arvo document dumps subvert FOI reform: editors – Tom Cowrie – Crikey – The coming open data battle - government versus commercial interests – Craig Thomler – eGovAU –
  10. 10. might become a key source of tension, with the free release of some of this information tantamountto the reduction of barriers to entry into the industry.This might also be reflected in areas such as health and ageing. Data from population health studies(suitably anonymised) might provide advantage to pharmaceuticals companies, insurance agenciesor even medical and aged care facilities. Where the governments open data policy could enablenew competitors to enter and contest markets there may be incentives for commercial interests tolobby the government to broaden safeguards on privacy and security, reduce the quality or quantityof data released into the public domain or limiting certain datasets to release to trusted commercialentities through payment mechanisms that only incumbents can afford.Regulation of accountability issuesThe Australian Governments policy position regarding Government 2.0 includes significantaccountability measures and ties into existing regulatory frameworks for agencies and publicservants.The Terms of Reference23 for the Government 2.0 Steering Group enshrine it as a leadership andfacilitation vehicle, not a central control mechanism or approval point for all Government 2.0activity. The Terms outline the specific priorities of the Group as;“Issue and maintain guidance on using technology to agencies to assist making the governmentmore consultative, participatory and transparent.Advise and assist the Lead Agency in establishing the criteria and judging candidates for theGovernment 2.0 awards.Steering Group members will advocate the implementation of Government 2.0 in their ownagencies and set an example for other agencies and the APS leadership.Monitor and report to Government on the progress of the Government 2.0 work program.”By employing terminology such as “issue and maintain guidance”, “advocate” and “set anexample”, the implementation of Government 2.0 has remained at the discretion of each agency, butwith guidance, examples and encouragement available to mitigate risk and overcome barriers toonline engagement.The other recommendations in the Governments Response to the Final Report of the Government2.0 Taskforce provide for similar allocation of specific responsibilities to existing, or otherwiserecently created administrative bodies, but with the emphasis on defining specific agendas (such asin the areas of Security and Accessibility) and providing advice and support to individual agencies.Actual implementation of social media and Government 2.0 initiatives remains framed within thecomplex mesh of existing Australian Government guidelines. This includes existing procurementand financial requirements, the Australian Public Service Commissions Values and Code ofConduct for public servants (referenced in specific governance for online media participation),existing privacy law, accessibility guidelines, Guidelines on Information and AdvertisingCampaigns24 and other legislative and regulatory frameworks.This approach of enmeshing Government 2.0 accountability at the agency level with all of thebusiness as usual requirements of the Australian Government means that Government 2.0 can betreated as business as usual and a core component of governments interactions with citizens.This in term reduces the perceived risks of engaging through Government 2.0 means and helps23 Government 2.0 Steering Group Terms of Reference – AGIMO – Guidelines on Information and Advertising Campaigns by Australian Government Departments and Agencies – Department of Finance and Deregulation – advertising.html
  11. 11. normalise its use.Where existing guidance may struggle to extend to new channels and approaches to engagement,guidance and advice is available through the Steering Group. In this area work has been doneregarding the procurement of open source software25 by government agencies and changes made tothe Australian Governments default copyright position26 to align it with open licensing; “11.(b) Consistent with the need for free and open re-use and adaptation, public sector information should be licensed by agencies under the Creative Commons BY standard as the default.”Work has been underway by the Government to lighten several government regulatoryrequirements, where this does not reduce accountability, to streamline use of Government 2.0. Forexample in June 2010 Financial Regulation 10A27 came into effect. This regulation reduces the redtape burden on purchase of certain goods and services, particularly online services, by removingthe need for a Regulation 10 approval for contingent liabilities that are “remote or immaterial”.A Government 2.0 Primer28 was released by AGIMO in December 2010, as was their staff “SocialMedia 101”29 in July 2010. Both were released under open licenses, permitting reuse and extensionby other agencies. These guidance documents support agencies who wish to build their own internalpolicies and guidance on staff and official use of online channels. Over time they may also assistnormalising guidance across agencies.Lessons learntAustralias experience demonstrates that when a solid and well-considered platform, balancinglegislative and regulatory management with guidance and support, is devised for Government 2.0 itbecomes measurably easier to implement and normalise its adoption and manage the necessarycultural and administrative changes.The Government 2.0 Taskforce was successfully able to engage and activate public servants througha proactive walk the talk engagement methodology, which provided a broad base of input to informtheir recommendations.This was further assisted by the make-up of the Taskforce membership, more than 50 per cent ofmembers were not from the public sector. The recognition that Government 2.0 was not solely amatter for public servants reflected the community engagement requirements of a successful policyplatform in this area.The process has also illustrated that Government 2.0 leadership must be undertaken at all levels ingovernment, not simply by politicians or senior public servants. By supporting a diverse set ofleaders in different aspects of Government 2.0, the Australian Government has fostered the policyas being inclusive and accelerated the capability for culture change.25 Consultation: Guide to Open Source Software – AGIMO blog – Statement of IP Principles for Australian Government Agencies (PDF 135KB) – Attorney-Generals Department – (9A5D88DBA63D32A661E6369859739356)~Statement+of+IP+Principles+for+Australian+Government+Agencies 2.pdf/$file/Statement+of+IP+Principles+for+Australian+Government+Agencies2.pdf27 Financial Management and Accountability Regulations 1997 – Comlaw – The AGIMO Government 2.0 Primer – AGIMO blog – government-2-0-primer/29 Social Media 101: A beginner’s guide for Finance employees – AGIMO blog –
  12. 12. At most levels within the Australian Public Service it is possible to find Government 2.0 leaders,meaning that senior executives, middle-managers and staff are all able to identify and interact withleadership at the appropriate level for their activities.The personal leadership of key individuals across government has helped address engagement fears.Where senior leaders have actively and successfully engaged via services such as Twitter, Facebookand blogs, it has assisted in mitigating perceived risks for peers and subordinates.Potentially the largest gap in Government 2.0 policy implementation in Australia has been thelimited access to specific training and sandboxes where staff can gain exposure to the principles ofonline engagement and build an active understanding of the tools available and how they may beeffectively used within government.In Victoria the Department of Justice has introduced an internal program of training staff on socialmedia engagement through Yammer, an internal Twitter-like messaging service. This ensures thatstaff learn the ropes before encountering the public, providing an additional safety net underdepartmental guidance and policy.At this time there remains limited opportunities for Australian Government public servants to gaindomain-specific experience in Government 2.0 without stepping directly to experimentation. Thiscould make it more difficult to identify and implement successful engagement strategies, or forsenior managers to identify the risks most likely to be actualised when considering alternativebusiness cases.The education gap is being met to some degree through external training and seminar providers,however this remains a less targeted approach to Government 2.0 and may not always becontextually sensitive.Success measuresThe direct success criteria for Australias Government 2.0 policy have been articulated through therecommendations of the Government 2.0 Taskforce Final Report, as accepted by the government.However these relate to actions, not outcomes and it is unclear whether the Australian Governmentor others would consider completion of all approved actions as defining the overall success ofGovernment 2.0 in Australia.The only ongoing performance measure agreed to in the Final Report is for agencies to report theirongoing progress in implementing Government 2.0 as below; “3.2.1 identify barriers within their organisation which inhibit online engagement and document what they will do to reduce these barriers 3.2.2 identify and document specific projects to make use of social networking and ‘crowdsourcing’ tools and techniques to enhance agency policymaking, implementation and continuous improvement 3.2.3 identify and document specific projects to increase the use of online tools and platforms for internal collaboration within their agency and between agencies that they work with across the public sector. 3.3 The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) will include in the annual State of the Service Report30 details of agencies’ progress in implementing the above recommendations, covering successes, disappointments and lessons learned.”30 State of the Service reports – Australian Public Service Commission –
  13. 13. The first reporting year is 2010-2011 and, as such, this reporting has not yet begun.The metric of agency activity may prove to be insufficient to fully measure the effectiveness of theGovernment 2.0 policy. While it will measure specific steps and actions by agencies, it does notnecessarily provide measures for audience engagement, efficiency or effectiveness.It may be more pertinent to consider the Final Report section “The promise of Government 2.0” asdefining the aspirational success measures for the policy. These are outlined as follows;“By embracing Government 2.0 we can:make our democracy more participatory and informedimprove the quality and responsiveness of services in areas like education, health andenvironmental management, and at the same time deliver these services with greater agility andefficiencycultivate and harness the enthusiasm of citizens, letting them more fully contribute to theirwellbeing and that of their communityunlock the immense economic and social value of information and other content held bygovernments to serve as a precompetitive platform for innovationrevitalise our public sector and make government policies and services more responsive topeople’s needs and concerns by: providing government with the tools for a much greater level of community engagement allowing the users of government services much greater participation in their design and continual improvement involving communities of interest and practice outside the public sector — which offer unique access to expertise, local knowledge and perspectives — in policy making and delivery more successfully attracting and retaining bright, enthusiastic citizens to the public service by making their work less hierarchical, more collaborative and more intrinsically rewarding.While several of these measures are stated in a qualitative fashion, most provide tangible benefitsand are readily measurable for example:make our democracy more participatory and informedPotential measures: Quantitatively measure public participation by citizens at an agency level by number and frequency of engagement/activity and track over time. Qualitatively evaluate the level of informed citizenry through statistically significant periodic surveys.improve the quality and responsiveness of services in areas like education, health andenvironmental management, and at the same time deliver these services with greater agility andefficiencyPotential measures: Qualitative evaluate citizen views by service area through statistically significant ongoing and periodic surveys. Construct agency metrics based on response times and cost to measure agility and efficiency.