Oct 072008

Last week I took part in a fascinating discussion around Government 2.0, i.e. the use of Web 2.0 tools by government agencies. I connected my client Scott Burns of GovDelivery with Mark Drapeau, who has made a name for himself locally by blogging on Government 2.0 on Mashable. Mark is an Associate Research Fellow at the National Defense University’s Center for Technology and National Security Policy, and here’s a link if you haven’t read any of his stuff: http://mashable.com/author/mark-drapeau/.

GovDelivery had just released some new 2.0 functionality (http://tinyurl.com/3oyavw) for government clients and that was the original purpose for the call. But the conversation went far beyond that announcement, starting with Mark’s frustration with the status of 2.0 in government and even the term itself. He feels there is a lot more talk than action in DC around Government 2.0, and that many have learned the buzzwords but few are implementing. In his view government is very detached from a lot of the exciting things happening in places like Silicon Valley, Boston and New York.

So what does the term mean exactly? Mark and Scott distilled it down to “using new technologies for better communication between people,” which is pretty easy to understand. Unfortunately Mark feels government is NOT really taking advantage of social software for better communication internally or externally.

He mentioned some exceptions, and highlighted NASA’s CoLab project, which he later posted on. Scott pointed out that there are a lot of government success stories out there, but GovDelivery began with a focus on helping government agencies improve “the basics” of communication with the public first, and is now working in more 2.0 features. Here’s how he laid out the process the company has followed:

  • Establish a secure, multi-tenant Software as a Service (SaaS) platform that automates, personalizes and ensures the delivery of government emails
  • Offer RSS feeds and APIs so additional channels can be pulled into government web sites
  • Beta launch the 2.0 Collaboration Network (earlier this year), which allows agencies to cross-promote topics of interest during the subscription process, a kind of Amazon “others liked this” feature that results in big increases in subscriber numbers
  • Add the ability to easily implement blog management and tag clouds, and start to bring the citizen into the conversation

Scott and Mark tossed around some really interesting ideas. Possible projects included a wiki that contains best practices for start ups, a series of posts around how to gradually implement 2.0 functions into an agency’s communication strategy, and pulling together recommendations on how government decision-makers can get in better touch with early stage technology companies.

Whether you call it Government 2.0 or not, there is a lot of innovation going on around better communication with citizens. And these two guys will continue to be leaders around the issue.

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  One Response to “Talking Government 2.0”

  1. What seems to be a challenge right now is that there are several people and groups researching and exploring “Government 2.0,” but few have joined efforts.

    This has resulted in a large amount of effort floating about the Internet, but not connected in any way. The main efforts I see to actually try to collect this disjointed information and publish it in a format that is easily accessible by other government employees are listed below:

    The Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds group
    The GovLoop Network set up at http://www.govloop.com
    The MuniGov 2.0 local government group set up by myself and Bill Greeves.

    The focus of each seems to be to provide space to allow government employees the opportunity to network and share knowledge and resources about this emerging technology.

    I agree all this begs for a wiki and both the Federal Consortium and our MuniGov 2.0 group have started building knowledge centers with a wiki-like tool. There are also great discussions about all of this going on in the GovLoop Network.

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