Back in March, Mark Drapeau from National Defense University wrote about the mid-life crisis of gov 2.0.
Government 2.0 has reached its midlife crisis. Despite some leadership from influential individuals on using social software in government, there is still in many cases a disconnect between authorities issuing directives and ground troops carrying them out...Resistant to change and adhering strictly to doctrine even when nonsensical, people in the clay layer can halt progress. Despite their intentions and being in a strategic position, they often stop the progress being called for.-- Read more on ReadWriteWebThe solution? A conference. The wonderful Government 2.0 Camp in March attracted a huge number of government (federal, state and local as well as some international) and private sector attendees to talk about government 2.0 and learn from each other.
In July, Jaimie Maynard, a federal staffer, blogged about her post-conference low after the Open Government and Innovations Conference.
All web 2.0 conferences are all starting to look exactly the same. Many speakers come from agencies that are boldly using social media in a new and exciting ways, and many more "believers," who are not allowed to use those same technologies, come to hear about it. But the status quo remains the same...DoD, NASA, The White House are getting things done, but as a method to further collaboration and expand the use of social media, [the conference] failed. We need specifics: case studies, business case strategies that succeeded to support any/all of these tools, etc.So, now it's October and there is another lament that Government 2.0 is failing or flailing. The Gov 2.0 conferences of the fall--O'Reilly's Expo and Summit--felt like just alot of talk by the same people about the same things.
Brian Drake from Deloitte blogs,
How we can get more people, enthusiasm, and get some tough issues on the table. The one group we continue to not hear from are the detractors or skeptics of social software...In addition to the slim number of public, cogent arguments against Government 2.0, our own discussions about failures are truncated. I’m noticing our Government 2.0 conferences either trumpet the achievements of the few or recast a failure as a success.--Read more on Brian's blog.So the wrong people are coming to the conference. The solution? Another conference. This one to focus on the "Shortfalls of Gov 2.0" and attract people who aren't coming.
Steve Radick, from Booz Allen and a member of the "Goverati," offers a three part solution.
And, a conference about Government 2.0 Shortfalls.
- Realize that not all is perfect in the land of Gov 2.0
- Identify the skeptics and open up a dialogue with them
- Hear the war stories of the people who have gone before us --Read more from Steve's blog.
Underlying this most recent discussion is the idea that people are unaware of the barriers, arguments against, downsides to Government 2.0. I want to clarify that assumption.
People who actually work in government are well aware of the barriers and arguments against Government 2.0.
Yes, we already know. We don't need to talk about it at another conference. We need to fix it. The problems and issues have been defined and discussed since last year. A few quick examples,
- In December 2008, the Federal Web Managers' Council published, "Social Media and the Federal Government: Perceived and Real Barriers and Potential Solutions" (pdf) This paper identified challenges with strategy, access, legal, privacy, advertising, ethics, accessibility, and the Paperwork Reduction Act. The paper also offered concrete recommendations to overcome these barriers.
- In June, the Office of the Chief Privacy Officer at the Department of Homeland Security held a two-day workshop to explore best practices to implement the President’s January 2009, Transparency and Open Government Memorandum. In addition to Gov 2.0 advocates, panelists included a variety of viewpoints including privacy advocates, civil liberties organizations, security professionals, and differing legal opinions.
- Last month, the Federal CIO Council security workgroup published Guidelines for Secure Use of Social Media by Federal Departments and Agencies identifying issues and recommendations to address security issues in social media.
AND, many of us in government also know that there are some "successes" that have leap-frogged some hurdles and were implemented because leadership demanded that something be stood up. Agencies are playing catch up.
Gartner's Andrea DeMaio blogs very thoughtfully on government and technology changes. He recently said,
I am still amazed to see how little employee-centricity there is in today’s government 2.0 conferences, debates, positions and articles. It is as if employees were considered legacy, just part of an organization that will be transformed, and not the real fuel and soul of those organizations.I think that Brian and Steve make excellent points in their posts. I am not opposed to a conference to discuss the shortfalls of Government 2.0, but I am unsure about the payoff. What do we gain? How does it affect the policy? That's where the rubber meets the road. When will we have guidance on records? Can we make better sense out of the limits on advertising? Why does each agency need to do a privacy impact assessment on YouTube or FaceBook? Are the issues the same across government? How can we move the incentives (i.e. money) to reward cross-agency efforts? To gain efficiencies and reduce redundancies? To break down silos? To improve innovation?
Until when their role will be given equal dignity as “citizens”, government 2.0 will remain an interesting subject for discussion, will marginally contribute to service improvement, but won’t realize a fraction of its potential.--More on Andrea's blog
Here's the challenge, because if we aren't getting to these solutions, it's just more hot air.