The government 2.0 movement is about change, real change, and how to use
the power of tech to empower the public. Here's how it will work, and who's
already behind it.
There is a movement underway, called Government 2.0, a movement is crucial to
our future as a society and one that's I'm a part of -- an inside man, if you
will. Let me tell you about it.
Government 2.0 is a citizen-centric philosophy and strategy that believes the
best results are usually driven by partnerships between citizens and government,
at all levels. It is focused entirely on achieving goals through increased
efficiency, better management, information transparency, and citizen engagement
and most often leverages newer technologies to achieve the desired outcomes.
Government 2.0 is bringing business approaches, business technologies, to
This movement has great leaders like software pioneer Tim O'Reilly,
Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek
Kundra, and a long list of others. However, this movement is still far from
main-stream. Success mostly occurs organically, the result of the work of
passionate individuals rather than top-down strategic change. That's because
policies, processes, and people are not yet fully prepared to handle this
change. In speaking with people around the country at all levels I see the
following problems far too often:
- Individuals having to take risks with their careers to experiment with
social media, open government data, and other technologies despite the lack of
support from peers and supervisors.
- Individuals investing their own money to buy products, services, and
training to drive innovation.
The change created by these passionate individuals is great but, their
efforts are not sustainable. The change will be undone when these passionate
individuals move to their next position. Sounds bleak, doesn't it?
Quite the opposite.
In reality we are nearing a fork in the road. In one direction lay true,
sustainable, change where government operates more transparently, more
efficiently, and in deeper cooperation with citizens. In the other direction we
have business as usual with great promises and poor results.
How do we continue this change in a manner that ensures real value,
demonstrable cost savings and increased citizen engagement, is achieved?
Here's the one sentence answer:
Create a management framework that accepts and rewards internal
Government employees are traditionally risk-averse, a good thing when the
pace of change is relatively slow. However, in today's fast-paced world the
pace of government change, the pace of government execution is often too slow.
We see this every day as regulators struggle to adapt laws passed for
yesterday's problems to today's challenges. Change management practices that
were once sufficient are no longer keeping up.
To change we must overhaul how goals are set, how employees are trained, and
how employees are measured against their goals. Results delivered, not
seniority, must become the yardstick against which employees are measured. Here
are four things that are crucial:
1) Focus on success at the local level.
There are more than 80,000 local governments in the United States. Very few
of these cities, probably less than 0.1% of them, are yet able to point to any
positive change as a result of government 2.0 initiatives. In the majority of
cases the changes are occurring in large cities like Boston, San Francisco, and
Washington, DC, not in the small and mid-sized towns/cities where the majority
of our citizens live. In many cases education, the cost of technology and the
lack of awareness are the problems holding back change.
2) Force competitive solutions for non-core services.
Clearly our military, our diplomats, and other core services are all
sacrosanct. However, non-core services like communications (PR/Marketing), IT,
and training services (as a few examples) should be considered as possibly best
delivered by the private sector. The key word, of course, is "might". When
results are not being delivered by contractors, government needs to retain the
flexibility to look for alternative solutions, something missing in today's
3) Engage citizens in creating value and saving money.
True results are being delivered in the private and public sector when
customers/citizens are engaged in the process. Platforms like BubbleIdeas,
UserVoice, IdeaScale, and others, are being used to give citizens a voice in the
daily execution of government. Ideation platforms need to be more broadly
explored and deployed to work with citizens.
4) Become agile, delivering on 100 day plans.
While politicians often make promises for their first 100 days in office we
rarely see clearly defined goals combined with execution plans and measurable
outcomes publicly displayed. Rhetoric, not results, is often the only
Government entities should select an easy to define project to complete every
100 days. The projects goals, plans, and metrics for success should be
published and updated weekly. The ability to achieve results should then be
rewarded. Failures should be accepted and used as opportunities to learn and
improve. Teams and individuals that consistently succeed should be rewarded.
Those that consistently fail should be replaced.
In future articles I will explore these potential solutions in far more
detail. For now I will leave you with this one question: Can sustainable change
in government be achieved from a mostly self-funded volunteer workforce? Let me know what you think.
--John Moore is the Founder and CEO of The
Lab, a consultancy and analyst firm focused on local government as well as
small and medium business.