What’s the Status of Gov 2.0? DorobekINSIDER’s Expert Panel Weighs In

A special edition of GovLoop’s DorobekINSIDER today. The Status of Gov 2.0

We are going to check in on the evolution -- or revolution -- that is government 2.0. What does gov 2.0 mean these days?

It is interesting because as we were pulling this together, people would ask me -- and this is my paraphrase -- ‘are we JUST talking about gov 2.0?’ And in some ways, I think they were thinking -- and asking -- what does government 2.0 mean in 2013.

The short answer is NO, we are not going to just talk about gov 2.0, and that is because gov 2.0 in and of itself doesn’t mean that much. We’ll try to flesh out a definition about what it is today, but when it started, it was really about using Web 2.0 tools in the government. But as we’ve learned, it is so much more than just using Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

To me, gov 2.0 was -- and is -- really about transformation. It is about moving beyond ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results’ and it is about finding NEW ways for government to accomplish it’s mission. It is about a mind-set where information is power, but it is powerful when it is shared.

The DorobekINSIDER Guests List:

  • Lena Trudeau is the Associate Commissioner for the Office of Strategic Innovation at GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service.
  • Alex Howard is the Washington Correspondent for O'Reilly Media.
  • Kevin Curry is a civic hacker and the director of the CfA Brigade, Code for America's community engagement program.
  • Dan Mintz, the former CIO at the Transportation Department
  • Patrick Fiorenza is GovLoop's Senior Research Analyst.

Definition of Gov 2.0. What are we talking about here? Has that definition changed?

Howard: "Gov 2.0 is a buzzword, there are no ifs, ands or buts about it. It often means what people want it to mean. Buzzwords like "big data" get adopted by people selling something. So a vendor, who is selling some kind of technology to government will say, 'this is government 2.0, it can be an app or a cellphone, moving to the cloud, it can be how to use social media. I've thought about it in a broader way for sometime and I think it is in the eye of the beholder. My publisher Tim O'Reilly adopted the idea of government 2.0 or government acting as a platform, where government facilitates other organizations, individuals, developers to build on top of government. Government provides better interfaces, provides open data, API's, provides the means for certain parties to innovate. And I think despite the decrease in search volume for the term, it is something that is spreading around the world. People are just calling it different things like, innovation, digital government or e-government. In general, when I think about it and when I write about it, it is a framing device to talk about the next way of government working better. It is a useful frame. It will cause some dismay because it is a versioning metaphor, so people will say 'what is gov 3.0,' so we may lose some listeners because it may be called buzzy."

Mintz: "Seems to me that Gov 2.0, which in effect represents one aspect of the impact of the internet, does in a general sense reduce the transactional costs for any activity. For example the in the field of publishing industry has been turned upside down and rearranged because the classic providers of information have become much less authoritative. You have bloggers. So in the government the original thought was to focus on process improvement. Provide information flow to people so they can work better in-between the government and its stakeholders. DOT was one of the first departments to have a Secretary of Blog. One of the things that has happened in the past few years is the Digital Government Strategy. It represents a change in strategy to work on the results. Not just improving the process. It changes the way government provides services.

  • How do you provide information to people better?
  • How do you improve the backend. Stovepipe systems with stovepipe data. How do you design systems that cross those boundaries in a way that people want that information.

Trudeau: I too think of Gov 2.0 in very broad terms. We called it the Collaboration Project because we didn't want it to sound like it was a technology issue we were solving at its heart. Technology is an enabler. And we need a new set of tools to deal with the challenges and demands of the environment we find ourselves in, but it is more than the technology tool set. It's more about changes to processes systems, structures, policies and upgrade our skills set. It's a very broad challenge and if we focus solely on the tools themselves, we miss what motivates people in this space to do very challenging things. We see a set of businesses processes and models that we have that are in need of transformation. The organization as a whole is committed to that change. But the way government is built we are really geared towards incremental change, because it is safe. The shift right now for government from being bureaucratic and authoritative to being open and sharing and collaborative. We have to leverage a much broader community. That notion of government as a platform is critical. Sharing information across silos.

Curry: I tend to be a traditionalist. For me it literally started with the "What is Web 2.0 Paper" that Tim O'Reilly wrote and applying those principles to government. I tend to think that web as a platform, those are all principles that we all associate with Gov 2.0. Now we are moving past the jargon and establishing a common language. People are asking less about what is government 2.0 and now more conversing around it. The participatory part of Gov 2.0 is important to me.

Why Do We Need Gov 2.0?

Trudeau: The why is critical. You can't just pile more money onto a problem in hopes of finding a solution. People really do want to be engaged. Valerie Lemming said, "it's a shift of government solving problems for citizens to a more adult to adult relationship."

Mintz: The age of austerity is not the fundamental problem. It is an allocation problem. Government needs to change the way it relates because people have changed the way they relate to systems.

What's the Link Between Open Government Transparency and Gov 2.0?

Howard: Anytime there is a community defined term like this, there are a lot of different people who get to have a say. That's very emblematic of the time we are in. The reality is people do want services, they've grown accustomed to being able to do things with increasingly powerful phones that are connected to the internet wherever they are. That in turn is putting a lot of pressure upon governments that are quiet strapped for funds to improve. At the same time we know there is an $80 billion IT budget and $140 billon overall government budget going to IT around that country, that is often not delivering the services that people want effectively. The reasons for that usually aren't related to technology. They are related to regulations, culture, procurement and human resources.

Procurement's Role?

Trudeau: We need to level transactions on behalf of government data. All to often the way we procure isn't up to date. When we talk about procurement we should be able to provide value beyond the sourcing. We created at GSA an online platform called GSA Advantage. It creates open and transparent automatic payments. Last year $703 million was transacted through GSA Advantage. That's basically 1% of total government procurements. It should be much, much higher. That way we can drive down the costs.

Tomorrow we will highlight the biggest challenges in Gov 2.0.

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