Let the transformation of public services begin

Yesterday, Senator Tanner and Ludwig published the Australian federal government’s official response to the Gov 2.0 Taskforce report.

The government agreed with the vast majority of recommendations, so I won’t provide a point-by-point critique of their responses. The broad implication is that this provides a mandate at the federal level (and hopefully cascading down to state and local levels) for ‘Open Government’ and Government 2.0. The Department of Finance and Deregulation has been appointed the lead agency, working along side the future Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) and the Attorney Generals Department (AGD), and a multi-agency steering group, to help guide and support the implementation of Government 2.0.

One immediate implication for agencies is that the government also supported the Taskforce’s call for an initial 12 month period (on top of the last 10 months of advance warning) where agencies need put together what is effectively their own Government 2.0 review and action plan. I did note that this includes not just external engagement, but “internal collaboration within their agency and between agencies“.

However, with hindsight there are probably few surprises in the areas where the government didn’t endorse the Taskforce’s recommendations entirely or immediately:

  • The role of the OIC versus the AGD in relation to public sector information and copyright;
  • The didn’t support the position that all consultations to be conducted in public (I actually agree with them on this point); and
  • Deferment of the info-philanthropy recommendation.

The government also clearly stated that there will be no extra money for agencies to implement Government 2.0 – this is to be treated as business as usual:

The cost of agency change required to address internal technical and policy barriers will be the responsibility of agencies to absorb as part of their business-as-usual activities.

Personally, I think there are some critical steps that need to happen next:

  1. The lead agency – Finance (I assume, in practice AGIMO) – needs to focus on actively facilitating the adoption of Government 2.0 through knowledge sharing and networking between people inside and outside government, not just issuing improved guidelines. In fact, the ongoing development of practices and guidelines needs to be a participatory approach by the agencies using them.
  2. If individual agencies are going to address Government 2.0 as they have been mandated but also as part of business of usual, I think it will require swapping some existing ways of operating for new, innovative approaches.
If your agency or non-government organisation – either at a federal, state or local level – needs help transforming how you deliver public services then please let us know. You can read about some of our projects for the public and third sector in our project files.