Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"Just How Realistic is 'Government 2.0'?" - not

Having been inside many governmental organizations, I can tell you that it will take a LOT more effort to get people to change. One of oft misunderstood positives of a government organization is that they aren't driven by profit or the bottom line. Sometimes lethargy can actually be good in a giant and vast bureaucracy.

One of the main inhibitors to governmental adoption of "web 2.0" technology is the power curve and adoption models. Government tends to not invest in technology until the private sector has done so and figured it out some (though that doesn't help the government much in integrating it well). So until companies can figure out how to profit from wikis and other tools, don't look for it too much in the government. The more important factor is the government workers themselves, who skew old. Many government workers are actually technically savvie. However, getting the majority of workers to use a new set of tools is very challenging.


via HarvardBusiness.org on 5/20/08
I don't doubt that these tools will have some impact on how governmental information and services are delivered. I also don't have any doubt that they will not drive as much change as Don (and his co-author Anthony Williamson as quoted in a CIO Insight article ) apparently believe they will. Don said that "government 2.0" was the most important change for government in more than a century. Williamson (and Tapscott, to a slightly lesser degree) "foresees Web 2.0 technologies being employed to transform service delivery, make smarter policies, flatten silos and, most importantly, reinvigorate democracy."

Of course, there may be a few hitches in this miraculous transformation. One caller who works in the U.S. federal government called in to Don today, saying something like, "I can't even get a replacement for my six year old computer—how will the federal government be able to transform itself with wikis?" Don basically replied, "Sure, there will be some cultural obstacles, but this sort of change is inevitable."

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