Government response to the report of the Government 2.0 taskforce

Photo by Limbic used under Creative Commons

The Government response to the report of the Government 2.0 taskforce was released on 10 May. It is for the purposes of those employed by the federal government almost revolutionary.
It is a clear statement by government that public servants are to be able to move away from enforced public anonymity and take an active part in the online community.

online engagement by public servants, involving robust professional discussion as part of their duties or as private citizens, benefits their agencies, their professional development, those with whom they are engaged and the Australian public. This engagement should be enabled and encouraged.

It is incumbent on the senior APS leadership to ensure that top-down change is enabled in agencies, and that APS employees are genuinely encouraged and empowered to engage online within their agency-specific context.

The default position in agencies should be that employees are encouraged and enabled to engage online. Agencies should support employee enablement by providing access to tools and addressing internal technical and policy barriers.

When using social media in the workplace and if engaging online as a public servant, staff should of course always be aware of the APS Values and Code of Conduct. In particular there is a new section (in Chapter 3) added late last year, which is worth noting.

Participating online

Web 2.0 provides public servants with unprecedented opportunities to open up government decision making and implementation to contributions from the community. In a professional and respectful manner, APS employees should engage in robust policy conversations.

Equally, as citizens, APS employees should also embrace the opportunity to add to the mix of opinions contributing to sound, sustainable policies and service delivery approaches. Employees should also consider carefully whether they should identify themselves as either an APS employee or an employee of their agency.

There are some ground rules. The APS Values and Code of Conduct, including Public Service Regulation 2.1, apply to working with online media in the same way as when participating in any other public forum. The requirements include:

•being apolitical, impartial and professional
•behaving with respect and courtesy, and without harassment
•dealing appropriately with information, recognising that some information needs to remain confidential
•delivering services fairly, effectively, impartially and courteously to the Australian public
•being sensitive to the diversity of the Australian public
•taking reasonable steps to avoid conflicts of interest
•making proper use of Commonwealth resources
•upholding the APS Values and the integrity and good reputation of the APS.
APS employees need to ensure that they fully understand the APS Values and Code of Conduct and how they apply to official or personal communications. If in doubt, they should stop and think about whether to comment and what to say, consult their agency’s policies, seek advice from someone in authority in their agency, or consult the Ethics Advisory Service in the Australian Public Service Commission.

The UK guidelines for online engagement, although they are of course not applicable, are worth noting and give clearer advice.

1.Be credible
◦Be accurate, fair, thorough and transparent.
2.Be consistent
◦Encourage constructive criticism and deliberation. Be cordial, honest and professional at all times.
3.Be responsive
◦When you gain insight, share it where appropriate.
4.Be integrated
◦Wherever possible, align online participation with other offline communications.
5.Be a civil servant
◦Remember that you are an ambassador for your organisation. Wherever possible, disclose your position as a representative of your department or agency.

Oh, and check out the original Government Web 2.0 taskforce website (where I got the photo from). There you can read the parting statement from Dr Nicholas Gruen who led the taskforce:

Government 2.0 is ultimately about what individual agencies, and yes, individual public servants do to make it happen. Before them lies a vast field of promise, but one that is still new. It won’t always be easy to work out ways of being more open, more candid, more participatory at the same time as being just as professional and apolitical as public servants have always been expected to be.

You may also want to see Senator Kate Lundy’s comments.

Draft Report of the Government 2.0 Taskforce

While we are on the subject of comment on drafts (see previous post) the draft Government 2.0 Taskforce report Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0.  released today (7 Dec. 2009) is seeking your comments.  See http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/07/draftreport/

There is very much to applaud in the report, most librarians are public servants, and so serious consideration should be given to reports and projects such as this, how we use technology to work better, for us and our users is important. Let’s hope the report gains acceptance. Some of the recommendations if implemented would be very useful, not least the copyright aspects.

Some bits of interest.

4.2

Given that government should be inherently collective and collaborative, the potential of a Web 2.0 enabled approach to government – what we call Government 2.0 – is potentially transformative. It offers the opportunity to make representative democracy more responsive, and more participatory. The incorporation of Web 2.0 technology into government engagement offers a unique opportunity to achieve more open, transparent, accountable and responsive government.

and,

9.3.1

To achieve Government 2.0 agencies need to:

Take much greater advantage of tools and practices to capture the expertise and experience of citizens, service users and front-line public service workers to enrich the knowledge from which public policy and service delivery decisions are made

and,

9.4

The Taskforce believes that the existing culture of the APS focuses too strongly on online engagement as a risk, and quite inadequately on the huge opportunity it offers to provide greater access to the professional capability of public servants and to advance the mission of public agencies. The recent revision of the online engagement guidelines from the APSC represents an important step towards a culture that focuses on reward and not just risk.

and,

10.4.1

Copyright law can be a major hindrance for archival institutions wishing to make their collections more accessible and useable.

What’s to disagree with

What is Web 2.0?

This video has been around for a while but it nicely sums up some of the underlying ideas of Web 2.0, as well as hinting at the kinds of issues that new developments in technology will bring. I particularly like the video’s distinction between form and content – RDA eat your heart out!

Presentation developed by Dr. Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology and Digital Ethnography, Kansas State University

2 sites worth watching

Two websites worth looking at.

1.  Government 2.0 Taskforce http://gov2.net.au/ -

“In particular the Taskforce will also identify policies and frameworks to assist the Information Commissioner and other agencies in:

  • developing and managing a whole of government information publication scheme to encourage greater disclosure of public sector information;
  • extending opportunities for the reuse of government information, and considering the terms of that use, to maximise the beneficial flow of that information and facilitate productive applications of government information to the greatest possible extent;
  • encouraging effective online innovation, consultation and engagement by government, including by drawing on the lessons of the Government’s online consultation trials and any initiatives undertaken by the Taskforce.”

2.  UK Web Archive Technology Watch http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/ukwebarchive_techwatch/

“This blog is the first stage in providing a monitoring function – otherwise known in digital preservation circles as a ‘technology watch’ – to keep track of changes to technology that supports use of material in the web archive. It is maintained by British Library staff in the Digital Preservation Team and Web Archiving Programme, and is made public so that others with an interest in tracking changes to technology for preservation purposes may benefit from the information recorded here.”

Swine flu

Pigs protect themselves in Adelaide's Rundle Mall (va email)

Pigs protect themselves in Adelaide's Rundle Mall (via email)

With the recent outbreak of swine flu and the overload of information available from so many information channels, including over 10,000 tweets on Twitter per hour, what is the best way to keep track of what’s happening? Over at Mashable, there’s an interesting article suggesting a few ways to manage the information as it comes to hand.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US is embracing Web 2.0 technologies to spread the word and has a full run down of the 101 ways in which you can get information about the swine flu outbreak from them (including widgets, e-cards, podcasts and video feeds, RSS and mobile updates to name just a few).

You can also find the latest official Australian government responses to the outbreak on the Department of Health and Ageing’s website, as well as the latest updates.

The World Health Organization is also updating information daily on its website, and mapping the spread of the disease (example of the spread from the WHO, 5 April 2009) .

More on Twitter

As we’ve previously mentioned on this blog, the use of Twitter and other social networking tools to spread news, and not just personal status updates, is growing rapidly. The latest PEW report supports these findings, stating:

“As with many technologies, enthusiastic users have used Twitter for more than just answering the question, “What are you doing?” Twitter has been used to help organize and disseminate information during major events like the 2008 California wildfires, the recent American elections, the Mumbai massacre and even the January 2009 crash of US Airways flight 1549 into the Hudson River. Janis Krum, a passenger on a ferry that rushed to the scene, took a photo of the plane with a cell phone and sent it out via his Twitter feed.4 Twitter and other status updates have also been used for many other purposes including the airing of complaints against companies, sharing ideas, forwarding interesting material, documenting events, conversing and flirting.”

The full text of the report can be downloaded from PEW Internet & American Life Project here.

Web 2.0 communication tools come through in a crisis

As most of you will be aware, there is a lot happening in Victoria, and in other parts of Australia, with wild bushfires burning. Staying up to date with all of the details as they happen can be hard but Web 2.0 applications such as Twitter have proved very useful in providing quick access to this information and applications like Facebook have given people access to information on the numerous ways that we can get involved to help those in need. The New Matilda has a really interesting article on the use of these applications to spread the word here.

New article by Stephen Abram on Web 2.0 and librarians

http://www.imakenews.com/sirsi/e_article000505688.cfm

While the article is somewhat a sales pitch for his firm SirsiDynix I did like the overall tone and the exposition of the idea of Librarian 2.0, which reminds us that Web 2.0 is all about us as contrivbutors it is not a top down technology, but an opening to allow us (all users) to share and contribute.

 

What is truly exciting is that Web 2.0 is just the title of a conversation. There is no standard (at least not just a single one). We can all participate and influence the development of the next generation of the Web. To the detail oriented, this conversation may be too high in the stratosphere without enough concrete recommendations, and to the theoretically inclined, it may remain too visionary for real implementation. Among all of us, it is worth following. Web 2.0 is probably the series title of the most important conversation of our age – and one whose impacts can be truly transformational on a global scale.”

Open access to learning

There has been much discussion of the usage of Web 2.0 and in particular social networking tools and their applicability for all staff. For some there is an expectation that before there is a promotion of usage among all staff that some overriding and defined reason for their use be found within a predetermined set of work expectations and practices.

This approach I believe is wrong-headed, it is a failure of imagination and a misunderstanding of learning methodologies. The usage of new technologies creates new and better work practices, this has been found with all successful technologies, and all of them have had no intrinsic workplace purpose in the first instance. We cannot know at this time how work will be improved by staff co-opting new skills into their toolset. But experience with other technologies proves it will. Staff themselves who work daily in their areas of expertise are the ones who will find new and better ways of working with new technologies. But they can only do this if they are given the opportunity and access to learn and develop in the technologies first.

It may also be considered that up-skilling and promoting better communications within staff is a social good in itself. And there should not be an expectation that the Library could lose by having better skilled staff.

As technological developments increase the stakeholders that the Library interacts with on a daily basis will be utilising new tools and so there will be an expectation that Library staff are fluent and capable of responding in compatible ways. No successful organisation outside of the Library is at a technological standstill and neither must the Library be.

Already many Library staff communicate with outside agencies through electronic means outside of email on a stationary desktop; this is a development that will continue.

Already a good number of individual staff are using these tools, but this seems to be mainly centred around those staff already working within an IT environment or within the areas of major public contact such as Reader Services. The Library as an organisation is also represented, there is a search application within Facebook, as well as a publicly founded promotional group. Multiple senior Library staff can be found representing the Library on Linked-In, the Library is actively involved in Flickr, is working co-operatively with search and content hosts and PANDORA has archiving agreements with Google, YouTube and MySpace. If the Library is being active within this environment, it should be the case that all its staff as individuals are also engaged and capable.

One argument against allowing staff to develop online skills in communication and sharing skills is that time will be lost to required tasks, that staff will use work time for non-work practices. This may well be the case in some instances, but this phenomenon will certainly not be new. Staff who wish to spend work time in non-work activities already have a myriad ways of doing so, and new technologies would not in themselves be the cause or reason.

I believe that all staff should be given the opportunity to engage at whatever level they comfortable with in the networked world. I also think that proscribing or describing how and why this connectivity should be mediated will be counter productive and will diminish the opportunities for a natural and progressive development.

Edgar Crook

links

Here are a few links that Bruce sent me that we will find useful…

There is a blog maintained by many librarians in Australia. I think it is called LINT.
http://librariesinteract.info/

You may also want to check this paper about library blogging in australia.
http://www.valaconf.org.au/vala2008/papers2008/106_Bradley_Final.pdf

Anyway if you wish to link to the web 2.0 learning blog it is here
http://nlaweblearning.blogspot.com/

For those of us who need an intro into some of the more unfamiliar concepts I think it might be good to review some of the tutorials from Bruce’s project.

Kristy