What with Obama-dot-prez taking power, and the excitement around the transition from change.gov to whitehouse.gov, followed quickly by the appearance of this executive order mandating increased government transparency and citizen participation in the Obama administration, lots of talk about 2.0 stuff in and around govt south of the border.
Key bit for me in the “Transparency and Open Government” memo:
I direct the Chief Technology Officer, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Administrator of General Services, to coordinate the development by appropriate executive departments and agencies, within 120 days, of recommendations for an Open Government Directive, to be issued by the Director of OMB, that instructs executive departments and agencies to take specific actions implementing the principles set forth in this memorandum. The independent agencies should comply with the Open Government Directive.
Hmmm, my spidey senses are tingling… Now I don’t know a lot about how the US government operates specifically, but when I read about coordinating the development of recommendations for “specific actions” for implementation of the Presidential memo, I can envisage bags of money being spent on building stuff, whether or not it is needed or useful. But which agency heads can point to as evidence that they are meeting these objectives. (And of course, there’s the endless stream of strategy docs, breifing notes and business cases that justify the spend.)
This kind of situation usually means opportunities galore for consultants ….
In the best case scenario, there is an opportunity here for the ascendance of a new digitally-enabled class of government worker, supported by able and connected outside experts, to push Obama’s government 2.0 agenda forward. These are collectively dubbed the “Goverati” by Government 2.0 insider Mark Drapeau. Sounds very nice — Will it play out?
Or will the day be carried by what Geoff Livingston recently labelled government 2.0 carpetbaggers? And as Aaron Brazell added, “If You’re a Government 2.0 Guru, You have no Business in Government 2.0:”
They [these gurus] have appeared on the scene in recent months, read the blogs and brushed up on their government-fu. They probably come from traditional, and sometimes social media communications backgrounds. They have been working with small companies in the web space or otherwise, and expect the principles which have governed their trade to transcend the halls of Commerce, Agriculture, State and Defense. Therefore, they believe, they are experts.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the principles of transparency, collaboration and participation. It’d be nice to see the “Goverati” ideal play out. But I’ve seen how business gets done in the bureaucracy, too. Yup, those spidey senses are tingling, alright.