The Federal Government claims to have completed 90 percent of tasks that arose from the 2008 Gershon review and is now readying itself for a new, Web 2.0 culture.
Last week, the Government accepted most recommendations of the Government 2.0 Taskforce Report, agreeing to address copyright issues, establish Web 2.0 guidelines for agencies, and make a declaration of open government within "months".
iTnews spoke with Ann Steward, chief information officer of the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO), about plans to establish a more open, transparent government.
iTnews: What will be the biggest change to come from the Gov 2.0 approach (pdf)?
Steward: I think it will be around the cultural response we have as a Government. In particular, the way in which we're able to have greater levels of engagement with the public.
That interaction is particularly important, and helps us be better informed as we develop our policies or pull together our service delivery offerings.
How will Gov 2.0 activities be governed? How would a whole-of-government Web 2.0 policy differ from that of a corporation?
Steward: If they [companies] deployed new technologies or Web 2.0 activities or social media, they would no doubt have codes of practice for how they want their company to be seen in their sector, and to ensure that they give guidance to staff in how they use social media so that they don't release information that is commercially disadvantageous.
That's fairly similar to government, where we have our Australian Public Service (APS) Code [of Conduct] are employed under the Public Service Act. We also have a great deal of information that we hold on behalf of citizens and need to maintain highest levels of confidentiality and privacy and security for all of that. And then we have other data and information that goes to national security issues.
How will you "encourage public servants to engage online", as per taskforce recommendations?
That will be a matter for each of the individual agencies, taking into account their own programs, areas and focus of attention. Existing guidance that the APS issued last November provides them with a starting point.
We [the Department of Finance] have deployed Facebook and Twitter for our own staff so they can be familiar with these tools and understand how they can be applied in our own workforce to help what we do.
We've provided guidance to our staff to help them understand how they should go about that, consulting with their managers to ensure that they are adhering to the broader APS guidelines and preserving all of the appropriate confidentiality of data that the Department holds on behalf of the Government as well.
Would Gov 2.0 have an impact on the digital divide?
Web 2.0 is complementary to existing channels -- it does not replace them at all. Again, this will be something that each individual department and agency will examine as part of their service delivery arrangement.
I think in fact, it [Web 2.0] will do more to bridge it [the digital divide] and to ensure that there are a variety of ways in which information and input can be provided from citizens to Government.
Read on to page two for AGIMO's plans for moderation and copyright.