Friday, June 24, 2011

ACT (finally) outlines open government plan

I am writing this piece as a resident in the ACT, with shades of my Gov 2.0 advocacy cap. And I should say, as a partially disappointed resident.

The ACT Chief Minister, Katy Gallagher, has finally laid out the ACT Government's vision for open government.

It's about time. The ACT has been a tailender at the State and Territory level for quite some time in the open government space, with occasional sparks of excitement quickly fading back into embers.

However rather than an auspicious start focusing on the benefits of openness to citizens and the Territory, Gallagher's media release focuses on political benefit.
"The plans outlined in a Ministerial Statement to the Assembly today, are set to make the ACT Cabinet the most open in the nation"
The most open cabinet in the nation... Not the most open government, or even the most effectively and sustainably open government.

I commend the step the ACT government is taking to establish an "open government website" - although a three month timeframe, if the website is starting now, leaves little room to build something meaningful or matching citizen expectations. I hope that the developers can pull off a miracle and develop something of substance, however I feel for them and the timeline they've been given.

I get worried at the announcement of a "commitment to hold a Virtual Community Cabinet on Twitter next month".

Twitter is not an effective mechanism for this type of endeavour. I would prefer to see a liveblog, supported by moderation, through a tool with strong archival and management mechanisms and on a more broadly used medium - such as CoverItLive.

And the step to "release a weekly report on key issues discussed and decisions taken by the Cabinet, starting in the first week in July" is a classic Gov 1.0 tactic transferred online.

The government could have been doing this type of informing at any time using other mediums - newsprint, radio or even television. Placing a transcript or list of topics and decisions online doesn't add much and certainly isn't in the spirit of Gov 2.0.

ACT has the highest concentration of Government 2.0 talent in Australia - with many Commonwealth agencies now launching and successfully managing these initiatives.

We should be the most advanced open government jurisdiction in Australia.

However this announcement by the Chief Minister doesn't support this view.


  1. I wonder who will be working on the implementation of Open Gov2.0 in the ACT Government and do they have the skills do get the job done right?.
    Wanting to use Twitter for a virtual community cabinet shows their understanding of social media already, big #fail.

  2. That they've made an announcement at all is something of note. That the various parts of it seem rather misguided rather worry me, much as they do you.

    Given the fairly connected nature of the Australian open government community, and that few (any?) of us had heard about this announcement before it was made, and none of us that I'm aware of were asked to provide input of any sort, you have to wonder who's involved and what their credentials are...

  3. I have asked a few friends who work in the ACT Gov with knowledge in Social Media and they had not idea about this Twitter announcement either. They can't even communicate internally, good luck with their open government engagement.

  4. It's been broad knowledge accross ACT Gov for a while that this event will be taking place. Maybe your friends should pull their heads out of the sand and come along to the meetings where these things are announced?

  5. It seems, from the second Anonymous above, that there's need within the ACT government to train staff on appropriate social media engagement for public servants.