Gov 2.0 or circa 1980



Lots of talk of late on Government 2.0, good friend Nick Cowie has a blog searching for examples of it, Stephen Collins is trying to rile it up, Matthew Hodgson muses over it and John Allsopp wonders if the future is now for some, there are blog posts all over the shop, lots of conference sessions even.

Now the Federal agency – Australian Communications and Media Authority has released a paper on the top six trends in technology, applications and services trends for the next five to 10 years. Now they suggest that Social Networking Sites (the core of Gov 2.0) :

may evolve over the next 5 years to become integrated hubs for individuals, organisations and their extended networks to connect, communicate, access and share tailored news, information and entertainment..

I had to laugh at this. The same day I read this report I ran smack bang in to Government Agency that isn’t even in web 1.0. More like the web -1.0 of the 1980’s.

All I wanted to do was get a reprint of an official document. I expected to have to validate who I was, as you do and maybe pay via credit card. But I forgot this was the realm of Yes Minister.

For a simple reprint. I have to write a letter, will an email do, no it has to be a written letter. Okay I think, can I send you a signed PDF, no it has to be a real paper letter with a real written signature.

Do they have forms for this request, to my surprise they didn’t, now that was a little strange, this was Government after all.

Next the payment, well this was even better, it has to be cheque or money order, nothing else.

User Experience – perplexing at best!

With this massive advancement in the use of (basic) technology it does make me question if Government in general will be ready in even 5 years for Gov 2.0.

Now I know I live and work in an environment a little advanced in the use of technology and communication tools than the average joe, so I am bias, but is it that much. I remember Government agencies being like this in the 1980s, before desktop computers.

I can respect that the tools I use everyday will not be taken up by people in general for another 5 or so years, but the nature of my work keeps me grounded to people’s needs and requirements on the use of technology. Still am I in a time warp.

So what do you think. Are we living in too much of a bubble in the Web Industry. Am I expecting way to much from people. Or are we just so far a head of the average joe that we are forming a hyper-communication technological divide?

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1 comment

  1. I am afraid Government 2.0 will not get off the ground as long as government departments keep deferring to the lawyers in their midst for opinions on managing risk. If you are not risk adverse as a lawyer you don’t end up working for the government anyway. All the good ones move on very quickly to corporate law somewhere.

    It would be that sort of lawyers opinion that a request for a reprint is a legal document, or even a contract as it involved money, and therefore needs a signature. As of a couple of years ago the state courts were not accepting electronic signatures (or copies of legislation for that matter) as valid under the Evidence Act. It did matter which magistrate that you got when going to court but any really risk adverse lawyer would cover all bases and insist on paper documents.

    You can see that that type of thinking flows through to a decision that all transactions have to be paper based. And it would be hard to shift. A bureaucrat when asked to change would just need to point to the written in stone “legal opinion” to justify not changing. It wouldn’t matter that times and the law had actually moved on because they would need a second legal opinion to that effect before changing.

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