February 25, 2011Doug Hadden
Proper Government 1.0 Also Required
Doug Hadden, VP Products
Public sector unions have been demonstrating in Greece and Wisconsin because of public-sector austerity measures. The debate about these measures seem to rely more on dogma than fact. Unions and politicians leverage old media and industrial methods to present cases to the public. A so-called “court of public opinion.” And, not an open court.
So, it’s come to this….
The “winner” in these disputes might be the side that loses the least credibility. Losing trust in politicians or public employees results in losing trust in government across the board. The winner and loser both become losers. That’s why transparency and citizen engagement are cornerstones for 21st. century governance. Government 2.0 is needed to overcome this environment of political partisanship that turns citizens angry of apathetic.
A Government 2.0 Prescription
with a touch of back-office government financial systems
- Are public employees properly compensated? Full salary spend information, including benefits and travel expenditures needs to be tracked in back-office systems and presented to the public. Are public employees properly compensated?That’s up to the public to decide.
- Is public employee talent optimized? Training, performance appraisal and certification program information fro back-office civil service management information needs to be presented to the public. Merit systems must be transparent. The public service needs to be a career option for the very best in any country. Is public employee talent optimized. That’s up to the public to decide.
- Is government effective? Government outputs and outcomes need to be tracked for efficiency and effectiveness. The political debate is often about inputs (the amount spent) rather than performance. Is government effective? Is it too big? That’s up to the public to decide.
- Is government improving over time? Financial information collected from back-office systems needs to be presented in open data formats to citizens for visualization. Government financial management is complex. Government reports and documents make comparison difficult. Are governments improving over time? That’s up to the public to decide.
- Is government focused on what is important? Government needs to engage citizens on a regular basis. As Umair Haque points out. “voting is the most brittle kind of democracy, built on the tiniest of conversation.” In particular, budget and policy processes need to be opened up. Participatory budgeting that engages experts and citizens beyond those who traditional wield influence is necessary to improve government trust. It will also improve government performance. Is government focused on what is important? That’s up to the public to decide.
But at What Cost?
Transparency isn’t free. Many question the return on investment of open data and Government 2.0. It can be considered a “nice to have”. Yet, Gartner analyst Andrea di Maio has pointed out that Government 2.0 could be effective should the US federal government funding end next month.
Labour disputes cost everyone. Lack of efficiency and effectiveness costs everyone. Should the public be prepared to fund these current costs through taxes? Or, is the public purse better served with transparency?