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Government 2.0 and Innovation


November 16, 2010

Doug Hadden, VP Products

What exactly is “government innovation’? Perhaps, like my presentation last year pointed out about “government performance”, many may see this as an oxymoron. Nada Teofilovic argues against the assumption that  “bureaucratic administration lacks the prerequisites for innovation, namely creative thinking, idea experimentation and inventiveness.”

Innovation is an underlying theme for my upcoming presentation on Government 2.0.

Ms. Teofilovic describes  innovation using the Government of Canada as a case study:

In response to a range of economic, political and ideological demands, the structures and processes of governance are changing and modernizing. The traditional public service is developing creative ways to address fiscal restraints and citizen demands for efficient service delivery; conventional, process-oriented public administration is giving way to results-focused public management; and federal departments are collaborating and working horizontally to overcome the hegemony of central agencies. In view of these developments, innovation is becoming a reality in government.

Government 2.0 support government as an economic innovation incubator and as services modernization.

Innovation is alive and well in government and will be further transformed thanks to Government 2.0, as described in Steven Johnson’s  Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation

Economic Innovator

Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media, who invented the term “Web 2.0″, is a strong advocate of “government as platform“:

government is, at bottom, a mechanism for collective action. We band together, make laws, pay taxes, and build the institutions of government to manage problems that are too large for us individually and whose solution is in our common interest.

There are many who resist this notion of government as a “technology platform” or that “open data” can generate economic value. These are a bit hard to prove using legacy measurement tools. Nevertheless, there is compelling evidence of “government as platform” in the analogue world – the Internet, GPS, road and rails systems.

As Mr. O’Reilly sees it:

Government 2.0, then, is the use of technology—especially the collaborative technologies at the heart of Web 2.0—to better solve collective problems at a city, state, national, and international level.

Services Modernization

Governments are striving for services innovation. Reform of government to provide a better value to citizens has become a major political theme for the past 3 decades, according to Dr. Elaine Kamarack.

Government 2.0 promises to extend the value of citizen and business services beyond traditional e-government. E-government has focused primarily on computerizing service delivery and supporting transactions. Process-centric services. Structural. Not the services that can be enabled through collaboration, as I’ve described in a white paper about Knowledge Management 2.0 and Government 2.0.

Government 2.0 offers improved effectiveness in internal collaboration that can result in improved services.

Government application categories include:

  • Internal: internal by governments
  • External: external to government with government involvement
  • Structural: follow government structure and mandate
  • Social: enable collaboration

Our framework suggests that there are three classes of applications:

  • Back-office: operational budget, financial and civil service management-transaction management
  • E-Government: exposing government information and transactions
  • Government 2.0: social networking whether exclusively internal or collaborating externally

Therefore, Government 2.0 has the potential to extend services innovation from back-office and e-government functions. And, it has the potential to provide innovation separate from structural applications.


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Doug Hadden

Doug Hadden

Executive Vice President, Innovation at FreeBalance
Doug is responsible for identifying new global markets, new technologies and trends, and new and enhanced internal processes. Doug leads a cross-functional international team that is responsible for developing product prototypes and innovative go-to-market strategies.

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