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Wednesday, 12 May 2010 22:51

Swannie bankrolls Gov 2.0 change program


Treasurer Wayne Swan's third federal Budget has delivered the first green shoots of public administration reform that incorporate core Web 2.0 technologies for citizen consultation and collaboration and incorporates broad philosophies of open government.

Chief among several budgeted initiatives was $38.7 million in additional funding over three years to the Australian Public Service Commission to drive the challenging cultural change within the public sector that is seen as a necessary precursor to allowing government to engage more effectively with citizens, community groups and business on policy development.

Overseen by Prime Minister & Cabinet and the Department of Finance, the initiatives fund many of the Gov 2.0 recommendations contained in PM&C's March report called Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for Reform of Australian Government Administration.

The report recommended the development of mechanisms for community engagement that utilised 2.0 technologies and services like Twitter and wikis, and to formulate policies and guidelines to allow public service employees to use these services confidently and within APS protocols.

It also directed Finance to develop policies that would make public sector data more open, accessible and reusable - and to identify what public service information could be published under an open licensing arrangement.

The report dovetailed with Finance's Government 2.0 Taskforce report that similarly pressed for an open government regime that would make open access to public information the default position for Government.

In releasing a formal response to the Gov 2.0 Taskforce recommendations, Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner acknowledged that the real challenge in implementing the initiative would be in changing public service culture to become more consultative.

The $38.7 million funding boost to the APS commission starts the delivery process of the Gov 2.0 initiatives in those reports, and starts with the development of new public service protocols and guidelines that would enable government employees to deal directly with citizens in policy development.

ACT Labor senator Kate Lundy, who has been an enthusiastic voice for the adoption of Gov 2.0 practices in Australia - if not the driving force behind the initiatives - said the level of funding and the fact that it was attached to an implementation time showed Government was serious about the measures.

Senator Lundy also drew satisfaction from the the Budget papers being published under a creative commons attribution licence for the first time, something the Gov 2.0 Taskforce recommended as a default for all Government publications where it was consitent with privacy and secrecy laws.

"It's a little thing, but the symbolism of it is large and it augers very well for our future endeavors in implementing the Gov 2.0 Taskforce report, because that really strongly recommended a far greater use of Creative Commons By Attribution licence by government," Senator Lundy said.


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