Australia’s Government Chief Information Officer, Ann Steward, urged civil servants to become “Gov 2.0 activists” at the FutureGov Forum Australia this week (Tuesday 27th July). She also had strong words for government agencies on the accessibility of their online services.
The head of the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) was speaking six months after the conclusion of the Government 2.0 Taskforce, which laid out a “cultural change programme” to bring greater transparency and openness to government through social media and open data.
Steward said that although a lot of good work was being done, agencies needed to identify the internal barriers to embracing Gov 2.0, and develop an “action agenda” not only within their own agencies, but for collaboration with other agencies on common service areas - and the Australian public.
“How many of you are working collaboratively in externally hosted environments?” Steward asked delegates at the National Convention Centre in Canberra, prompting a show of hands. “A few, but not many,” she noted. “We need more activists to lead the way.”
General elections will be held next month (August 21st 2010) and a caretaker government is now in place. Despite the political uncertainty, Steward said that “life goes on” and agencies should press on with reform plans.
A key outcome of the Government 2.0 Taskforce was a declaration on open government. Steward noted: “Information is one of the riches of the public sector. We have not done enough with this information in the past. The government reform blueprint urges agencies to involve citizens and community groups in how public sector information is used.”
“The blueprint is very clear in its emphasis: informing, engaging and participating. Many of you are doing this already in your personal lives. Now is the time to do so in your working lives,” she added.
AGIMO is a member of the Gov 2.0 steering committee, working with the Prime Minister’s office and agencies such as the National Archives of Australia, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics, to champion Gov 2.0 and report examples of best practice. “We’re proposing to walk the talk on Gov 2.0,” Steward declared. “We will be releasing minutes on key meetings and proposals, and will be very much part of the Gov 2.0 push.”
Last year, the government of Australia launched the open data platform data.gov.au, and a revised version is currently being trialled, Steward revealed. The agency has also launched a blog platform which agencies will be encouraged to use.
Improving efficiencies, service provision and shared services in government is also a strategic priority for AGIMO, as is promoting improved access to online services, Steward explained.
“It is evident that we need to do more work on accessibility,” she said. “Recently we launched guidelines to promote access to services irrespective of internet speed, age, wealth or disability. You might not be familiar with these guidelines, but be mindful that the human rights commissioner is good at finding agency web sites that are not compliant.”
“It doesn’t need me to be monitoring you in that regard,” she said. “This is an action agenda that needs to be taken seriously. More training will be made available to make sure accessibility obligations are met.”
In a visit to Ngee Ann Secondary School yesterday (22 July), FutureGov found students deeply ...
The Infocomm Development Authority and Ministry of Education of Singapore have initiated plans to introduce ...
Ngee Ann Secondary School’s students are on a bid to “change the world” with ...