‘Government IT’ is not the same as ‘Gov 2.0’

The first real insights into where we stand on Gov 2.0?” Really? Are Govloop and the staff of the Dorobek INSIDER being serious? From a n=100 survey of government IT professionals? Think back to a similar survey of IT pros in 2010. There’s also a large community of people around the country who believe they’ve been sharing “real insight” into the area for years, including many readers and contributors at Radar or Govfresh know, along with, it’s worth noting, Govloop itself.

Look at the press release, which describes “Gov 2.0” as “the use of technology to make government an open platform that allows for greater innovation.” That’s concise and accurately describes the thinking and desired outcome, though it bears more explanation. Here’s a concrete example of how government, data and a public-private partnership led to a better outcome: Gov 2.0 is putting SEC data online in 1993.

Now look at this survey. Do these questions about the “top gov 2.0” tools asked of government IT pros — with answers that include social networks and video sharing — really measure anything related to open platforms? Those are activities that enable generative activity, like third parties building better interfaces for government using mobile applications. What about the status of implementing platforms?

HP Survey

The top takeaways from the release are that IT pros are concerned about security and budgets. Honestly, that’s a headline that’s been more or less true for the last decade.

IT pros think tablets are useful? OK. That mobile devices have a positive impact? OK, interesting, considering security concerns about data breaches from unencrypted devices. (See lost laptops over the last decade.)

Adopting new technology from IT enterprise vendors isn’t a bad thing, of course, particularly new “solutions” enable more productivity, efficiency or cost savings. All three of those issues are a continuing problem in the gap between government IT and the private sector.

I saw no questions, however, in the survey about open data, collective intelligence, challenges to maintaining platforms, ToS, SLAs, privacy or the digital/data divide, all of which have come up repeatedly in my conversations about government as a platform (Gov 2.0, as described in the release) over the past three years.

If any digital media organization is going to talk about what Gov 2.0 is, how it’s going and where it stands, I’d start there. Unfortunately, this reads to me like a survey of government IT pro priorities, with “Gov 2.0 tools” inserted into the question each time. The more relevant term, in that context, may be government IT marketing 2.0.

About Alex Howard

Alexander B. Howard is a DC-based a technology writer and editor. Previously, he was the Washington Correspondent at O'Reilly Media, where he covered the voices, technologies and issues that matter in the intersection of government, technology and society. If you're feeling social, you can follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook or circle him on Google Plus In addition to corresponding for the O’Reilly Radar, he has contributed to the Huffington Post, Govfresh, Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, National Journal, The Atlantic, CBS News and Forbes. He graduated from Colby College with a bachelor's degree in biology and sociology. Currently, he is a resident of the District of Columbia, where he lives with his greyhound, wife, power tools, plants and growing collection of cast iron pans, many of which are frequently used to pursue his passion for good cooking.

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