Weighing a more balanced view of Government 2.0

There’s a lot to consider in Gartner analyst Andrea DiMaio’s newest post, toward a more “balanced view of government 2.0. Balanced views are good, as are research, evidence, case studies and solid reporting.

Unfortunately, I’m at the GOSCON Conference at the moment, so I can’t respond at length. I’m very glad he finds this blog informative. I’d also direct readers to the Gov 2.0 section at O’Reilly Radar for more content and other perspectives.

One thing I’d pose as a cautionary note to his last post is that the state of government 2.0 or open government can’t be measured simply by the answers of government CIOs, particularly at the federal level. It’s in the hands of more people than that, with respect to the “we government” meme that the Personal Democracy Forum has articulated.

That’s why, while Gartner’s view is both influential and something that many executives will clearly still spend money to gain, watching what’s happening at the state and local level is critical – and perhaps not reflected in its data gathering. I could well be wrong, naturally.

Resource-starved government entities at the state level are more likely to adopt free and open tools that require investments in time, much like the campaigns that are bootstrapping using social media and YouTube this election season instead of expensive TV buys. Just look at the choices that California has made for a precedent, where open government is connecting citizens to e-services with social media.

I’ve been asking a lot more questions about private sector value created from open government data. There are definitely examples that weren’t in that blog post that DiMaio referenced. That post should not be taken as comprehensive or exhaustive, merely easily referenced initiatives that I could offer to an audience that came fresh to the topic. Those include BrightScope (whose government 2.0 story TechCrunch covered last weekend), Passur Aeropspace, transit apps, or numerous healthcare apps that fold in CHDI data.

That said, the CIO panel at GOSCON just dropped several data points you might consider:

The data.ca.gov California apps contest yielded several startups, said CarolynLawson, including:

NYSenate.gov uses Drupal and a host of other technology choices that apparently have affected their bottom line. “We spent one million less last year, relative to the historical timeline,” said NY Senate CIO Andrew Hoppin.

If that open source framework is adopted elsewhere, similar cost savings to open government might be be available for you to cite.

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.

2 thoughts on “Weighing a more balanced view of Government 2.0

  1. Thanks for referring to my blog. I did not mean to say that the examples in that blog post were the ONLY ones: I know that you track a lot of those.
    I also want to correct an impression, i.e. that our audience would be mostly federal. We do have state and local clients, lots of them, and they were well represented at Symposium. So my statement about the loss of enthusiasm applies across the board.
    We can still point to few examples, not really game-changers, some of them based on the use of less expensive technologies than on the impact of technology on saving money.
    My suggestion is to start tracking examples that lead to measurable cost savings and efficiencies, as I believe cost optimization will remain a common theme across governments for a long time.
    I’d be curious to ascertain the cost savings mentioned for the NY Senate, both because it could be a great example and because I got a fair amount of slander from there, so it appears I must have pissed them off quite severely 🙂

  2. It’s only natural to refer to your blog in this context, Andrea. The issue I might take with your reference to those examples is that you found them “tired” and that you’re seeing the same case studies. Given that one of them was Challenge.gov, an initiative launched last month, does that really gibe? Or Civic Commons, which is still quite new? I gather you bear little good will for Code for America, which has yet to kick off fully.

    Is open government and gov 2.0 a lower priority for the state CIOs surveyed than other areas? The answers point to yes. Then again, cost saving in IT investments are high up there, along with innovation, collaboration, optimization and HIT.

    Here’s the thing: the open government projects I’ve reported are aimed at those precise issues, whether it’s social software, EHR exchanges or open source development.

    You may write here that there are other examples here – but that’s not at all the impression you leave on your blog. Or that I’m being repetitive when, in fact, I’ve reported on dozens of other people or places where substantive work is being done.

    Steve Radick pointed to Intellipedia. I might reference eDiplomacy within State, too, or the VA’s new Blue Button. I’d posit that the Blue Button is a game changer for disabled veterans. I’ll be posting about CONNECT again shortly. In short, that critique falls flat; it’s not all the same. There is so much going on in this space that I’ve ended up tweeting and sharing links on multiple platforms as opposed to many short posts.

    If you wonder about the cost savings of open government at the NY Senate, contact Andrew Hoppin. The recent succession of pessimism and limited coverage of any number of areas necessarily will have an impact upon this space, particularly with respect to the very same CIOs you talked to at the Symposium.

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