Top 5 ways to think about Gov 2.0

When considering modern communications, social networking and emerging technology, government has many different connotations

Lots of conferences and smaller events this year have focused on the theme of Government 2.0, which means many things to many people. I can’t possibly hope to describe what Government 2.0 is or should be in this short column, but what I can do is provide a Top 5 list of different ways to look at issues in modern communications, social networking, emerging technology and government modernization.

1. Government as a process is about the underlying processes that people don’t often see but employees spend most of their time dealing with. In this way of thinking about Gov 2.0, new technologies are being harnessed to promote internal sharing, build Enterprise 2.0 tools, create new efficiencies and discover novel uses of citizen input. One example is Spacebook, a social network for people who work at NASA facilities.

2. Government as a provider is a citizen-focused way of thinking about government work in which the government is seen as a giver of products and services. In this way of thinking, emerging technologies help government employees listen to citizens' needs and then provide public services that better meet those needs. One example is Princeton University’s Research Collections and Preservation Consortium project, which uses crowd sourcing to share federal court documents.

3. Government as a partner showcases novel relationships that organizations and people forge with government through the use of emerging technologies. Both sides have a strong interest in creating the best outcome possible. One example is the Arkansas Recovery Portal, which shows how the state is spending funds it receives under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

4. Government as a product means that the government is viewed as a storehouse of valuable information that can power computer applications and the like. That approach differs from government as a provider in the sense that, in addition to providing services such as Social Security benefits, the government offers products such as the raw information on the site. The Sunlight Foundation has created many platforms that make creative use of freely available government data.

5. Government as a protector and peacekeeper rounds out the Top 5. The government negotiates treaties, sends troops into harm’s way, and provides law enforcement, courts and other structures to keep most people safe most of the time. And agencies try to accomplish those missions better. One example is how the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used new-media technologies, such as Twitter, to inform the public about the recent recall of peanut products.

About the Author

Mark Drapeau is director of public-sector social engagement at Microsoft. 

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