Reflections on Gov2.0

Nicholas Gruen had a fantastic piece of writing in the SMH on Saturday, also posted at Club Troppo.  He manages to do two things extremely well – highlight worthy work while politely disparaging old techniques that have become outdated.

Talking about the recent Prime Minister’s awards for Public Sector Management, he concludes that:

“For all I know, the judges chose the most meritorious public sector projects of this year. But the box ticking pedantry of their appraisal of the ”opportunities” for Queensland Police to lift their game makes me glad a different spirit animated the police in those days when things suddenly got serious in our lucky land; when the heavens opened and lives were lost or saved depending on what could be done in the space of 22 minutes.”

This is a most devastating critique that is grounded in tragedy that could have been so much worse. We cannot measure or quantify how many lives were saved because of the excellent work of the Queensland Police Service embracing social media in a time of crisis.  This does not mean the act should be discounted.

My personal Gov2.0 story is far less spectacular and thankfully did not involve the real life suffering.  Along with a few other people, we’ve ended up creating and promoting a blog run from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), from the GovSpace platform.  The blog, the Migration Blog, is nothing spectacular at first glance.  In fact it’s nothing spectacular after many glances. But the important factor is that the blog is a different form of communication and connects with people in a manner that is new for large public service agencies.  We can be responsive to when people ask questions and we can try and provide more information on subjects we know people struggle to understand.

The simple fact we have a blog that sits outside the DIAC webpage never ceases to amaze me.  This is owed to a mixture of good fortune and some decisions taken by senior executives who are perhaps a tad more willing to take risks than the average public servant. My friend’s take can be found here, providing a bit more flesh to how we went about our work.

Nicholas Gruen’s work to promote the Gov2.0 agenda should be recognised and perhaps on reflection, he will receive serious kudos for helping to incubate this growing part of social media in Australia.  His ability to promote the cause, through the opinion pages of the Saturday SMH no less, is fantastic and demonstrates that one person can have a strong influence that resonates for a long time, whether it be policemen and women embracing change and saving lives or bureaucrats slowly attempting to spread information about migration in Australia.

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