John Haining, the Director of Innovation for Michael Johnson Associates speaking on "Helping government understand the Web 2.0 needs of businesses" as part of the proceedings from the Public Sphere event on Government 2.0, hosted by Senator Kate Lundy on the 22nd June 2009.
This slides from this talk are here:
The rest of the videos from the day are linked from the schedule at:
All slides are available at:
I'm not going to talk about what's necessary for all businesses. Michael Johnson Associates is a very very niche consultancy, we help organisations claim research and development tax concessions, eg: Australian companies getting government money, connecting people to government services, across a very very wide range of organisations. So my view is a very narrow view, having experienced government all the way from parliamentary drafting through to public consultation and other processes involved, including audit processes, which is something we haven’t touched on today.
I’ve also got a perspective on innovation. We’re all here, looking at innovation through government, but innovation is by its nature quite a fringe activity and we represent the fringe in this case. Some of us wear suits, some of us don’t, but we are the fringe…
A number of people have spent some time today talking the network effect and how things get nicely squared as they go and there’s the parallel with the Internet and that’s a wonderful insight that nodes allow this to happen. The other really powerful enabling concept behind the Internet that we can learn from and we can apply in Government 2.0 is the idea of feedback loops, very robust feedback loops. So when the presentation from (John Shanahan CEO of) Colmar Brunton [vimeo.com/5332280] talked about the idea of new policies and getting feedback, the feedback loop prior to the next iteration or the next form of policy is actually one of the fundamentally important concepts.
We work in a field where we were promised that government services would be available online in the first part of the 21st Century, and they were, in a wonderful thing called Adobe Forms… Which isn’t perhaps the best way of achieving online delivery of services. But this started off a whole process for us that I’ll relate as part of my story in the next three and a half minutes.
So my experience working with most businesses and in fact our businesses, working with government is that most of us are after one thing, one principle thing from government when we’re interacting and that’s certainty. That’s certainty in the way that transactions occur, it’s certainty in the way regulations will be enforced, it’s certainty in the way that policy will be developed, articulated and administered and its certainty in the way that we can interact further with government.
So I think that it’s quite a simple thing when you look at what Web 2.0 can mean for business and government; we can have greater certainty. We can get away, perhaps, from the big budget night announcements and the detailed analysis in the front page of the Herald the next day about who the winners and who the losers were, because government isn’t about one budget night. Government is an ongoing, iterative process that happens day by day.
In terms of the businesses that I work with and the interactions we have with government, we’re at a very interesting time. Nick Gruen, who’s heading up the Gov 2.0 Taskforce has just come out of being one of the government representatives in the national innovation system review (which touched very heavily on areas we’re looking at) and we’re about to go into policy formulation mode. So the budget announced some fantastic new initiatives around research and development tax credits and other things and we have an opportunity to perhaps explore some of these Government 2.0 concepts in getting policy formulation, design and administration to happen. We can perhaps chart a new way.
I found as I was researching, the consultation.business.gov.au website, which is a great Web 1.0 technology. You can register for updates if there’s a government enquiry into particular areas that might effect your business, which is fantastic, it leads you to all sorts of parliamentary resources and other things, but it doesn’t let you do any consultation online, it just tells you that there’s a consultation happening.
Another important area that we could hit is this idea of access to services (and Adobe Forms don’t let you do it) and it may solve some of the three levels of government issues that we had before. What we want is actual interaction with data through an API so that we can make calls for data on a trusted basis and push data back where we have the right credentials.
Adobe has done me really badly here exporting this slide, but I wouldn’t be a true consultant if I didn’t give you a little framework to work with. When you’re trying to engage managers in internal organisations and government, this is not a bad one to start with. Michael de Percy [vimeo.com/5330434] started with the idea that public trust in government is at an all time low according to Uhr’s 2005 research, so how can we do things that actually increase trust and increase transparency, because the two don’t necessarily go together, as receiving 471,000 pages of expense reports might show you…
Finally, on the Gov 2.0 Taskforce; we need action, not motherhood. As a member of industry hearing the discussions that go on in the boardrooms of Australia, really that’s what we’re after and I invite you to continue the conversation with me and the other people in the room.
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