Our Nick gets the Nod 2.0

With all of today’s sturm und drang in Canberra, it perhaps slipped by Troppo readers that our own Nicholas Gruen has been tapped to head up a government taskforce on Government 2.0.

As I understand it, the taskforce is essentially being run out of AGIMO. Long time readers of Troppo will know that I’ve become a bit of an AGIMO fan over the years due to the good work they do. In this capacity Dave Bath deserves a hat-tip for championing their good work – and the work of the National Archives – on the fundamentals of good IT and information management.

The taskforce have set up a new blog. They’ve decided to walk the talk by setting up shop outside the traditional .gov.au box, with a blog hosted on WordPress.com.

It has been interesting to see reactions so far. Even some of the angry responses have nuggets of useful insight. Hopefully some of the suggestions will be taken on board – a lot of them seem to be in line with Nicholas’s remarks about ‘engineering for serendipity’.

One of the nice things about Government 2.0 chatter is that it introduces a new pressure to get the fundamentals right. Citizen users should demand reliability, transparency, searchability, automation etc etc from the new interfaces and contact points. In turn this puts the onus on each and every department to get its IT and info-management house in order. Personally I think that the folks at AGIMO and the NAA have been prophets in the wilderness on this for some time, so hopefully the new taskforce will give these issues the attention and high-level champions they deserve.

In terms of what governments do today, the gathering, transformation, storage, querying, studying of information; as well as acting on its meaning, is the core of almost every process. Smart systems can reduce that overhead and make it possible to improve the tooth-to-tail ratio of public spending. Ultimately, as a taxpayer and as a libertarian, I want to be government to be as efficient and effective as possible. Modern IT, judiciously applied on a government-wide basis, is one means to that end.

I hope that this taskforce is more than window-dressing, but at least I know it’s in good hands. Congratulations, Nicholas. I look forward to hearing more.

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