How does a Conservative Government Change it's Spots & Adopt Social Media

I attended the very first Government 2.0 lunch today in Canberra which included the head of the newly formed Government 2.0 Taskforce, Dr Nicholas Gruen (link to twitter profile). The topic being discussed was how do we as engaged citizens working within and outside Government, assist the taskforce in it’s mission of putting in place a pathway for Government to transform to Government 2.0.  The taskforce at this point has a lifespan of 6 months, I do not think this is long enough.

Whilst the conversation was lively and animated, it was not structured and there were multiple coversations going on at once.  The people involved are all very passionate about assisting with change in Government and nearly all have very strong personalities and views.  There was much discussion and examples of what is currently not working in Government or is oudated and needs to be addressed.  End result was that only a few people really got to speak their mind and I am not sure how much of what was being said was truly useful to the taskforce at this point in time.  It was a great lunch and there was much enlightening and useful information.

My advice to the taskforce regarding Social Media would be to create a list and priortise, of course at the top of the list would be a Whole of Government Framework for Social Media Engagement.  All the agencies and different levels of Government are mostly very new to this, even on an indiviual personal level (individual employees), they need a high level set of “Rules of Engagement” as a starting point.  As part of the taskforces project based funding they should perhaps look at running an internal staff based Social Media program in one of the Agencies, uses could be polling staff for opinions, internal interest groups (Agency soccer team) and organising social events.  At the same time they could perhaps run an external Social Media program with another Agency which engages with citizens through applications such as Facebook and Twitter.

This is a massive task, policy needs to be rewritten as does some exisiting and nonexisting legislation.

Each Agency will need existing staff either trained, and trained well in Social Media or engage an existing Social Media resource, with individual agencies adopting the Whole of Government Framework and adapting to their Agencies needs.

Possible uses and benefits to Government in engaging in Social Media are enormous, the Victorian Bushfires are a prime example of disaster monitoring, engaging with citizens for opinions on policy changes, changes in legislation etc, the feedback is in realtime and immediate, hugely powerful.

Another truth which Government needs to realise is that even though they are blocking Social Networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, some of their employees are still using these tools through wireless and mobile devices.  Social Media Policy has now become an urgent issue for Government as it is already happening and in this situation firewalls are useless.


  1. Each Agency will need existing staff either trained, and trained well in Social Media or engage an existing Social Media resource, with individual agencies adopting the Whole of Government Framework and adapting to their Agencies needs.

    I am actually happy to finally hear someone talking about the skills needed to run these jobs and not the actual tools for the jobs.

    The gov could spend millions on new apps and tech but if staff don’t understand or even care about new web technologies then what is the point?

    I know many so called “web officers” who didn’t know what blogging or twitter was a few months ago, many don’t even know or care about it right now.

    Another issue is web officers who take their jobs as a typical public service job 9am to 5pm. Of course it is a public service job but IT is not like PA type of job and when it comes to the WWW you need to keep researching, studying and learning all the time.

    There should be a review on current State and Federal gov web areas and if staff don’t have the skills to do their job then they can have two options, 1. get some training or 2. just go somewhere else

    I think I have to go to the gov 2.0 site and suggest that. :-)

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