This site was developed to support the Government 2.0 Taskforce, which operated from June to December 2009. The Government responded to the Government 2.0 Taskforce's report on 3 May 2010. As such, comments are now closed but you are encouraged to continue the conversation at

The last post: now for the main event – you!

2010 May 5
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by Nicholas Gruen
Your Global Village Needs You! by The_Donald.

Photo by Limbic used under Creative Commons

This post also appears on the AGIMO blog, where you are able to contribute comments and continue the conversation.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, that’s about it from us. We laboured hard, but less long than some similar exercises and came up with a report of which I think we were all proud. Now, at least if I can speak for myself, I think the government response has shown that it was worthwhile. Very significant progress has been made in the government’s response to our report.

Though I must confess as an outsider, it seemed just plain commonsense, when we started the Taskforce almost no government documents had been licensed ‘creative commons’ (CC). Now the government has accepted our recommendation that CC be the default, and indeed that the default be one of the most permissive licences CC-BY which allows complete freedom to reproduce, and remix subject only to the acknowledgement of the original source.

So having advocated what I used to see as no more than a small commonsensical change, I’m pleased to see that it’s been adopted, with the response to the Government 2.0 Taskforce being one of the first cabs off the rank to be licensed CC-BY. Australia will be one of the first governments in the world with such a policy. For me the change is also emblematic of the bigger picture. For the last few months journalists have asked me questions which have assumed that the ‘big day’ was the day of the announcement.

Throughout I’ve remained unperturbed about the announcement, not because it doesn’t matter, but because all those at the top can do is to do their best to embrace the possibilities of Government 2.0, to try to actively facilitate it, including, where appropriate, get out of the way. The announcements we have are exciting. Our recommendations were fairly uncompromising, and the government has adopted all the most important ones.

But, and I would have been saying this no matter what the decisions were, what really matters is what happens now.  Because Government 2.0 is ultimately about what individual agencies, and yes, individual public servants do to make it happen.  Before them lies a vast field of promise, but one that is still new. It won’t always be easy to work out ways of being more open, more candid, more participatory at the same time as being just as professional and apolitical as public servants have always been expected to be. (Especially when the media, and those whose job it is to point to inadequacies in the government’s performance, lie in wait every hour of the week for the thrill of some slip-up or embarrassment whether imagined, or otherwise.)

But we’ve been going about the job for a little while now and there are lots of experiments underway, many of which are already proving their success.  One of the things I took most pride in was the enthusiasm with with the International Reference Group we’d managed to sign up, responded to the report. They were kind enough to record some of their comments on our blog and and we were immodest enough to record some of them in Chapter Seven of our report.

Gartner’s Andrea DiMaio gave us an ‘A’ and second top billing in his list of ‘bests’ for Government 2.0  in 2010. I think an important reason he did is because we foregrounded the role of public servants in Government 2.0 (to whom he gave top billing!).  That just underscores the fact that, along with open data, specific projects and the way public servants engage online with the Australian community are the building blocks of Government 2.0. read more…

Response to the Government 2.0 Report

2010 May 3
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by Lindsay Tanner

In June last year, this site was launched with a video from Dr Nicholas Gruen and myself announcing the creation of the Government 2.0 Taskforce. Today I am pleased to be able to close this first phase of the Australian Government’s foray into the area of Web 2.0 by releasing the Rudd Government’s response to the Taskforce’s report.

The Taskforce – of which Dr Gruen was chair – was appointed by Senator Joe Ludwig and I to advise the Government on how we could use Web 2.0 technologies to deliver better services to, and facilitate greater engagement with, Australians.

Those of you who have followed and contributed to this blog closely will be well aware of the work the Taskforce undertook: consulting online and in person; considering submissions from individuals and organisations; and eventually delivering a thorough and informative report. For this, I would once again like to thank Dr Gruen, the Taskforce members and all those who contributed for their efforts.

The Taskforce’s report recommended changes to a range of areas, including co-ordinated leadership, guidance, support and recognition for agencies and public servants engaging online, and the important considerations of accessibility and security.

The Government’s response to this report, which Senator Ludwig and I released today, shows twelve of the report’s 13 recommendations were generally agreed to. We have deferred our response to one recommendation about tax deductibility for information philanthropy until it can be considered in the context of the review of Australia’s Future Tax System and the research report on the Contribution of the Not-for-Profit Sector.

The Taskforce’s central recommendation was that the Australian Government make a declaration of open government. The Rudd Government has accepted that recommendation and we expect to make such a declaration in the coming months.

Whilst today is the completion of one phase, it is also very much the beginning of a new one. The task now is to implement these changes, beginning with assisting agencies to make the most of the opportunities offered by Web 2.0.

My department, the Department of Finance and Deregulation has begun doing this via its new blog which has been launched today.  The team within the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) within my department will use this blog to continue the online conversation with you, our citizens and our stakeholders.

This new blog represents another step towards more participatory and open government. I will be closely monitoring the progress of this agenda across the Government and expect my department and its people to be engaged drivers of this agenda. I hope you will continue making contributions via this blog. We look forward to hearing more of your ideas and views.

There is no doubt the internet and collaborative technologies offer significant scope for the Government to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery, public administration and community engagement. I look forward to realising those improvements through our Gov 2.0 agenda.

Guest Post: The Victorian Department of Justice and Web 2.0

2009 December 31
by Nicholas Gruen

Darren Whitelaw is what I call a public sector entrepreneur – which means nothing more nor less than that he’s someone tries to get things done including new things. He’s with the Department of Justice in Victoria and is very active in Government 2.0 in that state. I suggested to him through Patrick McCormick who is similarly a public sector entrepreneur and recently moved to Justice that a guest post on what the Department had been up to would be welcomed. And so here is his post.

A journey of discovery

The Gov2.0 Taskforce’s final report provides a compelling roadmap for the Australian public sector’s future online journey and contributes new insights and ideas to the global Gov 2.0 conversation. As online service delivery becomes commonplace, and citizen expectations for more efficient and effective public services increase, the role of Web 2.0 in government cannot be underestimated.

The challenge for the public sector, much like the private sector, is not only to make use of these emerging technologies, but also to ensure there is the cultural change to support them. Victoria’s Justice Department has been using various Web 2.0 technologies over the past 18 months – to help respond to Black Saturday bushfires, reduce the impact of problem gambling, tackle excessive drinking, show public support for emergency service volunteers, help people assess their level of fire season readiness, and demonstrate transparency around speed cameras. These efforts have delivered tangible benefits but it hasn’t always been a smooth journey.

We’ve learnt that adoption of community collaboration takes time. Creating online communities built on credibility and trust is a big job, one that involves tinkering, listening, revising and trying again. It’s more a slow burn, than an explosion. And if we are going to fail, it’s best to fail small and fast, so we can adapt and try again. It’s an iterative process.

I can think of three things that have been instrumental to this journey:

1) Provide access to information
2) Enable user-generated content
3) Go where people are read more…

Strategy and surfing the wave of serendipity

2009 December 30
by Nicholas Gruen

When preparing for a talk to HOCI – the Heads of Collecting Agencies – I checked out this piece on “the National Library of Wales’ development of a strategic approach to meeting user needs in a post-Web 2.0 world.”  This is what the author says:

Whilst what distinguished success from failure in these instances was often not a paper document outlining what was to be achieved but a combination of organisational support, a willingness to experiment (and to fail) – and most importantly – a clear understanding of what was achievable.

Now there are things that I clearly agree with here – particularly the need for ‘permission to fail’.  What about the insistence that the most important thing was to understand what was achievable: well who could object to that? It seems the very acme of commonsense. Now if we take it as a piece of commonsense then perhaps it means that if you set up a social media site, don’t expect that volunteers are going to start solving all your problems.  But if that’s the case, then it’s also a pretty empty thing to say. If it’s making a strong claim to insight – which the body language of the paragraph suggests it is, I think it is both wrong and that it contradicts the earlier injunction to be prepared to experiment.  If an experiment is anything, it seems to me it is something that one cannot have a “clear understanding” of what it might achieve. read more…

Christmas 2.0

2009 December 24
by Nicholas Gruen

Well we’re all winding down here, though I’m hoping to add a post or two before things wind down further.  As you probably know, the Taskforce formally ceases to exist on the 31st December. Most of the infrastructure of the Taskforce is in the process of being closed down. This blog will be staying open for reference and for any further discussion that arises on existing posts beyond the 31st December when the Taskforce ceases to exist. Taskforce members will have the option of publishing new posts if they choose. While the secretariat has disbanded, moderation will still be provided by AGIMO and any Taskforce members like me who receive feeds of comments on most posts and notice anything amiss. AGIMO have told me that they’ll keep you up to date with what is happening with the progress of the Report through government through regular posts.

But one of my treats for this morning was reading Rose Holley’s new piece on “Crowdsourcing and Social Engagement: Potential, Power and Freedom for Libraries and Users”.  Actually I’ve not yet read her paper, but have been through the slides which offer a great sampling of the crowdsourcing libraries and other institutions in the galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAM) sector have been up to.  (Actually there are other similar institutions, like botanical gardens of which Australia has at least two of the world’s greatest in Melbourne and Sydney, but where would you stick a ‘BG’ into GLAM?. . . . but I digress).

Anyway, I recommend it to you dear Gentle Readers 2.0 and wanted to put this thought in your head.  This Christmas if our own experience and statistics regarding the past are a reasonable source for generalising about the future you will have some spare time on your hands.  You may even be a bit bored.  So you could go to any of the sites mentioned by Rose in her presentation, and you could pass a little time at the same time as bringing a tad more joy to the world – you could make the world a touch better by the application of your time and intelligence.

All you need do is follow any or all of these links, have a look around and do a bit of volunteer work for your fellow human being.

And thanks to all for helping us on our journey this year. There were times when it looked like I’d have to go cap in hand to the Ministers who had set us our task to tell them we’d failed to get it done satisfactorily in time and to request an extension (In fact there had been informal discussions and the extension was there if we really needed it). But we did it, and judging from the reactions to our draft report, particularly from those around the world, we’ve got a great result.

So Merry Christmas one and all. As for the Happy New Year, I hope for that even more, but as far as this agenda is concerned, it’s over to the government – and you!

Final Taskforce Report released

2009 December 22
by Peter Alexander [Taskforce Secretariat]

The Taskforce’s final report, Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0, was handed to Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner and Special Minister of State Joe Ludwig today. The Ministers have decided to release the report to the public immediately. You can find a copy at:

Not for Profit PSI Contest Announcement

2009 December 21
by Lisa Harvey

It was very pleasing to see the number of proposals that were submitted for our not-for-profit contest.  It shows that there is not only strong demand for public sector information in this important sector of the Australian economy, but also great potential for them to contribute to public policy development and Government service delivery if we can just make it easier for them to access relevant PSI.

There were some really good ideas put forward that showed creativity and had a clear sense of purpose. Some of the better ideas that caught the eye of the Taskforce were: read more…

From draft to final report

2009 December 20
by Nicholas Gruen

Well we put the finishing touches to the final report on Friday and it’s been working its way through the proofing and designing stage.

We will be ready to provide the finished report to Ministers Tanner and Ludwig on Tuesday, 22 December 2009.

We have tightened the structure as described below. This makes the argument flow better and reduces repetition. We’ve got quite a bit more content in using about the same number of pages. We propose three pillars – a trinity if you’re feeling at all theological at this time of year which are the foundations of getting to Government 2.0:

1. Leadership,

2. Engagement and

3. Open access to public sector information.

Here’s the final report structure: read more…

Innovation and Government 2.0

2009 December 20

Government 2.0 is integral to delivering on several agendas that the Government has running at present.  It’s central to delivering on Innovation in Government – and that’s the subject of a review which with I have been involved being conducted within the Department of Innovation under the auspices of the Management Advisory Committee which is a forum of Agency Heads established under the Public Service Act to advise Government managing the Australian Public Service.

As part of our own exercise I asked the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) to have a look at the data it compiled for its State of the Service Report this year.  It has only come out in the last few weeks, so there was no time for them to do the analysis and for us to get it into our draft report.  In fact we’ve not included this in our final report for reasons I’ll explain.  But it’s interesting and deserves to be on the record. read more…

Online engagement as a public service pathway: the column

2009 December 18
by Nicholas Gruen

Here’s today’s column in the SMH, which the SMH slightly edited down.

Who is Julie Hempenstall? She lives in Bendigo and she likes reading Australia’s historic newspapers. The National Library has hoisted its collection on the net and had them digitised by computers. I can see what keeps her there. Hard at work drafting this article I just spent the last hour reading about early Sydney – about the Governor’s plan for a school for aboriginal boys and girls to “improve the Energies of this innocent, destitute, and unoffending race.” It wasn’t a raging success.

Anyway, the computer digitisation of that article was full of mistakes. Why? Optical character recognition isn’t perfect even with clean print and certainly not with two hundred year old, stained, yellowed newspapers with antiquated fonts – or fontfs as it was printed in 1788. But people like Julie have pored over the articles and the Library’s clever ‘crowdsourcing’ website allows them to correct mistakes they find.

It’s addictive. I found the obituary of an extraordinary Englishman William Stanley Jevons who was an architect of modern economics. He turned up in Sydney in his teens in 1854 and was a busy fellow. He became assayer to our mint, was newspaper photographer in Australia (strictly a hobby) and the first to document the El Nino effect. Reading all the digitised mistakes I just couldn’t help myself. He didn’t gain an honorary degree from the “Umversity of Odinburgh”. It was the University of Edinburgh. Anyway it’s fixed now.

This bit of crowdsourcing has been a huge success. read more…