While SCVA is a corporate valuation and management method, its principals equally apply to government, health care, education and beyond. All of our traditional institutions are being re-architected around broadband empowered individuals.
Last week I hosted a discussion about how to advocate for the adoption of more productive government that utilizes the full potential of the internet at GovCamp Toronto. Thank you to Julia Stowell, Omar Rashid and Mark Kuznicki for inviting about 125 of us across the community to come together.
The Value Proposition for Gov 2.0: Outsourcing Risk
Governments are risk averse . Traditionally there has been very little upside potential for those involved in public service to attack something out of the ordinary. Change is methodical, reactionary – made by attrition. This is the world of late adoptors.
This is a difficult mode for coping with the complex problems of our times and rapid change required to embrace Gov 2.0 (if we would would like to, for example, take advantage of moments of change to maintain or improve Canada’s position in the world).
Perhaps there is an appeal in the prospect of open data?
Governments are the custodians and regulators and third parties are the innovators and risk takers. Whatever works governments can follow and the essential experiments that turn out to be learning experiences will be played out with the investment of third parties, not tax payers.
Are any of these assumptions true? What is the right language to frame these dynamics in terms acceptable to everyone involved?
The session was an opportunity to continue the conversation along these lines that have evolved as a consistent theme for me since the first ChangeCamp.
I had great exchanges with about a dozen different open gov enthusiasts from across government. I feel comfortable in reporting that yes, this notion that embracing Gov 2.0 as a risk averse strategy, has the potential to resonate within bureaucratic and political circles. It could be part of messaging that will appeal to late adopters and perhaps get those first trials off of the ground.
What’s next? Was the question that we bounced around the room to wrap up the three hour unconference.
Here are the additional thoughts that emerged at our table:
1. “We have a full plate.” or “We just do not have resources to try that.” These are likely the number one kind of objection that you will hear across departments. Listen carefully.
Gov 2.0 offers the promise of solutions that share and scale. Most often, Gov 2.0 is not about adding new lines of service, it is about doing the same things in different, more productive ways. In most cases, it would be a waste of resources to roll out another year of doing the same old thing without looking for ways to incorporate the internet into routines.
What you may be hearing is code for, “We don’t know how.”, “That sounds risky.”, “We don’t get rewarded for taking on things that are new.”.
2. In his opening comments David Eaves pointed out, there is a long history and many cases where governments have committed to a policy of transparency and/or public reporting in Canada. Perhaps the #govcamp community can make an effort to examine the decisions that were made to release data and become more transparent in the past, note the reasons why and look for opportunities to apply that rationale to convince governments to apply it in new areas.
3. Tabling an ill considered RFP can be a public relations disaster for government. Opening up the development of the RFP can help reduce this risk and lead to more progressive ideas being incorporated into governments’ competitive processes.
4. A few times our discussion came back to the need for boiler plate policy and guidelines that can be adopted across government. We talked about why it is unlikely that anything like Obama’s Memorandum on Transparency will materialize in Canada in the immediate future and there was some enthusiasm that the #govcamp community could lead the development of expectations through the creation of open source guidelines, similar to the resources developed in corporate American by the Social Media Business Council.