In our conversation with the folks in Vancouver we spent some time discussing how to measure the value of Gov 2.0. This is a question we must be able to answer; even more so with critical govt services being slashed. With so many govt organizations using tools such as Twitter and Facebook we can expect growing criticism. Folks like Mark Headd have also asked this question so we decided to look at a few efforts and see how their approach might fit with ours:
- Vivek Kundra quantifies value in dollars
- Gavin Newsom notes the cost-savings of using Twitter (free) for 311 vs a SMS provider ($100K)
- Edwin Bender, executive director of followthemoney.org, in a conversation sites legislative change through the use of their data in two Supreme Court cases
- MAPLight.org (money/vote connection) highlights the use of their data in media to help promote accountability
Vivek’s approach is direct and simple and works well in a political environment. Of course people will and should question the actual value (yes it may have taken x number of hours to build but does anyone use it?). Newsom uses the same technique to highlight costs savings. The last two examples are very meaningful but less direct. It’s challenging to demonstrate the softer areas of ROI like accountability to our stakeholders. With this in mind we’re considering the following:
Valuation of each app that is built. The concept is similar to the badges you see on FOSS apps that estimate the overall cost of a project by lines of code and number of developers.
- Measuring service delivery performance before and after Gov 2.0 change. For example, 311 service request closure rate when photos are present.
- Citizen feedback through general opinion surveys on transparency.
- Showcasing solutions from Gov 2.0 efforts. For example, a dev camp that produces a working prototype. Or adoption of an idea from citizen brainstorming platforms. While this is not directly measurable, it can demonstrate the potential innovation of Gov 2.0.
While measurable performance is critical, linking value back to larger concepts of transparency, accountability and efficiency will be important as well.