Gov 2.0, News

Where do we go from here?

I just returned from the Gov 2.0 summit and I’m ready to take action! So where do I go from here? The time is now. There are tools available that can dramatically shift how government interacts amongst itself  and with the public and tools that can support increased public productivity.

So why aren’t we all working on it now? That brings up a common theme I heard throughout the summit, culture change is hard, and especially hard for the government. Casey Coleman, CIO of the Fed’s General Services Agency, made a point that if you can create something that is so enticing, it would be hard to not find useful, then you can almost ensure that people will be willing to change. She is applying that theory to hosting low level (low security risk) web applications in a public cloud. With the cloud available it would be silly for units/ departments not to host their applications in the cloud and realize the flexibility and scalability at their fingertips, not to point out the cost savings.

While sitting in the audience I realized that the groups of people in government that need to participate in these discussions are not solely the technologist, it needs to be the health care directors, education commissioners and teachers, parents and community members. The technology is here, we simply need willing participants to take a chance on something new and not be too discouraged if the first few tries fail.

I have worked in government for most of my career and I can say that failing in government is not taken lightly, and that needs to change. By enabling (or even allowing) agile and flexible development and deployment failing isn’t as devastating as it used to be and the lessons learned can quickly be applied to the next attempt. So I think for gov 2.0 to be successful in any local government we have to build a foundation for agile and flexible development, embrace trial and error, and continue to find early adopters and thought leaders to support us.

I am committed to making change at the local level and I believe that gov 2.0 is happening at the federal level and can as easily happen for us.

Here’s a list of the speakers that made the greatest impression on me:

Brian Kirschner – spoke about using technology to make people more productive. He used home gardens as an example of how people will use and adopt what they can to be more productive in times of need.

Carl Malamud – Pleaded with us to make legal records free. Pacer charges $0.08 cents a page for legal documents which creates a barrier to entry for most people and non profits.

Casey Coleman – mentioned her above.

Tim O’Reilly – threw the event and is on to something with government as platform.

Clay Johnson – talked about the work with DC 311 and Apps for America

Vinton Cerf – Amazing! if he could do it over again… he’d deal with authentication 🙂

Carlos Castillo – This army guy improvised in the field and created an application that they use today called COIN. This is gov 2.0, improvision and sustainability.

Michele Weslander Quaid – She said don’t take “no” from people who aren’t able to give you a “yes.” Her points on how to implement change were spot on and I was very inspired by her and the work she’s done.

Julius Genachowski – He asked all the innovators and entrepreneur to take up civil service as their next endeavor. I think that more thought leaders in government can really make a difference.

– Alissa Black


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