October 6, 2010 By Matt Williams
The definition of “Gov 2.0” has been debated often the past few years. Gartner analyst Andrea DiMaio has called Government 2.0 “the use of IT to socialize and commoditize government services, processes and data.” That’s just one interpretation among many others, but at the core, Gov 2.0 is all about governments using social media, social networks, videos and blogs, and Web transactions to serve and connect with citizens.
But apparently what Gov 2.0 involves isn’t always known or agreed upon — or even embraced. In fact, a recent survey from Hewlett-Packard found that nearly one-quarter of government IT professionals still don’t know what Gov 2.0 entails, despite the fact that 80 percent of them believe their agency will enact a comprehensive strategy for Gov 2.0 sometime within the next two years — and nearly one in 10 agencies already have a program.
Furthermore, only 52 percent of respondents said their public-sector organization is embracing Gov 2.0.
Why are some IT professionals and their workplaces not on board? One possibility is that even though the concept of Gov 2.0 had been around a while, it remains in its infancy and is presenting governments with many new ways of communicating with one another and their constituents, said Christina Morrison, public-sector marketing manager for Hewlett-Packard. That means the public sector is still figuring out how best to maximize these social tools. “I think a lot of people are still waiting for their manager to step up and take the lead,” she said.
Three in 10 respondents said the best way to encourage Gov 2.0 in their organization is by management taking the lead. Another 26 percent said it would be to increase spending on technology. (Only 6 percent said there was no money available for Gov 2.0.)
But for most government, funding has remained flat. Morrison said many agencies’ Gov 2.0 programs remain unfunded or underfunded. Although there’s a perception that using social media comes at no cost, Morrison said organizations have to invest in it — with personnel and intra-agency coordination — in order to make the effort effective.
The September survey from HP interviewed about 100 government IT professionals, three-quarters of whom work for state or local government, about their viewpoints and knowledge on social media usage in the public sector.
A third of respondents said they believe the biggest benefit of Gov 2.0 is that it would improve services to the public, while 20 percent said the greatest benefit said it would improve citizens’ participation in government. Nearly two-thirds said they believe Gov 2.0 would improve their agency.
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