Web 2.0 technologies have matured to the point that the concept of e-government is moving toward an "e-governance" model, according to a recently published white paper from technology consultancy Accenture. In other words, e-governance includes citizens who are engaged electronically.

What does widespread usage of social media like YouTube and social networks like Facebook mean for governments and their constituents?

"These new technologies are enabling governments that are progressive and thinking strategically to really fundamentally alter and strengthen their relationships with citizens," Greg Parston, the director of Accenture's Institute for Public Service Value, told Government Technology. "It's not a relationship that's merely about the voting booth or the bus ride anymore. It's an ongoing, informative and interactive relationship, which is empowering citizens and allowing government to learn and educate as it has never done before."

The paper, called Web 2.0 Collaboration Tools for the Next Generation of Public Service, is available for free download from the institute.

Parston said that after more than three years of research as well as discussion groups conducted in 13 cities around the world, Accenture's team of researchers had identified four commonalities that citizens want from their government: outcomes, balance, engagement and transparency.

"What we [found] is that citizens everywhere want government to focus on outcomes, and not merely on the transactions. They want common good, but they also want choice -- what we call 'balance.' They want to be engaged, but they don't to just be talked to -- they want to be educated and enrolled as what we call co-producers, through neighborhood watch schemes or school mentoring. And citizens want clear accountability and transparency," Parston said.

Parston said he spoke last week with federal CIO Vivek Kundra, and he left impressed that Kundra was enacting those four pillars in the federal government -- even though their nomenclature wasn't exactly the same.

"There's a very strong emphasis on outcomes in the way in which they're putting together the new agency reporting system emanating from the White House but soon to be promulgated across all agencies," Parston said. "There's a very clear sense of transparency and accountability -- you can see that in Recovery.gov and all the things that are coming out of the [American Recovery and Reinvestment Act]. There's clear engagement -- you can see that in the way in which the White House is using its own site to get people involved in policy blogs and discussion around what's happening in health reform."

 

Matt Williams  |  Associate Editor