Will e-government be replaced by Gov 2.0? This is the prediction made by market research firm Government Insights, (GI) an IDC company. E-government was all about putting citizen services on the Web. Gov 2.0 is about assessing, sharing and interacting with information to create new opportunities and to allow agencies to deliver more holistic services to citizens, according to a June 12 Webinar conducted by Government Insights.

Will this prediction become a trend? Hard to say right now. But evidence of a Gov 2.0 world is beginning to emerge around the globe, Government Insights points out. Early adopters include:

  • The federal government with its consolidated portal, and Govgab, the topical blog posted by the General Services Administration.
  • At the state level, 27 states are active with Web 2.0, according to GI, with Virginia's use rated as "best in class" and Utah as the most active user.
  • The Canadian government is using Second Life for recruiting purposes (so is Missouri's Office of Information Technology).
  • Thailand, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand are using blogs, officially and unofficially. In Malaysia, blogging changed the outcome of a recent election; in New Zealand, bloggers comment on digital strategies.
  • In the United Kingdom, social networks have sprung up as a way to goad local governments to fix problems. For example, one site called "Fix My Street" lets citizens post digital photos of streets that need repair.

But does all this emerging activity mean government is ready for a Web 2.0 future? Some challenges stand in the way, according to GI. First, many governments face challenges trying to integrate the new technologies of Web 2.0 with existing technologies. Older government workers, of which there are huge numbers in the public sector, are resisting adoption of Web 2.0, while younger workers are clamoring for them.

In countries that are bilingual (e.g., Canada), questions arise as to what language government workers should be blogging in. Participation rates in blogs and wikis tend to be extremely low, raising questions about the views represented. Other concerns raised include the transparency of wikis and blogs, their impact on decision-making, the expectations they raise, and so on.

The bottom line: The collaborative exchange of information holds tremendous value for government. But Web 2.0 represents a change in how things are done, something government has always struggled to embrace.

Tod Newcombe, Editor  |  Editor, Public CIO