Developing government's human voice

Government, unlike private sector companies, has not had a major review of its business processes and corporate culture. We are long overdue.

* Jennifer Leggio is on vacation

Guest editorial by Lovisa Williams

What is Gov 2.0? There has been much heated debate about this subject. We have spoken about Government as a Platform, Government 2.0 as a way to influence and change behavior and how Government should be bringing citizens closer to Government. There are a wide range of ideas which can be seen in the video interviews about “What is Gov 2.0 Mean to Me?”. We definitely do not agree on the definition and perhaps that is not a bad thing.

To add some additional thoughts to the discussion the bottom line is there is no App for Government. Government can function as a platform, but Government is not as simple as this. Although, it is a great way to sell products and services to the Government. Don’t get me wrong, some of the Apps that have been developed are interesting and perhaps even useful, but I really see them more as one of the outcomes and not what our goal should be.

The world is changing. How we work and how we think are changing because of advances in technology and the speed in which we send and receive information. Development of new tools and technology is happening all of the time, but a fundamental shift in how we think and how we work does not happen every day. It is occurring now whether we like it or not. If we choose to ignore this fundamental shift we run the risk of becoming obsolete organizations. This is not just a Government thing, this is an everyone thing! Government, unlike private sector companies, has not had a major review of its business processes and corporate culture. We are long overdue and now is the time to explore how we can modify, re-engineer and make government more useful to citizens.

This is not just about what government employees and government contractors can do, this is about how we as an entire community from all industries can contribute to re-engineer what Government is and how it functions. This is not just about the U.S. Government either, but how is it we can collaborate across governments in ways that will make us more effective. Although we may not agree on ideology of government, we all have to provide certain services to our citizens. Best practices and lessons learned including the “what didn’t work” should be shared globally. There are many things we can learn and leverage from each other.

How do we do this? I think we need to think about these shifts as an opportunity to redefine the relationship the government has with people. Success is not about data or apps. It’s about human beings and our relationships with each other. Our success or failure will be based on these relationships. People cannot have relationships with apps or a platform. These are great outcomes of what we are trying to achieve, but should never be confused with our primary goal of redefining who we are as a government and how we interact with others. We need to start answering some basic questions.

We start with focusing on what is the mission of government and its various agencies. How can we meet these missions in a better way? How can we leverage technology to engage people we may not have had access to in the past? How do we start redefining our relationships? How do we develop a more human face of government? What does this look like? Sound like? How can we use technology to streamline work and provide better, faster internal communications? The bottom line is we need to know what our goals are and then develop a roadmap to get there. The tools are here, but now is the time for us to focus on how to achieve these goals. Some great ideas for getting started can be found in here.

Are you are ready to take this conversation to the next level and develop the human voice of government? then I encourage you to consider attending some of the Government 2.0 events that are coming up. Check out the upcoming Gov 2.0 Camp in DC and how the people in the Los Angeles area envisioning Government 2.0. Now is the time to get involved and start talking about the relationship of government, its role and how we will develop this human voice. None of this can be achieved alone. We need each other. We cannot hope to achieve success alone.

Lovisa Williams is the Deputy Director for the International Information Programs (IIP) Bureau’s Office of Innovative Engagement (OIE). The mission of OIE is to create and implement Public Diplomacy strategies that use social media and traditional technologies engage the world in support of the President, the Secretary of State and key strategic policy objectives. This post is a reflection of personal opinion and does not reflect the opinions of the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Government or official policy.

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