Government as a dialogue: Will the Gov 2.0 Summit contribute?

I hope the decision makers in Government 2.0 come out to hear our successes and this is not another echo chamber.
Written by Jennifer Leggio, Contributor

Guest editorial by Andrea Baker

A fall breeze has come to Washington DC in the form of the Government 2.0 Summit. This week in Washington on Sept. 9 and 10 O'Reilly Conferences and TechWeb bring to our mostly political town to talk shop with the whose who of Goverati. The Summit is about Government as a Platform, according to the man behind the conference, Tim O'Reilly.

I feared at first this conference might be too vague in thought. As I looked at the conference being planned and the names announced presenting, many Web 2.0 thought leaders are talking, but few actual inside Government change agents -- going into today it feels more balanced. The Government 2.0 Expo seemed to feature those types mostly, but the marquis event--the summit billed towards decision makers in government screams more "Industry Tell Us What To Do"! I do not doubt this line up is stellar, but are the efforts of our own being out-shadowed by the cool and the hip? I hope I am wrong.

I hope the decision makers in Government 2.0 come out to hear our successes and this is not another echo chamber. For those of us breathing and living Government 2.0 have seen many of these names representing government before. I am optimistic there will be those open to the message O'Reilly is bringing to us over this week. I know one of my government customers will be attending, but he is not the typical government leader. He gets innovation and has been an exemplar for others. The ideal attendee is one that has heard these buzzwords and has a strategic plan to collaborate and transform their organization to a more open one, but is just starting to implement the plan.

We aren't immediately considered innovative in DC in tech or new ideas, but we are very much a buzz every night of the week. In fact, while I am attending the summit with great hope for new ideas and momentum. I am also fraught with skepticism on how experts in Web 2.0, whom I can hear at the Web 2.0 events are going to impact what is already happening in the Gov 2.0 world.

DC: A tech center -->

There are those that believe DC could be another technical mecca, but I argue we have long been a technical and innovative center. We have many technical merits and the results of hard work thought leaders in and around the Beltway, that are the models of Government 2.0. The Beltway includes some of most creative enterprises in advancing technologies with Agencies like the CIA, EPA, NASA Goddard, and the TSA. Go around the corner from NOAA, you have the Discovery Channel. Some of the most innovative and cross-government programming you would never realize. Deadliest Catch is compelling programming, but it is highlighting our sustainable fishing industry, which NOAA Fisheries and the Department of Congress oversee. I could list out many more examples, but I recommend you check out the showcases from the Expo.

Government 2.0 doesn't belong just to Washington DC, but it seems like a fitting place for such a movement to be centered. Earlier this year, a self-organized BarCamp atmosphere settled upon us with Government 2.0 Camp bringing citizens of the world together with Policy Makers in order to shed light on new processes and language to be spoken freely without the fear of retribution.

No one told us we needed to have a BarCamp. We just did it. The front lines of Government 2.0 are lined with those willing to take the bullets of bureaucracy from years of "This is how its always been done" to cutting the red tape with approaches in Social Media and Enterprise 2.0, inside and outside of the firewall. And no one told us we needed to have an external facing community, where all parts of Government can converge in robust conversation in the form of GovLoop, now over 17,600 members strong and growing everyday. Members have volunteered to add information as in featuring a member and project of the week. If you want visibility for your project, all you need to do is let a voice be heard.

It seems some do see, even if they do not know it that Government 2.0 is about Enterprise 2.0 methodologies and tools. Yes, I will agree it is that, but it is so much more. I believe Government 2.0 is about bringing the citizen closer to its Government by not only democratizing the data, but opening up a dialogue that can better sense the sentiment of constituents than a Gallop poll. That is what I hope I have this week of Government 2.0, a dialogue with those that can make a difference.

Andrea Baker is the Director of Enterprise 2.0 for Navstar, Inc, under which she is a consultant for the Federal Government and private industry. You can read her other writings on Enterprise 2.0 and the user-generated web on her personal website. Andrea is also the Executive Vice President and Programming Director of Social Media Club - DC.

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