2020 Summit fails Australia on connectedness

My friend, Stilgherrian, has posted a scathing analysis of the final report of the 2020 Summit. He’s particularly disappointed with the Summit’s failure to address and take advantage of the power of the Internet to build connections between disparate communities and between the government and its constituency.

I couldn’t agree more.

My views on the ongoing failure of government at all levels in Australia to really engage online are public and published here. That said, the 2020 Summit was a real opportunity for the Rudd government to take positive steps in the way it connects people with service providers, policy-linked activity and each other. But, yet again, it looks like failure on a grand and blinkered scale.

I am deeply disappointed, but really not at all surprised. Once again the no idea, safe option has been taken without a gutsy leap forward.

Australian politicians and policy-makers really have no idea about how to use the Internet. Largely, they are stuck in 1995 and interested only in broadcast messages and policy brochureware.

They are certainly nowhere near what the Kiwis and Brits (amongst a lot of other online constituent-linked activity, No 10 has a Twitter account and uses it to talk with people!) are doing and light years from where someone like Texas Republican Representative, John Culberson is, using Twitter, podcasting, blogging and more to, as he says, put “We the People in every room in Washington”.

That’s not to say that things couldn’t be different here. They could. I personally know a significant number of smart people, working on the ground in Federal Government departments who get the power of the Internet and could facilitate powerful communication and connection efforts between their organisations and their constituencies if only they were allowed to…

6 Replies to “2020 Summit fails Australia on connectedness”

  1. My own view is that change doesn’t happen because those that want to make changes aren’t in a position to approve changes. In turn, they become increasingly frustrated and disenchanted before finally either giving up or quitting the APS to do their own thing.

    I can only speak from my own experience, but I feel it is going to take a substantial and devastating generational change in the SES before things improve. Even then, I’m not convinced that there is a positive correlation between those that get the power of the internet and those who are more likely to work their way up through the system.

    I would desperately love to hear from people whose experience contradicts my own. It would give me more hope for the future.

  2. I don’t know what, if anything, will come from the 2020 summit, but I totally agree with your closing remark that smart people on the ground are not being allowed to inteligently manage this technology.
    Having said that I am quite sure that change is happening. It’s just happening at public service pace. Generational change in the SES is also happening, but it’s happening one person at a time. There are some pretty switched on SES ofiicers out there.

  3. Glenn, I completely agree. There are some very smart (younger and older) SES out there. I happen to know several and some are even among my professional friends. Trouble is, often their talent gets recognised and they get poached to private enterprise.

    I guess am frustrated by seeing colleagues in the US, UK and NZ race ahead of Australia, despite those colleagues themselves feeling frustrated by their perception of slow progress.

    I would like to see some intestinal fortitude on the part of senior members of the APS. Have them try to implement a successful, clever program involving connectedness to their constituency and see just how successful it can be.

    It wouldn’t take much for small programs to start a wave…

  4. There are some very smart (younger and older) SES out there. I happen to know several and some are even among my professional friends.

    Quite clearly I haven’t been working in the right Departments. This makes me a little sad as possibly so much of my frustration of the last 7 years is simply because I haven’t been where I needed to be.


    Too late now I suppose, given I check out at the end of the year.

  5. I can understand the sense of frustration that comes with waiting for government to move on what seems an obvious win but I think it would be remiss not to look at how many of the changes in the UK have occured.

    Whilst there is a renewed sense of determination by the UK govt to increase its’ rate of online interaction, much of this has been led by a small (but growing) community of people determined to enable better e-gov services.

    I’ve been looking at case studies across Europe and can see similar patterns. I think Estonia looks like one of the only EU countries where this hasn’t been the case – but even there the government relies on a dedicated network of individuals to support its e-gov activities.

    As Stephen says – it may just take a small push in the right direction: http://www.showusabetterway.co.uk/

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