Over the last few weeks, I had an opportunity to speak with some of our nation’s finest, both domestic and abroad. On December 3, I spoke to the members of the All Services Social Media Council and then on December 9, I spoke at the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) Public Affairs Conference. From D.C. to Germany, these members of our military never failed to impress me with their dedication to their mission and their love of their country.
Not surprisingly, they also held a common interest in social media – what it means to them, what it means to their organizations, and how (and if) they might be able to use these tools. Everyone was looking for some sort of guidance that would answer these questions. Should they create a Facebook page? Should their Twitter page be a personal account or an organizational account? What blogging platform should they use and how often should they blog?
Coincidentally, the new Open Government Directive, thought by many to be THE document that will answer some of these questions and provide government agencies with the direction they’re craving, was released last week. The Department of Defense is supposed to be releasing their social media policy in the next month or so. Other agencies are following suit and issuing their own policies and guidelines.
However, these documents, no matter how many deadlines, milestones, and tactics are included in them, aren’t going to provide a manual for achieving the vision of Government 2.0. Open government isn’t something that’s going to be accomplished via a laundry list of actions that can be checkmarked away. There isn’t going to be a point when your organization flips the final switch and says, “Ta-da!! Now we’re Government 2.0!!”
Sorry – it’s just not that simple. Despite the benefits the Open Government Directive will bring, it’s just a start. Government 2.0 isn’t going to happen because you’ve gone through and checked all the boxes from the Open Government Directive. You can make your datasets available. You can publish all the open government plans you want. You can establish working group upon working group. All of those tactics are great first steps, but think longer term. Think beyond the 120 day deadline in the Open Government Directive and try to imagine what your agency looks like in this new world of open government.
How will you instill this culture of collaboration, transparency, and participation internally, among your employees so that this is standard operating procedure? Will openness and transparency be encouraged in new hire training? Will there be some sort of punishment for those who continue to hoard information and close it off? Will employees be rewarded for being more transparent?
Achieving Government 2.0 is going to require some serious change management that goes beyond any one Directive and hits at the heart of the organization’s people, processes, and technology. This is going to be an ongoing process change and we’re still at the start of it.