Government 2.0 down under — the Australia Gov 2.0 Task Force

Often, it is so easy to forget that the U.S. government is not alone. I often think the “ahead” or “behind” distinctions are fairly superfluous — different organizations are in different places in their evolutions — regardless, there is often lessons that can be learned from state and local governments, but also from how other countries are looking at issues. That is particularly true with government 2.0. And the great thing about government 2.0: The work is largely done online, making it accessible, and initiatives can be seen around the world.

There are two that have just had significant milestones in recent days: Australia and Great Britain.

In Australia, just days ago, Lindsay Tanner [Wikipedia item], the country’s minister for finance and deregulation, announced the Australian Government 2.0 Task Force.

Information technologies are transforming the way that governments do business all around the world, they are opening up new possibilities for governments to improve transparency, accountability and efficiency of government. In particular web 2.0 technologies are delivering new opportunities that governments in many countries are just starting to exploit and its really crucial that in Australia we up there amongst the leading countries, making use of these new opportunities.

There are two particular themes that I and the government are keen to pursue. The first is transparency, using these technologies to maximise the extent to which government information, data, and material can be put out into the public domain that we can be as accountable as possible, as transparent as possible and that this data is available for use in the general community.

And secondly to improve the ways in which we engage with people in the wider community; in consultation, in discussion, in dialogue, about regulation, about government decisions, about policy generally. These are just two of the key themes that we are very keen pursue to maximise the opportunities we can get from these technologies to improve the way we govern.

In order to pursue that the Government have established a taskforce chaired by Dr Nicholas Gruen who is a very well know blogger, economics consultant, head of Lateral Economics and one of the key thinkers on regulation and technology in Australia today. Thetaskforce during the balance of this year, with representation from both public and private sectors, is going to explore all of the avenues, all the possibilities for reform that the Government should be pursuing in order to maximise these opportunities, in order to ensure that we can both maximise use of government information, transparency, and better engagement between the government and the wider community.

Read more… or read his comments to Parliament here.

More about the task force here.

Essentially, the tasks laid out by the end of the year:

The Government 2.0 Taskforce will advise and assist the Government to:

  • make government information more accessible and usable — to establish a pro-disclosure culture around non-sensitive public sector information;
  • make government more consultative, participatory and transparent — to maximise the extent to which government utilises the views, knowledge and resources of the general community;
  • build a culture of online innovation within Government — to ensure that government is receptive to the possibilities created by new collaborative technologies and uses them to advance its ambition to continually improve the way it operates;
  • promote collaboration across agencies with respect to online and information initiatives — to ensure that efficiencies, innovations, knowledge and enthusiasm are shared on a platform of open standards; and
  • identify and/or trial initiatives that may achieve or demonstrate how to accomplish the above objectives.

The Taskforce will advise Government on structural barriers that prevent, and policies to promote, greater information disclosure, digital innovation and online engagement including the division of responsibilities for, and overall coordination of, these issues within government.

The Taskforce will work with the public, private, cultural and not for profit sectors to fund and develop seed projects that demonstrate the potential of proactive information disclosure and digital engagement for government. More information can be found on the Taskforce’s Project Fund page.

In particular the Taskforce will also identify policies and frameworks to assist the Information Commissioner and other agencies in:

  • developing and managing a whole of government information publication scheme to encourage greater disclosure of public sector information;
  • extending opportunities for the reuse of government information, and considering the terms of that use, to maximize the beneficial flow of that information and facilitate productive applications of government information to the greatest possible extent;
  • encouraging effective online innovation, consultation and engagement by government, including by drawing on the lessons of the Government’s online consultation trials and any initiatives undertaken by the Taskforce.

The Taskforce will meet regularly, consulting in an open and transparent manner and use online solutions for its engagement wherever possible.

The Taskforce will provide a final report on its activities to the Minister for Finance and Deregulation and the Cabinet Secretary by the end of 2009. TheTaskforce will disband on completion of its final report.

The first task is to develop a Web site — and they have put that out to the public.

The UK’s Digital Britain Forum: The UK initiative is less government specific. Back in February, we told you about Britain’s Power of Information Task Force, which was looking at government 2.0 issues. Earlier this week, the Digital Britain Forum published it’s final report. Read the full report here.

The Digital Britain Forum was launched last October by UK Minister for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting Stephen Carter “with the aim of securing the UK’s place at the forefront of innovation, investment and quality in the digital and communications industries. The Digital Britain Steering Board draws on expertise inside and outside Government and regulators,” according to the group.

Again, you can read the full report at


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