Friday, July 25, 2008

Government 2.0 And Municipal Government

Paul Macmillan and myself just had a great meeting with a municipal CIO, whom in order to protect the innocent will remain anonymous for the purpose of this post. :-)

We had a chance to briefly discuss Deloitte's view on the value of government 2.0, as well as some considerations around government 2.0 adoption. Our CIO had some great comments around some of the challenges in embracing of a Web 2.0 philosophy within the context of a municipal government. I thought that I would share these challenges with interested readers out there.

  • Traditionally, municipal governments have a lot less IT budget than there provincial counterparts. When compared to provincial or federal, most municipal governments actually have an order of magnitude less IT staff per IT user. This is especially true for larger municipalities.
  • This has required most municipal IT organizations to place greater emphasis on consistency, stability, and operations. This approach allows for better operational efficiency, and allows the municipal IT organization to stretch their dollar.
  • Unfortunately, this also means a historical underinvestment in strategy, architecture, and it makes it much more difficult to innovate. There is very little money to support a heterogeneous environment.
  • There are serious concerns around simple basic infrastructure which makes the idea of accessible Web 2.0 collaborative service challenging. As an example, many recreational centers in major cities do not have any Internet access whatsoever.
  • Another concern has been raised around the need for cities that are multicultural and multilingual to support communities, collaborative environments, and other services in a fashion that is consumable by all of these varied citizens. Accessibility for all income levels and cultures is a priority.
  • Finally, because of the emphasis on operations within the municipal government there is a fear that "opening up the floodgates" using Web 2.0 technologies to collaboration with citizens could make it very difficult for council members and other government employees to effectively sort through all the comments and feedback that could be provided by concerned citizens.

These are all valid concerns, and while I do have answers to almost all of them, I thought I would leave that for another post. If anybody out there has their own answers, or have some more challenges to add to a docking Web 2.0 tools and culture within municipal government and would welcome any feedback.

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