The Rise of Gov 2.0-From GovLoop to the White House: An Open, Accelerated Flow of Information Is Fostering Greater Collaboration and Improving Performance across All Levels of Government

Article excerpt

A revolution is happening in government as the result of a new generation of government employees, the rise of Web 2.0 technologies, and the Obama Administration's focus on transparency, participation, and collaboration. Often called Gov 2.0, this next generation of government workers is marked by the principles of openness, transparency, and collaboration, as well as the idea that the voices of the many are smarter than the voice of one.

While this movement has been brewing for some time, Gov 2.0 swept the United States and Washington, D.C., in late 2008. Excitement about the government's use of Web 2.0 technology began when agencies saw how the Obama campaign used Web 2.0 technologies--such as the social network my Barack Obama, Facebook, and Twitter--to bring together a community of millions of citizens toward a common goal. This excitement continued during the presidential transition period, when the various transition teams continued to use new media from YouTube videos and the Google Moderator Open for Questions sessions to a modern website.


Presidential Leadership

Use of Web 2.0 technologies continued as President Obama moved into his new role. One of President Obama's first acts in office was to issue a directive calling for a more transparent, collaborative, and participatory government. Leaders from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) solicited input to the memo from all federal employees through the OMB MAX wiki.

The first White House New Media team, headed by Macon Phillips from the Obama campaign team with help from government insiders such as Bev Godwin, has been working through new challenges based on rules created decades ago. The team has already launched the "Ask the President" contest, which received hundreds of thousands of suggestions from citizens. Additionally, new media directors are being put in place at major cabinet agencies.

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has led a number of initiatives in the space. They have worked with Web 2.0 providers, such asYouTube, Face-book, and MySpace, to sign Terms of Service agreements allowing federal agencies to use these new tools. The Federal Web Manager Committee has formed the Social Media Subcouncil, co-chaired by Jeff Levy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Joyce Bounds of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), to focus on sharing lessons learned via their blog, wiki, and webinars with Web 2.0 companies, including Facebook, YouTube, and O'Reilly Media.

Government agencies also have begun using social media tools for various events. For both the recent recall on peanut butter and the H1N1 virus, agencies such as HHS, CDC, and DHS used Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and widgets to ensure that government information reached the citizens where they interacted. There are many others examples including Hilary Clinton's Digital Townhall of the Americas.

Grassroots Involvement

At the grassroots level, a group of knowledgeable insiders is forming, connecting, and spreading information across social networks, such as GovLoop and Twitter. The Government 2.0 Club, modeled after the popular Social Media Club, was launched in March 2009 and provides a further mechanism for branding events and sharing wisdom. They recently held the first Gov 2.0 Barcamp, where more than 500 members of the government community met and shared ideas on making Gov 2.0 happen. And nonprofit organizations, such as The Sunlight Foundation, are developing applications and hosting events in an effort to make government more transparent and ultimately more accountable to the public.

Silicon Valley has started paying attention to the trend and are moving into Washington, D.C. Tim O'Reilly (founder of O'Reilly Media and creator of the term Web 2.0) recently launched the Gov 2.0 Summit and has shifted focus on the importance of open government through a "government as platform" idea. …