I started working at Booz Allen in 2003 as an entry level strategic communications consultant. For three years, I worked on a variety of projects across the public sector, providing support in the areas of media relations, change management, stakeholder engagement â€“ pretty much anything involving internal or external communications. Then, in 2006, I discovered Intelink and Intellipedia. Thatâ€™s when I realized the potential of Government 2.0. Of course, we didnâ€™t call it that â€“ back then it was just an innovative use of some cool technology. But, I didnâ€™t just see wikis and blogs, I saw all of the IT security myths and information sharing excuses get thrown out the window. If the Intelligence Community was able to use blogs and wikis to share classified information across 16 different federal agencies, then these tools could certainly be used in other areas of the government. At that point, I decided that I was going to do whatever it took to bring the principles of openness, transparency, and sharing to my company and the rest of the government.
I started voraciously reading about how Intellipedia worked â€“ who was behind it, what technical features it had, what else was planned, who was using it, etc. I bought all kinds of social media books (Wikinomics, The World is Flat, Wikipatterns, The Long Tail are just some of them), I attended multiple conferences and other professional development events, and most importantly, I didnâ€™t shut up! I talked about social media to anyone who would listen, and even to those who didnâ€™t want to listen. I constantly looked for ways in which social media could enhance or replace existing processes (couldnâ€™t we just post this white paper to a wiki and edit it there instead of sending it around over email?), I volunteered to help write proposals, white papers, and any other document that I could get my hands on where I could talk about social media, and I sent dozens of social media media articles and success stories to my leadership and anyone else who I thought would be interested. In short, I really annoyed a bunch of people for a long time!
Right now, it seems like everyone is focusing on how to make government more transparent and authentic â€“ agencies are tripping over each other to get on Twitter and start their own blogs in an effort to become more accessible to the public. I think this is great and we definitely need to continue to push these efforts. However, I see even greater potential in shifting the focus of these efforts inward and using social media to communicate and collaborate within their own agency and with other agencies and departments. Many organizations are taking real steps to communicate with the public, but internally, their own employees have unable to easily share information with each other. And they have an even more difficult time communicating with people in other parts of the government. Thatâ€™s one reason that GovLoop has been so successful â€“ itâ€™s provided a platform for people from across the government to talk with each other and share information. The average government employee doesnâ€™t care about turf battles and playing â€œstay out of my sandboxâ€ â€“ they just want to do their job and do it as easily and effectively as possible. Using social media to break down these â€œcylinders of excellenceâ€ across the government is where I see the greatest benefit right now.
Like I said above, I think that something like GovLoop or Intelink has the greatest potential for transforming Government and making Government 2.0 a reality. Whether either one of those platforms evolves to become the â€œkiller appâ€ or another tool emerges over time, at some point, we will see a shift in the way government employees communicate and collaborate with each other. Once these cultural and administrative barriers are lowered and/or eliminated, the promise of Government 2.0 can begin to be realized.
I think the most exciting aspect of Government 2.0 is that everyone, from the SES level to webmasters to interns, now has the ability to affect real change. Social media has not only given every government employee and contractor a voice, itâ€™s brought innovation and entrepreneurship back to the government. I love being a part of a movement that represents a fundamental change in how our government works. I love that I can work on a project at DHS and if I run into a problem, I can send a tweet to another person over in the DoD who I know just dealt with a similar challenge and ask him/her for some help in how to solve my challenge and thatâ€™s not only ok, itâ€™s encouraged! The other really exciting part of Government 2.0 is that weâ€™re just at the beginning. The policies and processes still have to catch up to the technologies that are being developed and used. Weâ€™re just now starting to see many of the grassroots efforts gaining widespread adoption â€“ once the technology, the processes, and the policies are all working together, just imagine the possibilities of what we can accomplish.