Gov 2.0 Hero: Nick Charney

Gov 2.0 Hero: Nick Charney

  • Renewal Wonk, aka “Mr. Engagement” of the Rat Pack of Canadian Public Service Renewal,
  • Blog · Twitter · Linkedin · Facebook

What was your path to Gov 2.0?

Let’s just say it’s been long, dual-tracked road.

Officially, I’ve been a federal public servant (in Canada) now for just over three years, during which time I’ve held 5 different positions, each of which has taken me a bit closer to Gov 2.0.

Unofficially, I started blogging about public service renewal about a year ago with Mike Mangulabnan. We originally set out to create a single stream of aggregated content, mostly mainstream media, which was relevant to public servants. We soon realized that we were providing links to content openly, but talking about it privately. After a discussion about direction, constraints and risks we agreed that we should start publishing our own content on a regular basis. Our first inclination was to craft a blog where we alternated postings between us; a kind of ongoing conversation between public servants about the public service. Things sort of naturally progressed to where I write the content and Mike provides (the invaluable) editorial advice.

Thus began our less official journey into Gov 2.0.

We set out to make public service renewal (an official top priority of the Clerk of the Privy Council) something that everyone could take ownership of with something as simple as a blog. Open and honest ownership over our business and responsibilities as public servants (what we affectionately call scheming virtuously) has been the core driver behind the blog ever since. To date, a variety of topics such as culture, training, career paths, the role of public service unions and, of course, new collaborative technologies and social media have been openly discussed on the blog.

I don’t want to excite you too much with the details my more official journey. Suffice it to say that my unofficial undertakings have exerted influence over my official duties to the point where they now exist at the confluence of new collaborative technologies, employee engagement, knowledge management, policy, communications and organizational management. Which to me, is freaking awesome.

What area of government offers the biggest opportunity for improvement via Web 2.0 tools?

My background is in conflict studies and organizational management, so it’s no surprise that the largest opportunity I see is better internal collaboration enabled by Web 2.0. For example, since the adoption of GCPEDIA (the Government of Canada’s official government-wide wiki) I have seen innovation through collaboration that would have been otherwise unattainable, and we are only at the tip of the iceberg.

What’s the killer app that will make Gov 2.0 the norm instead of the exception?

Gov 2.0 is neither a suite of applications that allows citizens to interact with their government, nor is it a tool that facilitates better collaboration between public servants. So don’t take me the wrong way when I say that I really couldn’t care less about the application itself. What I want is the ethos behind the tools to become the norm within government. If we already had that type of culture, we wouldn’t even be talking about the tools, because their value to enhance what we already do would be apparent. Instead we are stuck trying to not only introduce and champion the tools, but to also revolutionize the way we go about our work.

What part of Gov 2.0 most excites you?

By far it has to be connecting with other public servants around common issues regardless of tenure, professional classification or position within the hierarchy. When I first started in the public service it was hard to connect with these people (especially when they were outside of your department) because of bureaucratic imperatives built right into the culture, but as the ethos of open collaboration takes root, finding them will only get easier.

About Luke Fretwell

Luke Fretwell is the founder of GovFresh, co-founder/CEO of ProudCity and co-host of the podcast, The Government We Need. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or email at

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