- Strategic Communications Consultant, Deloitte
- Founder, GovTwit
- Connect: Twitter · GovLoop · Gov 2.0 Radio · LinkedIn
- GovTwit: Website · Blog · Twitter · Facebook · FriendFeed · YouTube
What was your path to Gov 2.0?
I’m a communications guy by trade, working in media relations and strategic communications for nearly two decades. Over the last 10 years or so I’ve worked in and around the public sector for organizations like Sprint, BearingPoint and now with Deloitte. Around 24 months ago, it became obvious to me that new technologies and tools were fundamentally changing the way communicators worked — the way reporters interacted with sources, the way organizations disseminated information, the way citizens expected to interact with their government. While I was familiar with eGov initiatives and the web 1.0 services that federal, state and local governments were providing (ordering birth certificates or publishing reports on line and such), it was less apparent to me how new channels like Twitter, YouTube, FaceBook, MySpace and the like could be applied to the public sector. After all, these were “social” tools and seemed more fitting for lighter discussions and interactions, or maybe more relevant for the technology sector, not the business of government.
But as I started experimenting with the tools myself I was shocked to find many government clients, prospects, reporters and more all using tools like Twitter and GovLoop to start meaningful conversations, share relevant information and connect in ways that email and other tools had simply not allowed. As an info junkie, Twitter became an extremely powerful channel for me personally, especially when paired with tools like Tweetdeck or other search sites to find/funnel relevant information. But as enamored as I was with Twitter, 12 months ago it was hard to ferret out who was talking about the business of government or which agencies and individuals to connect with. That’s why I started GovTwit, because I wanted to provide what appeared to be a rapidly-growing community with a one-stop-shop to find others from government using this tool to share information, form relationships and communicate.
What area of government offers the biggest opportunity for improvement via Web 2.0 tools?
I think the citizen interaction piece is still largely untapped to date. Many agencies at both federal and state levels have launched programs that use channels like Facebook, Twitter and the like to push information out to where citizens are now “gathering” online. This is fantastic, especially so if you have a mission that partly centers around dissemination of critical information quickly — like the CDC dealing with H1N1. But there have been far fewer instances of government directly soliciting input and having back and forth conversations with citizens about issues that matter to them. There are, of course, many reasons for this, including how do you staff such a model, how do you comply with privacy issues or other regulatory requirements as you interact in a more direct, one-to-one manner, etc. But those are surmountable challenges and tools allowing a way to recreate the town hall experience where everyone gets a voice is an incredibly powerful concept.
What’s the killer app that will make Gov 2.0 the norm instead of the exception?
I don’t think there’s one killer application or tool that will make Gov 2.0 the norm, and I actually don’t think it’s about apps at all. To a much larger extent it’s about embracing a change in culture and a change in processes to look at new ways to accomplish goals. If you approach Gov 2.0 as “I need a Twitter feed” or “I need to blog” you’ve already failed. You first need to focus on your mission objectives, then work from that to determine the right tools to help you meet that mission. Gov 2.0 isn’t something that the PAO/PIO shop should own or something that only recruiting works with. You could use it for internal process improvement like TSA’s Idea Factory, or use it to solicit cross-agency feedback on government-wide issues like BetterBuyProject.com. It’s about *your* mission and how new tools, technologies and applications can help you meet your goals.
What part of Gov 2.0 most excites you?
I think its the promise of what government could like like 10 years from now as the use of these tools and technologies become more prevalent. As collaboration increases, as knowledge-sharing grows, as best-practices break free from whatever stove-pipe they were previously trapped within, there’s opportunity for a much more rapid pace of change to take place for the betterment of all.