Measuring Government 2.0

I got an email a few weeks back from a freelancer who wanted some information related to government 2.0, notably how do you measure it’s value, success or progress, i.e. show me the metrics.

His take, “all theory and fanfare” with no real substance.

I won’t deny that it’s pretty difficult to quantify Gov 2.0 given the nascent issues at hand but it’s important to note that as we start down this road towards a Government 2.0 transformation, the business case won’t initially be made with dollars and cents. Instead progress will be measured in the following manner (which is by no means exhaustive or exclusive): productivity and efficiency gains, new ideas and innovations, and finally recruiting and retention.

A) Productivity and Efficiency: If using a Wiki can, as Anthony’s previous posts noted, decrease the time employees spend emailing each other, do away with versioning issues and ultimately create a better and more collaborative output that enables better decisions then the case sells itself. In the end, it’s all about decision making – better and faster decision making. Not to mention that a system that enables a faster or more accurate response to an emergency such as that enabled by Virtual Alabama is likely to create significant savings, both in upfront deployment costs and the effectiveness of funds used.

B) New ideas and innovations: Ultimately, government serves citizens. The focus of any public sector transportation must thus attempt to provide better services, i.e. more effective, faster and easier to access, as well as creating policy and legislation that is more representative of the views, values and ideals of our constituents. That’s hard to measure in these early stages. But government transparency is central to the Gov 2.0 concept and projects like the UK’s ShowUsABetterWay highlight the potential such transparency has for improving processes and services. In just two weeks, the project garnered more than 250 new ideas on how to improve processes thanks to the publication of previously concealed data. Whether any get implemented is another issue but at a certain point we need to value an increase in the stock of those ideas, and there’s no doubt that opening up to the public and external experts is one surefire way to do so.

C) Recruiting and retention: Our research shows that the public sector is far from the top-choice of most university graduates. We surveyed over 10,000 youths in 12 countries and outside of Continental Europe, the public sector was dead last when respondants were asked to rank their employer of choice. A large part of the government 2.0 transformation is thus focused on reinventing the public sector workplace so that it does attract the best and brightest, and that when they arrive they have the tools, technologies and organizational cultures to make the impact they desire to. That ability to make an impact is key to Government 2.0. It’s about creating participative cultures that flatten organizational hierarchies and keep talent plugged in and motivated. Some of our partners are looking at replacing upwards of half of their entire workforces over the next 8-10 years. Unless they’re looking for investment bankers that won’t be easy to do. One of the key metrics for Gov 2.0 will be the ability to attract 1a candidates and more importantly the improvement, if any, of retention rates amongst those star employees.

Ultimately, companies and agencies that get it aren’t waiting for analyst reports noting how much they’ll save. Instead they see the value in the above three metrics as a means of creating more intuitive, proactive and predictive organizations.

Evidently there are challenges. Leadership and culture being key. None of these benefits will happen without the commitment of top agency/department decision-makers as this isn’t as much about technology as it is about people and culture. That will bring about the need for changes in incentives, compensation and performance management. Yes, all challenging to bring about. But if we truly believe that governments can do more with less then such changes need to be put into motion. It won’t be easy but the payoff portends a much more effective, innovative and ultimately competitive public service.

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