World – Tweet while you work, urges Australian govt
SYDNEY: Blog, tweet, update Facebook – that’s the message the Australian government is sending its bureaucrats as part of a push to break down
barriers between public servants and ordinary people.
Instead of seeing the social networking tools as time-wasting diversions, a government-commissioned draft report on new media wants them used to discuss ideas and gather feedback.
The report says public agencies should engage “more energetically” with Web 2.0 applications, examples of which include Facebook, the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia and video-sharing site YouTube.
“Online engagement by public servants should be enabled and encouraged,” it says. “Robust professional discussion benefits their agencies, their professional development, and the Australian public.”
The report said interactive media provided “unprecedented opportunities to open up government decision-making to the community”.
But it acknowledged the greatest impediment to its broader use was the culture of government, which can tend towards secrecy and which was protective of the copyright on policy.
“Access to work tools like web-based email, collaborative work spaces and instant messaging create powerful new possibilities for collaboration particularly where collaborators are physically apart,” it said.
“Likewise Twitter, Facebook and blogs provide access to professional information and conversation.
“Yet not enough public servants have work access to these building blocks of Government 2.0.”
Indeed, none of the public servants on the taskforce preparing the ‘Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0’ report had access to instant messaging despite the fact that it was an important tool for other taskforce members, it said.
The report also noted that one public servant responded to a call for colleagues to engage in robust work discussion online with: “Ha — we can’t get to FaceBook, YouTube, Flickr, or most common discussion forums where I work.”
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