It’s high time for a CitizenVision 2.0

Electronic Government is no longer an appropriate framework for innovation in the public sector. The emphasis must shift to Collaborative Governance, and a CitizenVision 2.0 can support that transition Ambition Fifteen years ago in the Netherlands the first program started of what later became known as Electronic Government (eGovernment). Public Counter 2000 introduced the one-stop shop model and did so under the motto “Thinking and working from the citizen’s perspective”. Ever since, each eGovernment project has called itself “citizen centric”. However, the past years prove that rhetoric is easier than actual implementation. Citizen centricity not only requires a change in attitude, also necessary are practical methods and tools. What progress has been made since and how did citizens benefit from eGovernment? Results In order to determine whether a target has been reached, one needs a benchmark. Surprisingly this was missing from the very beginning. Therefore in 2005 the Citizen@Government Forum devised the eCitizenCharter. It intends to match the ambitions of government with the expectations of citizens. The charter consists of 10 quality standards that can be applied both as design requirements beforehand and evaluation criteria afterwards. As design requirements, the quality standards have been incorporated in the Dutch Government Reference Architecture (NORA). Unfortunately, this has been no guarantee for systematic application. Thus the neglect of transparency has been a major cause for problems like the premature discontinuation of electronic voting, the failure of the eHealth file, the trouble with the public transportation chip card or the commotion about the smart energy meters. As evaluation criteria, the quality standards were used to measure citizen satisfaction. From 2008 to 2010, the...

UNDESA Workshop on “Engaging Citizens to Enhance Public Service Delivery and Strengthen Accountability”

  This Workshop explored how the engagement of citizens—and their organizations in civil society and the private sector—can contribute to improve public accountability in public service delivery and spending. The Workshop enhanced knowledge and built a shared understanding of what participatory institutions, approaches and tools can be adopted by countries to make public service delivery more effective, equitable, transparent, responsive and citizen-centric. This is of particular importance at this time, as the United Nations Members States have identified participatory approaches to the provision of public services as a useful course of action for countries in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.     The meeting was held from 12-13 July 2011 in the UN Headquarters in Vienna. I attended on special invitation by Roberto Vilarreal, chief of Management Development at UNDESA/UNPAN  and presented the eCitizenCharter as a tool for stimulating citizen engagement. His endorsement: “I reiterate my highest professional regard to you as an expert and consultant on eParticipation. I am of the opinion that your leadership and work in the Netherlands about the eCitizen Charter is the most refined and advanced experience with a practical empowering and results-oriented spirit that I have seen around the world in recent times, and that is why I hope that experience can be brought closer to the UN to assist other countries in expanding similarly the rights of their citizens to benefit from the rapid ongoing expansion of eGovernment services.” Agenda Presentation...

FutureGov Forum Taiwan 2010

FutureGovForum Taiwan 2010: Cloud computing & crowd computing Taipei 1-2 december 2010 Having presented the “Citizenlink” approach to citizen centred government earlier this year in Singapore and Australia, I was invited to do so too in Taiwan. The conference was held in Shangri La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel in the capital Taipei. Taipei City is dominated by “101”, the name given to the second tallest building in the world because of its number of floors. As a building it combines the characteristics of a western style skyscraper with a distinct eastern bamboo look. In his opening address Kuan Chung, President of the Examination Yuan explained the strategy to reform Government. Whereas most democracies have three powers (Legislative, Executive and Judiciary) Taiwan has five institutions, so called “Yuans”: also Control and Examination. Control is responsible for Audits and Examination is for the Civil Service. Chung stressed that quality is not about efficiency, but about performance, so training and evaluation of the civil service are core pillars for government reform aimed at transparency and competence. eGovernment is integral part of this. The two day FGT Taiwan 2010 Programme covered hot topics in the field of both government technology and organisation. Delegates were mostly from Taiwan national and local government. Apart from Taiwan speakers, international speakers came from Korea, Japan, Singapore, Australia, me being the only one form Europe. Several speakers dealt with cloud computing and the issue of green IT was also high on the agenda. The Netherlands’ policy to innovate the public sector by tackling quality standards, satisfaction measurement and citizen involvement in one integrated impulse, proved again to be...

Smart Government Australia 2010

For the third time in less than a year I visited Australia as an international key note speaker. This time on invitation by Terrapin for Smart Government Australia 2010, held in Melbourne 14-15 September 2010. Being invited “Down Under” to talk about eGovernment actually is an honor, since Australia is widely acclaimed to be in the forefront of Gov 2.0 development. It was indeed stimulating to have Nicholas Gruen, who headed Australia’s the Gov 2.0 Taskforce, as a conference chair. In his opening speech he stressed the importance of open networks that grow without access fee. The increase in public value is far greater than the profits private the companies who run these gain (Google’s “crumbs”). As far as platforms are concerned, in his view government should not act as a wholesaler but as a retailer. By providing open data, government can trigger applications. He gave examples of predicting crime, social security fraud, identifying peer schools. In case some of these infringe privacy, the role of government could be building integrity by creating public private partnerships. Gruen urged civil servants to blog and tweet, however of those present only a minority did. He reminded them that only by participating in social networks, you’ll get response. Being an advocate for equity of access, he conceded that the Digital Divide might not go away, and could resurface as the Participation Partition. The parallell sessions showcased several projects and developments in the Australian public sector. John Wadeson of Centrelink, the Australian Government Agency that delivers payments and services for a number of departments, explained the customer strategy. At present social media tools are not much...

FutureGovForum, Australia

Australia is definitely in the lead as far as a Government 2.0 strategy is concerned. The Netherlands may have a lack of policy, but there is a lot of activity. Both countries face the challenge of implementing cross organisational collaboration. Because of its size, Australia may find it harder to reach consensus about implementation. On invitation by FutureGovMagazine, I attended as an international guest speaker this conference held 26-27 July at the National Convention Centre in Canberra. The format was different from traditional conferences. Apart from three plenary speeches and two panel discussions, there where 12 round tables where delegates rotated every 40 minutes. The topics on the tables covered the whole range of technical and organizational matters in ICT and the public sector, from cloud computing to Gov2.0. I was asked to be international discussion leader for the table on Citizen Service Delivery. Participants were senior civil servants in Australian federal and state government. Peter Harper, head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics gave the kick off with a strong plea for open government data, which means that these should be available, accessible and freely shared. Since the fixed cost of collecting the data is already paid for during the original process, the price of data depends on the marginal costs for distributing. In the internet age these are negligible. However, serious barriers do exist because data should be readable and understandable, and metadata has to be added. Moreover agencies that depend on selling data for their budget will experience a loss of revenue. Nevertheless there are sizeable economic and social benefits to be gained. It opens the...