GTEC 2007: Government 2.0 targets online collaborative tools

One of the more compelling capabilities of Web 2.0 is how it changes the basic Web paradigm from “publish” to “participate.” What this means for the Canadian government is a necessary evolution in its business operations, says federal Chief Information Officer Ken Cochrane.

“With the CIO branch’s work in the area of policy development, a key element is to ensure that a broad spectrum of ideas and interest groups are involved in the development of new policy instruments,” he says.

“From this perspective, the CIO branch has been piloting Web 2.0 tools to establish how they can be used effectively across a government-wide community.”

A proof-of-concept pilot using blogging software is currently under way with the aim to improve both the breadth and agility of consultation and participation with government departments and agencies in developing policies, guidelines and standards, says Cochrane.

“Using the concept of Web 2.0, government is evolving its internal business operations, and needs to continue to evolve, to ensure we have a modern and attractive workplace environment that supports employees as they provide services to citizens,” he adds.

Cochrane will be addressing this type of online collaboration at GTEC 2007 this month, within the theme of “Government 2.0: Exploring a New Age of Collaboration.”

The three-day conference takes place in Ottawa, the federal government hub of Canada, and aims to explore dynamic business environments that are being driven by Web 2.0 applications and solutions.

Cochrane adds that GTEC (Government Technology Exhibition and Conference) brings together some of the latest and best in IT and service delivery from across Canada and around the world, both public and private sector.

The Government of Canada strives to be innovative and a leader in information technology and management, he says, and both Treasury Board Secretariat and the CIO branch have a significant role to play in leading a number of government-wide communities.

The stated vision of the CIO branch is to “lead the government-wide pursuit of excellence in service delivery and in the management of information and technology for the Government of Canada.”

With respect to the business of government, Cochrane says Internet-based and other new technologies have driven the way Canadians citizens expect to interact with their government.

“With this in mind, the Government of Canada is taking steps to build the infrastructure and partnerships that will underpin federal service delivery now and in the years to come.

“By continuing to adopt an integrated approach to service and service delivery, one that is based on the needs of people, both citizens and employees, rather than the structure of departments, the Government of Canada expects to make services faster and simpler to use, more secure, more cost-effective, and less burdensome to users in terms of time, cost and effort.”

One of the highlighted events at this year’s GTEC is the CIO Boot Camp. Cochrane notes that although Web 2.0 is an important part of the evolving technology and social landscape, CIOs in the Government of Canada need to have a broad understanding of a variety of information, technology and management tools and practices.

“A key challenge for CIOs is to understand how new technologies and practices are being successfully implemented elsewhere and then communicate this to their organizations in a way that demonstrates the value that can be realized through their adoption.”

“No CIO can accomplish all this alone, so we work together as a community within the Government of Canada and participate with those in other jurisdictions as well as industry to enhance our knowledge and awareness of this broad and exciting industry.”

In his message to GTEC attendees, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says this year’s theme is very timely: “The pace and scale of technological change presents an ongoing challenge for governments. Increasingly, citizens are expecting information and services to be available online, while governments require accurate and secure data.”

GTEC provides public service employees with an opportunity to share information and to discover the latest applications available to assist them in delivering the best service to the Canadian public, says Harper.
Cochrane describes GTEC as an opportunity to further collaboration among the three levels of government as well as with the private sector and foreign governments by creating an environment in which there is an open sharing of ideas.

“The GTEC forum calls upon thought leaders to share leading-edge practices, innovations and lessons…Perhaps most importantly, GTEC provides an opportunity to benchmark, share, learn and interact directly with the people who are on the leading edge of service excellence and innovation.”

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