In June 2009 when the Federal Government announced the establishment of a Government 2.0 Taskforce, Microsoft agreed to make available up to $2.45 million for a Project Fund, to fund projects connected with the Taskforce's work. This funding was provided under an Operational Agreement between Microsoft and the Commonwealth.
That support funded 18 commissioned projects, two public competitions and a GovHack event. Microsoft's then Public Sector Director Ms. Pip Marlow also served as a member of the Taskforce which released its final report on the 22nd of December last year.
As the Taskforce reported, Government 2.0 is about the use of technology to encourage a more open and transparent form of government. It is also about giving the public a greater role in forming policy and improving access to government. Microsoft endorses and supports these goals.
That is why, following further discussion with the Australian Government Information Management Office, Microsoft has made available to the Federal Government $1 million to support the further development of tools and processes to enable the culture of Government 2.0 to be realised across the Federal Public Service. The $1 million has been provided without condition and Microsoft has neither requested nor expects to receive any reconciliation of the use of these funds.
As I have noted in previous posts on the topic of Government 2.0, cultural change in the Public Service will be the biggest hurdle to realising the vision of Government 2.0. This is a reflection on the enormous difficulty of shifting cultural behaviours in any bureaucracy - public or private.
Much has been made in recent times of the proposals for delivering high speed broadband to Australians. Microsoft supports ubiquitous high speed broadband because of the transformational possibilities it holds. However, how you get high speed broadband, though determinative, will never be as important as what you do with it. In a similar vein, the tools of Government 2.0 will only go some way to enabling the possibilities of the technology. People will enable the transformational power of technology to be realised.
In my view Government 2.0 initiatives can create opportunities for more participation in our democracy by citizens. They can enable more information held by government to be made available to people throughout the world thereby increasing the likelihood that useful tools will be developed to solve problems and expand knowledge. These initiatives will need to become embedded in the way government not only communicates but designs, operates and implements policies and programs. This is a future in which it is worth investing.
Simon Edwards Director of Corporate Affairs