Blog: User-Friendly Government

September 10, 2009
By H. Mosher

The ultimate goal of government 2.0 should be a user-friendly government, whether that user is the citizen availing him or herself of services or the user is the government agency using these tools to collaborate and share information, said panelists at a discussion after lunch on Thursday at the Gov 2.0 Summit. For the defense and intelligence sectors, those internal capabilities are most attractive, but even behind the secure networks, challenges of culture still exist.

Lt. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sorenson, USA, the U.S. Army chief information officer (CIO)/G-6, pointed out that communities of interest are forming around how best to approach the procedures needed in Iraq and Afghanistan, particularly when warfighters discover that they are seeing some of the same things in Afghanistan that they saw in Iraq.

Gen. Sorenson also observed that with regard to public engagement, gov 2.0 platforms allow the military public affairs offices to "tell the story" better than it has in the past.

For the defense sector to move from need-to-know to need-to-share-a cultural shift that Gen. Sorenson stated has just begun- requires the elimination of legacy barriers. One area he's seeing it in practice is in suicide prevention among warfighters: making the data more accessible whether it comes from a health office or a personnel office or anywhere else. To accomplish this, barriers between those offices must be flattened.

Michele Weslander Quaid, chief technology officer at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), noted that the intelligence community is working on making all data accessible and discoverable by appropriately cleared people. The new tools also allow a non-cleared person to directly request access.

With regard to the culture shift, Weslander Quaid made the observation that it was more important to identify the need before the technology to address that need. As she observed, "You have to find the people who have to collaborate anyway, then find the tools that allow them to collaborate better."

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