Editor : Martin Simamora, S.IP |Martin Simamora Press

Rabu, 05 Oktober 2011

The Frustration of an Open Government Leader

A few days ago I had the chance to meet one of those individuals who have really embraced and driven openness in the government organization where he is responsible for IT. I was fascinated by hearing the story of how he was an agent of change, turned around the way IT was managed, dramatically improved his staff’s morale by relentlessly pursuing transparency and engagement, and put his government organization on the map of leaders in the open government space.

From embracing open data to encouraging the use of social media, from supporting a mobile workforce to pursuing a bring-your-own-device policy, this individual has really cracked the code of how to be a modern IT organization as well as a compelling employer for IT professionals.

Unfortunately, though, it is not all gold that glitters. As soon as I asked how the crowdsourcing initiatives he had been conducting inside the IT shop and the external-facing open data application contests were transforming the way the business operates, the tone of the conversation changed.

He confessed that, despite all his efforts over the last few years, cultural barriers to change remain, and he recognized that the business does not see IT as strategic. As an IT director, he does not even report to the political leader in charge of the whole organization. So innovation inside the IT department as well as with well-confined constituencies (such as the open government community) is possible, but this does not translate into the changing the way government conducts business.

Unfortunately this is not the exception, but the rule. Governments seem reluctant to change the way the operate, and open government remains at the edges, almost yet another compliance requirement, but nothing that triggers sustainable change.

Hundreds of application contests, idea collections, crowdsourcing, barcamps, hackatons, leave business processes unscathed, and the role and reputation of IT in the business unchanged. The only way things can change is when open government will turn from a nice-to-have to a must-have, from an opportunity to a necessity.

Unfortunately for many of us, but luckily for the open government proponents, unprecedented budget constraints and the threat to the sustainability of government services and operations may soon make that change happen. And, smart as he is, this is exactly what he is waiting for.
Andrea Di Maio
VP Distinguished Analyst
Milan Italy

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