Getting Ready for OpenGovWest BC – Nov. 10, 2010

Only a few more days until OpenGovWest BC goes down in Victoria and I gotta say, I’m pretty excited. There’s a fantastic lineup of keynotes and presenters (humbled to be presenting alongside them), a sold-out attendee list and a group of really amazing, motivated people showing their passion for building this young community of public sector stakeholders.

I became involved with the conference organising committee a few months ago when they were entering the final push to get all the logistics and planning sorted in order to make this a memorable event, and things have come a long way in the last few weeks. I am particularly excited to have many members of the core group of active open gov and CPS renewal advocates in the room together. I imagine there will be some pretty energetic conversations ensuing.

My take on, and interest in open government lies in the assessment of how ready the public service is to build and sustain a culture of ‘open’ with external and internal stakeholders. While we can dream up every flavour of initiative that would qualify, they won’t be sustainable if the organization responsible is not aligned and engaged with similar approaches.

A systemic focus on availability, accessibility, relevance and trust is a good start, but these are not changes that you throw a system at and see recognizable improvements upon implementation. This is the really hard, really down-and-dirty work that requires prolonged commitments and grassroots initiatives, gutting the status quo and turning policy and directives, processes and protocol on their respective heads. It requires engaged staff who are long-term investors, and it requires Nick Charney’s brand of collaboration, predicated on action.

I encourage all of the attendees to jump in and get actively involved with the discussions and activities, form relationships with co-participants and engage with the presenters. Read Walter Schwabe’s advice on how to make it a successful event for you and the rest of the attendees, and then have fun.

I’m so looking forward to learning and absorbing everything on Wednesday and am really, really excited by the overwhelming response this event has gotten. Thanks to the organizing committee and sponsors for their support and tireless effort. I predict it’s going to be inspiring.

5 Responses

  1. You wonder about “how ready the public service is to build and sustain a culture of ‘open’ with external and internal stakeholders.”

    I suspect more ready than they or we realize. Sure, there are the usual pessimists who think nothing will change. But, hey, the Berlin Wall fell down pretty quickly. Why not the “closed” doors of government?

    While there are no end of reasons why things will never change, there is one big reason why they will: it is the right thing to do.

    In fact, it always WAS the right thing to do but no one could imagine how. Now we know how, we have tons of examples, and – best of all – I think there are good cases to be made that it will cost less in the long run.

    For everyone in government, a new question: instead of “how can we make this more open?” How about: “why does this need to be locked up?” I bet, most of the time, there isn’t a really good reason for that.

    And where you need to hide some information because of privacy or whatever, let the rest out as aggregate information, or don’t collect the private stuff in the first place.

    • Thanks for the thoughtful comments, Richard. I think what you suggest is an excellent alternative to the question we keep asking. I actually do have a lot of optimism that we can and will see change, as it is happening already and I am inspired by the folks in the public service who are actively making those changes. My point was more that the changes need to be systemic and cultural rather than one-off and tactical.

  2. “Gutting the status quo,” LOVE IT! Great post.

  3. […] learns from itself and citizens at large.  A reduction of duplication and foolish waste, a “gutting of the status quo,” as was mentioned in this post by Stephanie Hayes.   Now I know this type of high-level […]

  4. […] learns from itself and citizens-at-large.  A reduction of duplication and foolish waste, a “gutting of the status quo,” as mentioned in this post by Stephanie Hayes.   Now I know this type of high-level […]

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