Government and it’s functionality is often one of the eternal questions. Everyday we listen, read or write how governments on all levels are non-transparent, inaccessible or detached from actual needs of those to whom they should serve. Enormous bureaucratic systems, slow beyond apprehension and often very successful in wasting taxpayers money. Over the last few years numerous public speakers, digital world leaders, big data researchers are coming with many innovative ideas how to transform this in many countries, 18th-19th rarely 20th century systems, with more open and more accessible governing conglomerates. Key roles in this transformative reform will be played by young people with background in programming, coding, web design and social media as one of the largest communication channels today.
Recently during an visit to the bookstore I stumble upon a book called “Citizenville: How to take town square digital and reinvent government” by Lt. Gov. of California and former San Francisco Mayor, Gavin Newsom and well known ghostwriter Lisa Dickey. Mr. Newsom in his book in a very simple language and with very viable informations presents a case for new government. Government which will be run by the government leaders who will think but more importantly work as entrepreneurs. In his book Newsom is calling for a real revolution, creates in words of Arianna Huffington:
“[Citizenville] provides a blueprint for a government that can tap into the creativity, innovation and transparency that define digital and social media, and makes the case for using all the tools at our disposal to improve our government — and our lives”.
Newsom spoke with many entrepreneurial minds in the United States and those who lead similar processes abroad as President of Estonia or as it is often called E-Stonia. One of the is Jennifer Pahlka who’s the founder and executive director of Code for America, which works with talented web professionals and cities around the country to promote public service and reboot government.
In attached video you can hear Mrs. Pahlka speaking at the TED event about Coding a better government, and that’s one of key elements of this revolutionary proposal by Lt. Gov. Newsom.
On the other side, but not opposite to what Newsom wants, stands US President Barack Obama and his administration. His team since 2009 works on creating new ways to communicate with citizens. As we remember President often goes to YouTube, Twitter and Reddit to reach citizens and learn from them about their needs or wishes. He hired in 2009 Beth Noveck as Chief Technology Officer at the Open Government Initiative, who’s named by the Foreign Policy as its 2012 Top 100 Global Thinkers. She also spoke at TED talks and gave us insight how one of the largest administrations in the world functioned before Obama took power in 2009, and what’s ahead of us.
While ideas presented by Newsom, Huffington, Pahlka and Noveck are very encouraging and inspiring, I am afraid that we’ll need to wait a substantial period of time before these are introduced in governmental systems of North America. “Status quo” in the government and bureaucrats who run it are the biggest enemies of innovation, improvement, new ways of communication and better cooperation with citizens. It would be nice to sit a this same place where I sit now and cast my ballot on upcoming elections, but I am very afraid that for a long time I will cast my paper ballot and then use social media to announce that. But let’s be optimistic.