About the author: Molly O’Neill, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for the Office of Environmental Information and Chief Information Officer.
It is no secret that I believe Web 2.0 technology has a place in government. This new generation of technology (e.g. wikis, blogs, etc.) is not all that technically complex, but it’s web-based which means it can be used to build communities easily over the Internet. It is an amazing leap forward in how all of us interact with information.
However, I would hazard that most people are more interested in the quality and product of the experience with their government and with each other rather than with the enabling technology. So, we need to think about how best wikis, blogs, and discussion boards can be used to interact inside of government or with citizens. When we roll these new technologies out, we need to do so understanding we are learning and evolving. The transformation of Marcus Peacock’s blog “Flow of the River” into this Agency-wide blog “Greenversations” is a prime example. I am not exactly sure where this technology will ultimately take us at EPA, but I can say we should not be paralyzed by it or chase the leading edge to the extreme. It does, however, allow us to truly invite and integrate citizen, community, scientific, and regulatory contributions in new ways.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal highlights how Web 2.0 is changing the way government does business “From Wikinomics to Government 2.0”. The Federal CIO Community is working together on establishing Best Practices in Government 2.0 (Gov 2.0). And, understanding that these new collaborative tools might have in impact on policy, many of us in the federal government are addressing these issues together as well with help from the National Academy of Public Administration.
At EPA, our mission requires an intense level of collaboration with partners in our shared mission. I can see the future as not too far off where Gov 2.0 tools are used to share vast amounts of information between levels of government from all over the world and for government to engage citizens in new ways. This is a critical step in evolving government services to become more agile, responsive, and inclusive.
Please let me know your thoughts on how Gov 2.0 tools can be effective in enhancing access to environmental information by visiting our National Dialogue on Access to Environmental Information website.