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Civil Servant 2.0, a network to discuss web 2.0 and government

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Civil Servant 2.0 is a platform and network for civil servants and civilians to discuss the effect that web 2.0 has on government and the public sector. The changes that web 2.0 brings will not only affect the relationship between citizens and government, but also the internal structure of governmental organizations and the way civil servants work.

The role of the Civil Servant 2.0 platform and network is to create awareness and alert civil servants to these changes and possibilities, to discuss them and to stimulate pilot experiments in order to implement the ideas. By sharing these experiences and supporting initiatives we hope to improve the successive workings and the work of the Dutch government. The ultimate goal is to optimize (online) public service for Dutch society.

Civil Servant 2.0 is mostly run on a voluntary basis by civil servants and others who are committed to improving government with the tools and mindset of web 2.0. For this we make use of free online software to share knowledge and ideas and collaborate on new plans.

Policy context

March 2008, the Dutch ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality decided to start a research project called Civil Servant 2.0 regarding the effect of web 2.0 on the ministry. In the spirit of web 2.0 the project manager started a public blog site to discuss developments and share knowledge. This site soon attracted civil servants from other national and local governmental institutions and became the focal point for discussing the future of government 2.0 in The Netherlands.

Besides doing research and exploring the possibilities of web 2.0 for government, the project focuses on educating civil servants in using internet tools and adapting to the mindset of a web 2.0 society. This will empower civil servants to work more efficiently and openly but also to cooperate more easily and interactively with other government officials and with civilians. This will lead to a government that is transparent, accessible and responsive.

Although Civil Servant 2.0 was initiated by the Dutch ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, currently people from a number of governmental organizations and civilians participate in maintaining and improving the internet sites and services. The initiative has no budget and relies on the support of its network to remain active and grow. This is done using free online tools to stay in contact, collaborate on new activities and find new contributors.

Target users

n/a

Description of target users and groups

Civil servants and civilians in the Netherlands who are interested in improving the work and workings of the Dutch government by using the possibilities and mindset of web 2.0.

Further, because the site is in Dutch, we also have a number of Belgian members.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

The initiative relies on it's open character in terms of contibutions from numerous governmental organizations, professionals within both public and private sector and last but not least the participation of civilians presenting themselves based on individual "special interests".

The collective of Civil Servant 2.0 initiaves relies on "the power of crowds" and "open environment". As a result, it's network growth is organic, establishes consistent widening variety of topics/discussion and a sustainable continous improvement in terms of the quality in content.

This also leads to additional deepening and expansion of discussion and learning within the generic peer-group(s). As a result, the intensity of moderation and guidance on the online channels of the collective remains relatively limited leaving room for continuous development for/by core-contributors.

Technology solution

Civil Servant 2.0 is using free social media sites, e.g. a network site (Ning), a blogging site (WordPress, self hosted), a wiki (Wetpaint), etc.

Next to that other online services are used, e.g. Google Groups, MailChimp, FeedBurner, Disqus, etc.

 

We have used 'Best of Breed' web 2.0 products, all of them are either open source software, or are SaaS (software as a service) products with an advertizing revenue model.

This means that the investments in software and services are extremely limited; which made it possible to start en grow this initiative on a purely volunteering basis. Both public sector and private sector involvement is on this basis.

For a comprehensive service offering, we have choosing the following products and platforms:

- WordPress weblog (wordpress.org, implemented as www.ambtenaar20.nl) hosted at a webhosting company, This is the main user interface, it ties the other products together
- Ning community SaaS-platform (www.ning.com; implemented as http://netwerk.ambtenaar20.nl)
- WetPaint wiki software SaaS-platform (www.wetpaint,com); several wiki's have been implemented with this platform, e.g. werkplaats.ambtenaar20.nl.

Using the menustructure of the Ning and of WordPress, users can easily navigate to all these platforms, and access the comprehensive functionality with no need for any training. This ease-of-use enabled the rapid growth of the community (about 15% growth/month, one of the fastest growing Dutch Ning communities).

Some future developments that are planned:

- During 2009 we will enhance the ease-of-use by introducing some market leading modules for authentication (a combination of Google Friend Connect and/or Facebook connect and/or OpenId Hyves connect and/or Twitter OAuth authentication), and and comment management (probably www.disqus.com). This is currently under investigation. Usage of these platforms is free-of-charge.

- Complete integration with the emergent microblogging platform Twitter. This will enable users to more easily give comments on blogposts, which will probably lead to a higher growth rate (in number of users, number of posts and dialogues).

Some other out-of-packet expenses are:
- hosting the WordPress weblog, - developer license for the Thesis WordPress template ($187);
- one-time expense for eliminating the advertisements at the Ning community site (EUR $29 per month);

These expenses are carried by various members of the community, a clear sign of the commitment of these members.

 

Main results, benefits and impacts

To learn more about Civil Servant 2.0 please read about several of our activities below. Links to the different activities are provided at the end of each line. The Dutch sites have been translated into English by Google Translate (http://translate.google.com):

  • Web log: The blog site publishes articles from several bloggers about government 2.0, about projects and experiments in governmental organizations and about new plans and activities: see http://english.ambtenaar20.nl.
  • Network: A networking site was launched in June 2008. Currently about 1500 members from different organizations are able to connect and share knowledge and experiences: see http://network.ambtenaar20.nl.
  • Book: In addition to the website, Civil Servant 2.0 has published a book which is freely available online and in print. This book explains web 2.0 and its consequences for governmental organizations and civil servants, but also gives practical advice in using web 2.0 effectively and safely: see http://book.ambtenaar20.nl.
  • Education: Empowering civil servants in using web 2.0 starts with educating them. Therefore we give classes on the impact of web 2.0 and on which tools to use to enhance the way civil servants work: see http://classes.ambtenaar20.nl.
  • Speakers: Civil Servant 2.0 has also founded a speakers academy that gives inspirational speeches for (local) governmental organizations: see http://speakers.ambtenaar20.nl.
  • Meetings: We also organize biweekly meetings with guest speakers called Open Coffee. These gatherings are publicly accessible: see http://opencoffee.ambtenaar20.nl.
  • Tips: We are currently working on a service which regularly publishes tips and tricks for civil servants to use web 2.0 to work more efficiently and effectively. This way the members of the Civil Servant 2.0 network can teach one another: see http://tips.ambtenaar20.nl (work in progress, Dutch site).

Return on investment description

n/a

Track record of sharing

Civil Servant 2.0 is a network and platform for sharing experiences and best practices between civil servants on how to use web 2.0 in government work. This is done through the discussion site, the blog, the book, the speakers network, the open meetings and the courses.

All activities are open to the public, the book is sent freely to all who order and the courses are available to people from all government bodies. In a number of government bodies local Civil Servant 2.0 activities are organized by civil servants there, also in Belgium.

At the moment the network has 1460 members.

Lessons learnt

Civil Servant 2.0 attrackts a lot of interest from all levels of government. There's clearly an interest in the possibilities and the demands of web 2.0 for government.

Also there's a great need for civil servants with an interest in web 2.0 to come together, ask questions and share experiences, forgoing the borders between different organizations and government levels.

Members share there own lessons learned through there personal pages, lessons from research and vision on the future of government 2.0 are shared through the main blog. See http://english.ambtenaar20.nl.

Documentation

Case Info

Acronym:
Civil Servant 2.0
Website URL:
http://english.ambtenaar20.nl
Start date:
31 January 2008
Operational date:
31 January 2008

Information

Sector:
Target Users or Group:
Administrative, Business (industry), Business (self-employed), Business (SME), Citizen, Civil society, Intermediaries, Other
highlight:
Benchlearning Community, eGovernment, ePractice, IT-Governance, Procurement, IT & Standards (PITS), Telemedicine & Chronic Disease Management
Case status:
Operation
Funding source:
Charity, voluntary contributions
Geographic coverage:
Netherlands
Implementation cost:
€1-5,000
Keywords:
Community, eParticipation, government2.0
Scope:
Cross-border, National
My languages:
Dutch
Themes:
Efficiency & Effectiveness, Benchmarking, eGovernment, eParticipation, eDemocracy and eVoting, Policy
Type of initiative:
Network, Project or service, Promotion/awareness campaign
Technology choice:
Not applicable / Not available
Return on investment:
Not applicable / Not available
Type of service:
Participation
Overall implementation approach:
Partnerships between administration and/or private sector and/or non-profit sector
Yearly cost:
€1-49,000