Web 2.0 and Government Transformation: How E-Government and Social Media Contribute to Innovation in Public Services

Web 2.0 and Government Transformation: How E-Government and Social Media Contribute to Innovation in Public Services

Jon E. Glasco
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0071-3.ch013
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The existing body of knowledge on public sector transformation explores the concept that e-government contributes to improving public sector services and increasing the participation of citizens in government planning and change initiatives. This chapter provides information on the potential for a digital ecosystem of government, citizens and businesses to use Web 2.0 and social media innovation to shape government transformation and contribute to government’s quality-of-life mission. The chapter includes examples of how web-centric technologies affect e-government innovation and proposes a new planning framework for web-centric services.
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A recurring public sector theme is that government needs to change and become more customer-focused, e.g., public sector services should be designed based on the needs of the citizen as a customer. At a time when public sector managers attempt to transform government organizations from an internal focus to customer-focused cultures and develop new services and performance metrics, they face additional pressures to provide innovative access to government for citizens who use a wide range of digital devices to connect via social media, mobile, wireless, and broadband networks. As individuals, families and businesses become increasingly dependent on network-based services and near-continuous online connectivity, their expectations for e-government also increase. Adding to these trends—in the midst of recent economic and financial crises—are the pressures for governments to reduce budgets, streamline operations, and derive more returns from income-generating services while creating competitive, knowledge-driven, sustainable economies. Unfortunately, the pressures to reduce government spending places some segments of society at greater risk, in particular disadvantaged groups (such as low income, unemployed, minorities, disabled and elderly citizens) that have higher dependence on government services and support. Therefore, an issue for public sector planners is how e-government, social media and other innovations will enable improved (and lower cost) access to public services. Public sector policy makers are also mandating that governments ensure citizens and businesses are cooperative participants in government plans and decision-making activities, including participation enabled by e-government.

The breadth and depth of these forces acting on the public sector lead to concerns (Yu, 2007) about whether existing strategy models are adequate to plan the next generation of public sector services, especially in light of the growing need to coordinate ESM plans more closely with other aspects of government planning and measure results in terms of the impact on quality of life. Other challenges for public sector planners involve innovations in e-government and e-infrastructure that look beyond low-risk incremental changes to complex breakthrough solutions. “Progress in a host of policy areas—including health care, transportation, energy, environment, public safety, and the economy—will be determined in part by how well nations develop and deploy information technology.” (Atkinson and Castro, 2008, p.12)

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