From August 29 to September 2 both the EGOV 2010 and ePart 2010 conferences (the ninth conference of the IFIP WG 8.5 group) took part in Lausanne, Mouline – a rather rural but overally nice area (one was literally facing cows when getting off the metro). This year the conferences were hosted at the Swiss Graduate School of Public Administration – IDHEAP. Some minutes of the keynotes and selected presentations of the first two days.
EGOV 2010 Opening
The EGOV 2010 was taking place outside the DEXA framework for the first time this year, starting with some facts and figures about this year’s papers and the invitation to the next conference in Delfth (15 min. from Amsterdam) 2011. Keynote K. Holkeri from Finland focused on open and inclusive policy making.
Katju Holkeri Focus on Citizens ‐ Open and Inclusive Policy‐Making
„It makes me a better leader because it forces me to hear opinions that I don’t want to hear“ (B. Obama to Chinese students)
Fins tend to think that they’re very good in inclusion. However, one has to distinguish between traditional consultation (government as an owner, consultation when work is done) and participation and inclusion with a variety of tools. The instrumental reasons for going from participation 1.0 to 2.0 are a better outcome, lest costs, higher compliance, a respondense to greater diversity and innovative solutions. According to Holkeri, innovation is one of the key issue of governments as they struggle with innovative options. Consequently, what Holkeri expects most from research is research on innovation.
Whilst in Finland there is a good basis of democracy, one could also see a tendency towards a so called „tired democracy“: openness is good, but trust in the government is still declining. The OECD therefore published a list of principles for open and inclusive policy making. Holkeri also addressed the risks of this concept, e.g. delay in policy making, hijacking by special interest groups, conflicts with the roles of politicians, administrative burden or consulation fatigue. Now why does not everyone participate anyways? According to a Finnish survey, the first reason is a low interest in politics, followed by low trust in governemnts and a lack of time. Other reasons are that people see no personal gain or believe that interestests are protected by others. Very few are content with current politics and even noone is unsatisfied with existing tools. Now what we should focus on is a common commitment and strategy as opposed to only several tools.
A finnish project with 800 young visitors a month is habbo hotel.
The track on the citizen’s perspective somehow lacked the real citizen focus 🙂 but covered a broad range of studies from the improvement of e-mail-communication using language technology to the development of a framework for enriched online discussion forums for policy making. The IMAIL project aims to increase the quality and efficiency of office work by automatically answering emails from citizens for officers with answer templates. Interestingly enough, about 42 % of incoming emails to an European education provider could be answered with 9 different standard answers (Scheffer 2004). A Swedish social insurance agency receives around 40.000 emails per month with 640 handling officers. More information on the other text analysis project, IMPACT (Integrated Method for Policy Making Using Argument Modelling and Computer Assisted Text Analysis) can be found here. This is more or less only for participants who are willing wo participate in complex systems.
Sharon Dawes (NY): Strategies for Open Government: Toward a New Research Agenda
Dawes gave an overview about Open Government and escpecially the Open Data strategy, pointing out what’s old and new and focusing on both praise and criticism of the concept. There is a long tradition of open access and open information, but what is new is the commitment to openness without the citizens having to request information. (pro-active data release). Points of criticism are: uneven usability and no support, stewardship practises, questionable relevance of content, inadequate metadata or lack of feedback mechanisms. Research findings showed that the fitness for use determines the value of data for any given use or user. Moreover, understanding data also requires to understand how data is produced. A case study of parcel data (selected organisations were interviewed) examined costs, issues, interest, uses and flow of the data. It showed that the stakeholders identified are quite different. Dawes‘ recommendations for governments were to build data dissemination policies into regular business and to ensure meta data standards as well as a support for users and officials. Research should focus on the following topics: Which information creates which value?; the exploration of public value proposition from multiple perspectives; the development of tools and mashups.
The track also included an analysis of the structure of the eGov-community by a citation network and social networks analysis.
Christoph Schaller: Advanced Cockpits for Municipalities: Focusing on the Relevance and Challenges of Importing Data
The goal of this project assessed in pilot municipalities was to develop a web-based management cockpit for strategic and info-based leadership drawing on the fact that management is becoming increasingly difficult in small and middle municipalities. From the IT point of view one can adapt business intelligence models for municipalities. The data types used for this project were basically citizens register data and financial data. One of the lessons learned from the project is that it is absolutely necessary to import detailed data and to pay special attention to data quality and data protection regulations. Further activities include user training and ensuring the long-term activity of the cockpit. Project details to be found on gemeindecockpit.ch.
Dzhumalieva, Stefka: Value Assessment Tool for ICT Projects at the European Commission
The VAST tool is designed to examine the value and therefore the success of ICT projects in terms of efficiency (monetary value) and public value. Public organisations are increasingly managed with constant or diminishing resources and decisions for new investments have to be taken cautiously. Building on existing value assessment methodologies, VAST is a custom-made value assessment tool tailored to the context of the European Commission. Its use helps to identify the value of an ICT project going beyond the traditional financial paradigm and allows cross-comparison between similar projects.