Gov 2.0 Down Under: Australia and open government

Federal Senator Kate Lundy and Nicholas Gruen on Australia's open government plans.

Discussions of Gov 2.0 all too frequently focus on U.S.-based projects like NHIN Connect, healthcare apps, and cities moving to cloud computing. What’s often overlooked are international Gov 2.0 efforts like open data initiatives in the E.U and Tim Berners-Lee and, open government in Canada and international data websites in Canada, Norway, Estonia, New Zealand and, significantly, Australia.

Australia earns special notice because of its rapid progress in open government initiatives, as demonstrated in the Australian Gov 2.0 showcase. That’s why Gartner government analyst Andrea Di Maio gave Australia’s Gov 2.0 efforts high marks in a 2009 year in review. That’s also why a Gov 2.0 Expo panel last month called “Lessons from Down Under: How Australia is Leading the World in Gov 2.0” was grounded in tangible, ongoing initiatives.

To learn more about Australia’s efforts, I interviewed Federal Senator Kate Lundy and Nicholas Gruen at Gov 2.0 Expo. Both interviews are embedded after the jump.

Australian progress toward Government 2.0

In our interview, Senator Lundy talked about Australia’s Government 2.0 task force and the recent passage of important legislation, including:

  1. A Freedom of Information Act, which Lundy said is “a series of amendments that upgrade default positions of government to release information collected by agencies unless there’s a compelling reason no to.” Effectively, in Australia public equals online.

  2. The establishment of an “Information Commissioner,” a new statutory position for someone to handle technology and tech policy in Australia. Lundy said the Commissioner’s role would be “a little bit analogous to the federal CIO in US, but broader as it involved public policy as well.”

In the following video, Senator Lundy talks about technology changing the relationship of citizens and government, the digital divide, Australia’s national broadband network, and more.

Senator Lundy on the pillars of Gov 2.0 in Australia

Senator Lundy delivered a keynote at Gov 2.0 Expo in which she described the core elements of redefining government through technology. According to Lundy: “The three pillars of Gov 2.0 are democratizing data, citizen-centric services and participatory democracy. Together, they each represent a necessary principle for achieving genuine open government.”

During the speech, Lundy indicated that a declaration of open government initiative was imminent, although she set no timeline.

After the conference in Washington, Lundy shared her reflections from Gov 2.0 Expo 2010, including a wealth of links to technology initiatives in Australia.

Nicholas Gruen on the Australia’s Government 2.0 task force

Australia’s federal government responded to the findings of its Government 2.0 task force and launched a new blog,, to help agencies get started with implementing open government. In the video below, task force head Nicholas Gruen discusses the group’s conclusions and how open government can lead to cost savings.

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