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Journal Article

Oxygen Government Practices  pp177-190

Mary Griffiths

© Jan 2008 Volume 5 Issue 2, ECEG 2007, Editor: Frank Bannister, pp95 - 224

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Abstract

How well are government intranets modelling the participatory protocols needed to develop the skills for effective government‑citizen engagement? Does the inclusion of social media forms and user‑generated content (chat, collaboration work, content sharing) add or detract value from the interactive online space at work? This paper presents work on a small Australian case study drawn from a comparative study of e‑participation projects within government in Australia and New Zealand. This paper focuses on the development of, and everyday practices in, a password‑only, subscription‑based intranet Oxygen, which has been operating since December 2006 in the South Australian public service. Specially developed through funding gained in an internally‑competitive round, Oxygen is designed by, and for, a specific demographic of young media‑savvy professionals. The research includes initial interviews with managers, intranet peer‑managers, online observation of the 'virtual village' conducted at periods throughout 2007, data collected from Oxygen's external site‑builders, and an analysis of logins and page hits. A user‑questionnaire was emailed to selfselecting Oxygen subscribers. In its use of dedicated pages and protocols for social networking, the government intranet demonstrates that, in targeted demographics, the peer‑management of online space can further develop existing professional behaviours, and encourage new collaborative ones which have the potential to be transformative of peer and manager attitudes to leadership, cooperation and the reinvention of organisational behaviour within the service. The research also assesses the popular features of the intranet's design, and the most successful peer‑practices, in order to gauge their potential transferability to e‑participation protocols and projects in interactive citizen‑government domains.

 

Keywords: peer-managed intranets, e-participation, UGC, transferability, civic domains, online protocols, virtual village

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 5 Issue 2, ECEG 2007 / Dec 2007  pp95‑224

Editor: Frank Bannister

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Editorial

This issue contains a selection of the best papers from the 2007 European Conference on e‑Government which took place in The Hague . Our host was Den Haagse Hogeschool, which is housed in a building which can best be described as a series of large ellipses piled on top of one another. Finding a given room on a given level involved a decision as to whether to go clockwise or anticlockwise round this structure and there was plenty of empirical evidence of the validity of the *buttered toast law as the later one was for a presentation, the more likely one seemed to be to go the longer way around.

As usual with this issue, there are a large number of articles and they come from many countries. A number of contributors consider various aspects of government portals and on‑line services. Aykut Arslan looks at the impact of ICT on local government in Turkey , concluding that although progress has been made, there is much to be done, especially in moving beyond efficiency to broader goals of inclusion and democracy. On the other side of the continent, Karin Furuli and Sigrun Kongsrud compare and contrast government portals in Demark and Norway . The framework that they develop for doing this may be of interest to other researchers and has wide potential application. In their article, Ralph Feenstra, Marijn Janssen and René Wagenaar (who sadly died in 2007), examine the question of composition methods for web based government services where there are multiple actors. Composition is the process of combining several services (usually from different suppliers) necessary for the completion of a single task and evaluating methods of doing this is non trivial. Regina Connolly's article focuses on the factors that influence the take up and effectiveness of Ireland 's Revenue Online Service tax payment system and provides several useful insights that could be applied elsewhere. Alea Fairchild and Bruno de Vuyst consider another aspect of government service, the Belgian Government Interoperability Framework (BELGIF) and look at the problems of interoperability in a country with its own particular administrative and political complexities.

Document management is a topic that to date has received little attention in the e‑government literature. Two papers here contribute to making up for this deficiency. For anybody who would like a primer as well as an interesting model, the article by Raphael Kunis, Gudula Rünger and Michael Schwind is an informative read. Mitja Decman also considers the matter of government documents, this time from the perspective of archiving and long term storage. As well as being another good overview of the issues involved, the case for having confidence in such forms of storage is well argued.

The conference has always attracted a number of contributions on electronic voting and e‑democracy In their article, Orhan and Deniz Cetinkaya give a sweeping overview of e‑voting, arguing that there is sometimes a lack of clarity in terminology and suggesting that appropriate levels of verification and validation should be applied to e‑voting in different situations. Mark Liptrott's article on e‑voting presents a rather different perspective, examining the successes and failures of the 2003 e‑voting experiment in the UK . His conclusion is that government will need to be proactive and learn the lessons of Roger's diffusion theory if it is going to get widespread public acceptance of this technology. In a different part of the e‑democracy forest, Jenny Backhouse arrives as a somewhat similar conclusion, that engagement with e‑democracy in Australia seeks unlikely to break out spontaneously with given models. Using analogies from e‑business, she concludes, however, that e‑democracy is here to stay whether we like it or not!

Finally, two papers with broader themes. Albert Meijer opens his article with the provocative question; “Are all countries heading for similar political systems in the information age?” He then looks at this question using empirical research in the USA and The Netherlands which suggests that convergence is not happening in quite the way some expect. Mary Griffiths looks at something quite different, the South Australian Oxygen programme (designed to connect the X and Y generations) which seeks to equip young people for civil engagement via electronic media. The results of this experiment are refreshingly positive and again, as in other articles in this issue, there are lessons for a wider world.

 

Keywords: archiving, Australia, Borger.dk, citizen portal, collaboration, diffusion, digital archive, digital preservation, document management systems, document processing, e-administration, e-business model, e-democracy, e-government security, electronic data, electronic record management, e-municipality, e-participation, e-Turkey, evaluation, e-voting, hierarchical government processes, institutional differences, interoperability, multi-actor networks, Mypage, online public services, outsourcing, peer-managed intranets, pilot scheme, political accountability, Protocols, public policy process, public value, quality of service, record keeping, SERVQUAL, social value, standards, taxation, Transferability, trust, Turkish e-governments, Turkish local governments, UGC, validation, verification, virtual village, web service composition

 

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