While Australia waits to see the shape of the projected Australian government consultation Web sites blog a new report from Quocirca concludes social networking can help public sector bodies achieve far greater interaction with citizens and resources.
But the report warns governments must implement policies to mediate social networking, and choose back-end technology carefully to ensure the non-computer owning citizen is not left behind.
As social networking tools become a core part of many individuals' day-to-day lives, Quocirca says the survey shows harnessing these tools as a means of interaction will increase constituency involvement with government at minimal cost.
The government has said it supports the use of new technologies to foster greater citizen participation in democratic processes
The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) has established a set of principles for ICT-enabled citizen engagement, developed in collaboration with cross-jurisdictional public sector community of practice group e-Democracy Community of Practice as part of the 2006 e-Government Strategy Responsive Government: A New Service Agenda.
It has also been exploring the development of an Australian government e-consultation forum to improve online citizen engagement and promote a consistent and appropriate experience for everyone participating in Australian government online consultation and engagement initiatives.
The first report on submissions provided to the public consultation on a proposed Australian Government Consultation Blog will be released shortly on the Web site.
The report provides a summary of the submissions received by the Department of Finance and Deregulation. This report will be used in conjunction with the results of offline consultation reports, surveys and focus groups to assess the public interest in consulting with government, and to identify the requirements and challenges for an Australian government consultation Web site.
Following full analysis of all relevant data, recommendations will be developed to propose a way forward for the use of consultation blogs in government. Further reports about this consultation process and its overall outcome will be made public as they become available.
The government has said it supports the use of new technologies to foster greater citizen participation in democratic processes.
The Quocirca report finds social networking tools fully capable of playing a part within a controlled, public sector/citizen communication and collaboration environment.
It says usability, standardization and availability have all improved. Proprietary interfaces are breaking down, and back-end standards are enabling consumer tools to interoperate with more commercial systems
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