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Why Don't Government Agencies Ask?

Following up from How Will You Know It Works? Ask Those That Use It! this popped into the reader, How much would your department pay for a 10% improvement in customer satisfaction?:
Every agency struggles to provide the best possible outcomes and customer service with the resources they are given. However few departments or agencies look outside for help - even to other government bodies.

Yep, the answer is to ask :
The article, If you liked this, sure to like that, discusses how Netflix's programmers had gone as far as they could with their available resources and skills, so the company decided to make a large slice of their information available publicly (anonymised to protect privacy) and see where others could take it.

So how about it NZ Government agencies, why not let go a but and ask.
And we know you can :-)
This isn't just a pipe dream. The UK government is running a competition at the moment, asking the public to come up with innovative ways to use government data to add value. The US and Japanese Patent Boards are piloting having the public examine patents and provide views before they are granted and New Zealand had the public write the Police Wiki Act 2007 (on how the police are to act towards the public).
(my emphasis)


  1. Hi Mike,
    Whether one buys the idea of open source or not, the "many eyes" principle has always struck me as sensible. In government's case, we need to ensure ears are open to hear what the eyes have seen. Social media can act as the mouth (and Mike you have done exactly that here, proposing that government could do better).

    Proactive seeking of customers' negative experiences (bugs) happens rarely in the private sector, and almost never in the public sector. Perhaps this made sense in a pre-social media age. In this day and age, it is remarkable easy to set-up web feeds to at least hear mentions of your organisation/services/products across the web.

    I recognise this is still not going out and asking, but it is a start. It is a brave individual who invites criticism.

  2. Totally agree Matt.

    I suspect, though, the issue is far deeper than tolset ability (which, to be fair is not what you're advocating but many do).

    If there are, currently, no strong connections between people working in similar areas (say GIS in Health talking with GIS people in Corrections) how are tools gonna help?

    What I see, in my simplistic view of the world, is the Government being driven by the org chart - if it's NZ Govt Ltd then everyone sticks to their own departments and teams. Maybe biffing that and having people work in "areas of expertise" (or something) would help?



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