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Talk from citizen advocate on open source principles being used in government. Skip forward to about 13:10 mark:
Government is made of people, and when you find someone [in government] who is doing good work, you need to reward them… we need to be talking about it… hold these successes up – let people know that government people are not lazy and they’re not stupid. They’re just constrained by a broken system.
Then at around 13:38:
Let [government] people fail – as long as they’re small failures. If someone has a clever idea… give them $1 million dollars to go try that idea out, and if it doesn’t work? Oh well, now we know it doesn’t work. It can’t be that every time a program in the government fails or goes off the rails or goes over budget that it ends up on the front page of the Washington Post. That’s a bad set of incentives. We’re all in this together and we should be helping each other.
OK, so don’t get bogged down in the $1M figure — the point is that government tends not to develop its programs and services in modular, iterative fashion. And that maybe it should.
More importantly, interested citizens and government should be reaching out across the chasm that has separated them. Here in Canada, I see action on the citizen side (example: transparency movement), but considerably less so on the bureaucracy side. But I do see signs of things changing (example: copyright consultations).