AGIMO blog attracts praise but also doubt


The Australian Government Information Management Office has attracted a mixed response to its new blog launched this week, with some visitors to the site praising it, but some expressing doubt about the Government’s real commitment to open government or using it to vent their frustrations with the Gershon report and other controversial matters.

The maiden public post on May 3rd by Ann Steward, Federal Government chief information officer, has attracted 18 commentsat the time of writing.

“Great work and congratulations all around … has to be a step in the right direction and a platform which has the potential to host valuable and robust discussions,” wrote Martin Stewart-Weeks, who appears to be a former government staffer with significant senior experience.

“The Australian Information Industry Association and its members welcome this positive initiaitive from AGIMO and look forward to continued open and progressive dialogue between the ICT industry and the Federal Government agencies,” wrote Ian Birks, chief executive of the organisation.

However, other posters took AGIMO to task on various issues — such as one by Nathanael Boehm, a former government contractor.

“Having been made redundant thanks to Gershon last year and going across to the private sector, I’m looking forward to govt re-thinking its approach to implementing Gershon’s recommendations that actually achieve those objectives … otherwise govt will end up losing all its $90p/h contractors and having to bring them back as $200p/h consultants,” he wrote. “Doesn’t quite make sense … it’s neither cost effective, sustainable or good knowledge management. Keen to see what comes of the ICT Framework & Capabilities work from the ICT Strategic Workforce Plan …”

A commenter named ‘Nigel’ wrote: “Having been through the Gershon days, a year on and the department I work for is trying to spend money hand over fist. Gone are the days of impositions of a limit of contractors of 7.50 hours a day, rates increases and removal of 20 percetn of the cream of the crop.”

“Government, ICT Contracting and the whole finance management of it is a debacle that should have been addressed as a priority rather than the Gershon report — that after a year of hype, everything is back to normal.”

A comment posted by Scott Davies in regards to the entry “Reponse to the Governments 2.0 Report” criticised AGIMO for not getting the basics right. “Many of the RSS feeds offered by the Federal Government are completely incorrect, and do not meet the base RSS specifications, especially as regards the pubDate entity. It’s a bit difficult to believe anything said about moving forward, when the government is unable to get very simple basics such as this correct,” he wrote.

Congratulations to the Taskforce and the Government for moving towards an ‘open government’ policy,” wrote Clayton Wehner of Blue Train Enterprises. “The big task lies ahead — convincing some of the more bureaucratic and security-conscious government agencies (and perhaps those that have skeletons in the closet) that open engagement and transparency is in Australia’s best interests,” he added.

“I think it’s a great first step and I hope that the recommendations are widely adopted by government agencies.”

Yesterday the blog posted a call for test participants to help improve the site and AGIMO’s Web Guide. Participants must live in Canberra, be involved in the development of government websites, Australian Government employee and able to get offsite for up to 2 hrs. This time offsite is used to attend a focus group on the Web Guide.

Long-time Canberra-based IT consultant Tom Worthington pointed out that he had attended one such focus group. “I attended a previous consultation about the guide, as I teach web design at the ANU. But the focus group format was a little too much like an an episode from the ABC TV comedy The Hollowmen,” he wrote.

AGIMO blog entries date back to 13 October 2009. The first is titled “Hello World” by Gordon of AGIMO’s Web Team.

A visitor to the site, Jimi Bostock, suggested back in November 2009 to a post in October that the AGIMO bloggers reveal themselves more and become more personable.

“I would like to get to know him better. Same would go for you Anne. Who are you really? What have you picked up on the way since we met all those years ago in the UK Cabinet Office. Tell us. You see, in absence of hard data, us leather jackets will just make up our own minds,” he wrote.

He went on to suggest to invite guest bloggers to contribute to the site, “You may also want to consider the really big leap and invite guest bloggers to the table. That would be an amazing message out to the agencies. That would really flesh out the engagement,” he said.

What do you think of AGIMO’s blog? A good step forward, or do you still have concerns?

Image credit: Screenshot by Delimiter


  1. I reckopn the blog is an excellent, and sustainable, step forward.

    I can appreciate why people question whether there is a commitment to the approach. Every time an organisation goes online in a new way they are held up to intense scrutiny, often having people ask – are they genuine? are they authentic? is this just a ploy?

    The proof will be in whether AGIMO can sustain the blog over time, encouraging active engagement and dealing with the inevitable criticism and ‘testing’.



    • I agree, Craig — it is certainly a laudable initiative. I have no doubt that as younger and more technologically savvy people gradually enter the public service and rise to positions of power, that the attitude there towards Web 2.0 and Open Government will continue to improve.

      My interpretation of what you’re saying is that the question is really … how fast will this happen? And is the AGIMO blog an important signpost along the way, or just a small step that history will forget? Whenever a new blog or new website of any kind is setup, it always receives an initial rush of interest. But to maintain that over the long term — that is perhaps the much harder thing. It requires sustained effort and someone whose responsibility it is to do so.

      I’m not sure whether this will be the case with the AGIMO blog — but early signs are encouraging.

  2. I am typically to blogging and i actually appreciate your content. The article has actually peaks my interest. I’m going to bookmark your web site and hold checking for new information.

Comments are closed.