Australian Government Consultation Blog Discussion PaperAs a blogging evangelist and former public servant and later a consultant to governments, I was more than interested to receive yesterday an email alerting me to the publication by the Australian Government of a discussion paper about a proposed government blog.

The Australian Government Consultation Blog Discussion Paper is, as the name implies, an invitation to public discussion about the potential value for government and the community in having a government “consultation blog”, what such a blog might contain, how it would be managed and so on.

The paper is available as a downloadable PDF and you can also read it on the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) website.

The paper provides some background on “the new internet environment”, covering the evolution in the way people communicate online and spelling out some challenges for government in seeking to participate more fully in this environment.

Some key “features” are proposed for the blog:

  • providing information about a consultation;
  • responding to a consultation;
  • people telling others about the consultation;
  • finding a consultation.

And challenges are listed, including the challenge of comment moderation – some draft moderation guidelines are included.

I’ve trawled around the web for some months, looking for information about government initiatives with blogging and have been in no way overwhelmed with results. I don’t know of any other document quite like this, which looks seriously at the possibilities and challenges for a blog set up by government for the specific purpose of facilitating community involvement in government decision-making.

Corporations and blogging consultants could also find the document useful, especially in its canvassing of some of the issues of blog comment and forum moderation.

With an Australian Federal election in the offing, there is of course a chance that this paper could disappear without a trace. That would be a pity. The possibilities and challenges outlined are not framed in any party-political partisan way and the discussion which hopefully will ensue should be of interest to any contemporary government which is committed to more than lip-service about public consultation and involvement of the citizenry in decision-making.

Nor is the paper narrowly focused on Australia. The issues canvassed here and suggested ways forward would be usefully examined by any democratic government.

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