Saturday, March 03, 2007

A Couple of Thoughts about Governance – Thought Two…Across Government

Everyone who knows me or who has read prior blog entries knows I am a strong advocate of cross-government web governance. I think it’s absolutely the right thing to do and the only way to achieve the quality web content that the public (aka – taxpayers) deserve. But I do think getting from where we are to a successful cross-government governance structure is tricky. Why? Because we’re going to be moving from the current (and long-standing) grassroots governance structure to a centralized governance structure. And existing grassroots leaders – often agency web managers – aren’t going to be eager to give up their autonomy. I’ve been there – I know. So the key is to use that leadership within the cross-agency structure.

“Well, of course,” you think. “That’s what the Web Managers Advisory Council is for.” Yes, the Advisory Council is an important part of this process. But I don’t think it’s enough to effect the kind of change in governance I hope for.

I’ve already written that I think GSA’s Office of Citizen Services should be given the lead – and the authority – to coordinate web content operations across government. If GSA is given that role, they need to implement it with great thought and complete understanding of what they’re undertaking. In my opinion, the first thing they need to do is hire a few of those experienced agency web managers – those grassroots leaders. Get those skills and that perspective on the staff. Build goodwill. Further, it would be great to rotate agency web managers through the Office of Citizen Services routinely, to keep the agency perspective fresh within the Office of Citizen Services and to give agency web managers a taste of the big picture point of view.

Four years ago, when we formed the Web Content Management Working Group, we agreed that how we went about developing our recommendations to OMB was as critical as what we recommended. We knew we had to involve all the key players - in a meaningful way - and listen to all the key constituencies or – no matter what we recommended and no matter what OMB said – change wouldn’t happen. The same concept applies here. The only way cross-government governance will work is to seize the power of the existing grassroots leadership and incorporate it in the new governance structure.

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