The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) has raised concerns about the effectiveness of a new Federal Government digital economy blog in policy development.
This week, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, and Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Lindsay Tanner launched a joint blog to canvass public opinion on facets of the Rudd Government’s digital economy push.
AIIA CEO, Ian Birks, welcomed the use of leading-edge technology to help with the business of e-government but questioned the ability to garner tangible outcomes from an open and unstructured blog process.
“The science of how to convert many hundreds or thousands of free-form blog topics into a coherent base for developing specific components of public policy is not entirely proven,” Birks wrote in an email. “There is quite a lot of potential for input to policy development to be influenced and/or manipulated by anonymous contributors whose knowledge base and motives may not be entirely transparent.
“From the point of view of AIIA’s own specific dialogue with the Australian Government, we would like to see more transparency around the whole approach and understand more about how feedback from the online policy consultation blogs is intended to drive policy development.”
While existing policy consultation processes will remain, Birks said it was unclear how organisations such as the AIIA, which represents around 500 ICT companies, should work with the blog.
“Should we for example ask our members to write 500 different blog contributions as input on a specific policy matter or will an AIIA opinion somehow blend in other ways into the melting pot with similar effect,” he said. The blog is open to public comment for two weeks and is one of the first trials to be conducted by the Federal Government. It will be monitored by the Australian Government Information Management Office. The Australian Computer Society (ACS) president, Kumar Parakala, and head of consulting for analyst firm Intermedium, Kevin Noonan, both applauded the move by the government but cautioned its success was dependant on open and fair monitoring.