For me, one of the most powerful memes of Government 2.0 is breaking down barriers between officialdom and the public. Like, why fight City Hall – you own it, don’t you?
In the past few days, I’ve had the humbling experience of having two friends name me as one of their favorite public servants. (As regular readers of my writings here and on Twitter may have picked up, I’m a local government employee among my many social roles.) This kind of praise goes a long way to validate what I’m trying to do with this blog, and many of my public activities. I want to help restore trust in an honest, innovative and effective public sector.
And right here I know what some of you are thinking. Yes, I do have to wait in the same postal and DMV lines as you. I do my own taxes, very carefully, and I know the same pain of crushing bureaucracy. And ultimately, I believe we have allowed a system to get ahead of the people, just in the way that we’ve allowed corporate greed and a complacent regulatory system to cripple our economy.
Today, I read an interesting white paper from the Partnership for Public Service and Gallup, “In the Public We Trust,” from November 2008. A survey by the two organizations found strong public support for only the U.S. military, and the numbers fell quickly to near single digit percentages for the job government is doing in areas like immigration and protecting the financial system (uh, yeah!).
Interestingly, the survey also found that 52 percent of 25 to 34 year olds had recently used the Web to access federal services. People who had accessed government services recently were more likely to have a positive opinion of those services than those who’d not used them, while only seven percent of could remember having heard a positive story about the government in the media.
This long-winded intro leads to my point: I want to win back your trust. One person at a time. I’m out here in cyberspace, talking, because I want you to know this.
I believe in Lincoln’s “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” We are all in this together, and the second I forget that is the day I need to leave public service. Because if I’m not part of the solution, I’m part of the problem.