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Anne Stuart’s BPM in Action

Dennis Byron

Government in Flux: Transparency, Social Computing, and BPM

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I'm going to veer off my business-process-management (BPM)-specific, "software has no nationality" attitude a bit in this post because I find a disturbing trend in a wide variety of U.S.-government-related IT pronouncements of late. I'll make it my July 4th blog post a month early.

What bothers me is that the 1990ish "we invented the Internet" tack of the Clinton Administration has turned into "the Internet can re-invent government" tack of the current U.S. adminstration. I started thinking about this as I walked through the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock the week of May 25 and heard a lot of the material noted in the above linked Wikipedia article for the first time in years. This June 3 blog post on zdNet is a good summary of the dozens of different things I'm hearing from the current U.S. government that seem to pick up where the Clinton message left off.

The zdNet article is in no way the only place this spin is showing up. The old bald guy (I can say that; look at my picture) that now presides over the U.S-government-run General Motors (GM) announced at the bankruptcy press conference on June 1 that GM was going to be a better place because it was going to put all kinds of stuff -- undefined -- up on the web going forward. But to mix metaphors that deserve to be mixed in GM's case, you can' t drive that to the bank.

The Internet is not going to save GM. And no technology can change government for the better (some has changed it for the worse).

A government (any government) will only be as transparent as its citizens demand and politicians and bureacrats accede to. U.S citizens have progressively wanted to know less about their government over our 233-year history, not more. Our politicians and bureaucrats have obliged. Transparency is not going to make any difference as long as so few people look.

In terms of applying social computing technology, replacing the U.S. Postal Service with the Internet as a communications medium is really all that is happening. So a tweet replaces a post card. If you vote based on either communications medium, you get the government you deserve.

As for BPM, yes there is a little of the eGovernment variety going on. I can get my car registered over the net now. In some states you can vote. But in general, when you send a politician an email you get a form email back instead of a form letter. But when I both email and phone the Attorney General of Massachuetts about scandalous and surely illegal direct marketing aimed at bilking money from the elderly (I do qualify under the very relaxed rules of the AARP), I get no reponse and no action, just the same as if I had sent her a letter.

Bet I get an emailed campaign contribution request from her though when she runs for governor.

-- Dennis Byron

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Business process management and optimization -- philosophies, policies, practices, and punditry.

Anne Stuart

I am the editor of ebizQ.

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