A photo of Kevin Lynch you wouldn't see unless you caught it in the Ottawa Citizen

A photo of Kevin Lynch you wouldn't see unless you caught it in the Ottawa Citizen

If you’re like me and you just adore news aggregators, you very likely have news alerts set up to help you with your media scans (or environmental scans). I’ve found them valuable to be informed of any news from the Privy Council Office (PCO), who set the overall direction and priorities for the whole public service, and especially speeches from the head of public service, Kevin Lynch.

This hasn’t worked too well.

Although I did come across some good gems of speeches from the PCO clerk, isntead I regularly get updated on the lives of a significant number of  other famous Kevin Lynchs, (mostly about the CTO of Adobe).  Because this isn’t very productive, I’ve realised I might as well just look up Kevin-Lynch periodically at Google News.  This isn’t very web 2.0, where in this instance the information comes to me, ad-hoc, as it happens. Instead it now falls under a regular reminder and out of my email box (and remains off my RSS readers).

I think the Privy Council Office, and it’s top support staff, Kevin Lynch, should start a blog. His office already has the content. He’s already stated he supports collaborative technology. In his last report he lauded NRCan: Technology for collaboration at Natural Resources Canada – The department has used state-of-the-art information and communications technology to promote collaborative approaches to work. Creative use of podcasting and blogs, and the experimental use of “wikis” in developing briefing notes are helping to break down silos, and engage younger employees.

-PCO Clerk Fifteenth Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada

In this newspaper article about Canada’s top Civil Servant, Privy Council Office Clerk Kevin Lynch gave a presentation about the state of the Canada’s public service (that it’s aging, still, and will retire in droves). The article writes that Lynch “has taken to regularly meeting with small groups in an effort to provide a glimpse of what the government is working on”.

I hope that PCO isn’t only talking with small groups to disseminate their message. Maybe they’re not and stated so. I just don’t know.  But if this is their strategy, I suggest perhaps it could be complemented, perhaps, with a blog or RSS feeds to update subscribers of new content, as they would be, as I have, from the reporting in newspapers of these small group presentations. I think PCO could do very well with a blog (even a very basic one). With a blog, the media, public servants, and the whole public can get the message directly, instead of filtered through a journalist’s assessment and recollection and interpretation of the events.

Currently Kevin Lynch has been effectively getting his message out over his website,  where there is an online index of speeches on his PCO Clerk website, but this isn’t the same. Just like with my periodic media scan, I need to check periodically, whereas an RSS feed “allows you to read through the news you want, at your convenience. By using the RSS reader of your choice or building the feed into your blog (or online personal journal), you can access the latest [GoC] news in your favourite environment” (link). With a blog, and hopefully more regular content, Kevin Lynch need not rely on media events or Parliament reporting dates for a platforum to speak to engaged public servants (and the public).

That’s right, if Kevin Lynch were to start up a blog tomorrow, the number of Government of Canada blogs would double.

The idea isn’t wild, I know, but currently (to my count) only one, count’em, one blog exists in the government, and that is the Privacy Commissioner blogThe Privacy Commissioner has a bit more leeway in having a blog, as it exists as an agent of parliament and has a responsibility to report to Parliament and keep Canadians informed. The applicable policies are different (and less restrictive), however it is reassuring and supporting that the Privacy Commissioner is on side and supportive of using Web 2.0 tools to better communicate with their target audience. If any other organisation within government is best placed to demonstrate leadership in this area for the rest of government, I would argue PCO is best suited for this.

If not, or at least for now, the government seems ready to go to keep everyone updated using RSS about any news that any organisation has to report, as you can see from this listing of (mostly empty) RSS feeds across the government:

While the PCO clerk continues to give “small groups a glimpse of what the government is working on”, the rest of us make guesswork from the lack of message from the centre and the top, having missed the specific article from the newspaper, or the report silently published on the PCO website.

And I’ll worry about wearing out my delete buttons as I sift through my news alerts emails. Hey, look at that, Adobe’s CTO Kevin Lynch is opening up the “Flash streaming protocol“. Yay. He should blog about it.

Next week: A template for Blog proposals, you can use and fill out. And the tools to give your demo, on my GC20 wiki. Stay tuned next week.