IT community of practice a scary proposition for some

Prime Minister Paul Martin might not know a lot about IT, but he does know a thing or two about governance, which is a hot topic for IT types these days. Martin, who has been invited to open this year’s GTEC event, had not confirmed his presence at press time.

But there are plenty of other interesting

presentations and sessions to attend, starting with Helen McDonald, Ottawa’s acting CIO. Following McDonald, Ken Cochrane, chief executive of Public Works and Government Services Canada’s Information Technology Services Branch, will give a special keynote discussing Ottawa’s efforts to build a common shared-services organization for IT services.

Preparing for shared services was one goal of the information governance plan implemented at Natural Resources Canada over the past two years. Rita Moritz, director general of the department’s information management branch, says that as a science-based department, NRCan manages a variety of information from electronic data to physical artifacts. The department has tried to create a consistent approach to this based on what it calls a stewardship model. In her presentation, titled Innovative information governance @ NRCan, Moritz will discuss some of the lessons learned.

On Oct. 19, Dave Mee, director of the customer relations branch of the Shared Services Bureau in Ontario’s Management Board Secretariat, will describe how Ontario supports communities of practice through a government-wide portal. About 80,000 public servants have access to the portal, Mee says, and its features include online communities that let people with common interests share ideas. Current communities of practice include a human resources community, a knowledge management community and one for administrators. An IT community could be coming, Mee adds. He will outline how the communities were built and some tools that make them work.

Elisabeth Richard, director of e-government partnerships in the IT services branch of Public Works and Government Services Canada, will give a presentation titled Online moderation and facilitation: The role of public servants. Richard says the Internet permits small discussion groups of interested parties from the private sector and non-governmental organizations to participate in policy discussions, but there are pitfalls. “”It’s an environment that often fosters extreme views,”” Richard says. “”It can be a scary environment for a public servant that’s trained to be very neutral and very factual in their information.””

The Internet is essentially a publishing medium, she adds, creating a public record of discussions of which there might not have been a record before. Richard’s group provides information on online discussion tools and techniques for civil servants. At GTEC, she aims to illustrate how the online medium can be used and the roles that civil servants can play in online discussions.

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Grant Buckler
Grant Buckler
Freelance journalist specializing in information technology, telecommunications, energy & clean tech. Theatre-lover & trainee hobby farmer.

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