The New York Times has an article about Government agencies feeling the pressure to be "hip and social" with all this wacky Web 2.0 technology. The article itself provides some really great quotes.
Like this one...
“We have a Facebook page,” said one official of the Department of Homeland Security. “But we don’t allow people to look at Facebook in the office. So we have to go home to use it. I find this bizarre.”
There are many other procedures at government agencies that aren’t just tradition, they are the law.
For example, the mostly harmless feature of Facebook that allows users to specify their religious and political views, may run afoul of the Privacy Act. That law prevents the government from using the site because a provision in the Privacy Act bans it from keeping records related to how people exercise their first amendment rights.
and this one...
Speaking of the First Amendment, one person asked, does the government have the right to remove offensive comments on a blog or social network page? And if it does, must it keep copies of the deleted material under the Federal Records Act and provide them to people making Freedom of Information Act Requests? Yes, it can remove comments that violate posted policies about decency and so on, and yes, it must keep them for a specified time, other participants said.
and finally this one...
Peter Swire, a former government privacy official who now teaches law at Ohio State University, raised another question: anti-corruption law prevents federal officials from receiving gifts of goods and services. Does that prevent an agency from using software or services available free on the Web?
That alone is worth the blog post. But I do have a point and it's this: The "Web 2.0" mentality being referred to here is all about transparency. But you need to ask yourself: Why do we want transparency?
In the real world we want transparency because it allows us to have an impact on things that matter to us. If Scott Guthrie has a blog with comments I can tell him what I don't like about ASP.NET and maybe he'll get his people to fix it. That's what is great about transparency.
But Government isn't the real world.
Government is a place where no one in the actual organization is setting the rules for or making the decisions about the organization. Government decisions are made by policy makers a.k.a. your representatives. Meaning these Government organizations can have all the transparency in the world and it won't do anyone a bit of good.
In my opinion, you really only need two things from your Government to have the ideal.
1. You need an easy way to get feedback to and hear from your representative. I think Senators who tweet are great (though I'd prefer they blog so we could get some actual worthwhile thoughts out of them).
2. You need to see what policies are being set and what money is being spent. I think making government agencies syndicate how they spend money is a great idea.
Beyond that though, there's no real point. Maybe someone at the CIA or Military can find an interesting way to recruit from Facebook, and that's great. But those will be individual cases and I don't need or want to be informed of them.
Bottom Line: as a citizen I'm happy to let the black box of Government stay closed as long as I know exactly what goes in and what comes out of it.
Addendum: One last point. Even if you do get transparency in these types of agencies you won't really have it. Because there are so many rules of conduct that people are afraid to say anything honest for fear they'll violate code #xj19702 (or whatever). So they'll parse their words until their intended blog post becomes the "government speak" filled press releases we get now.