Yes, the government is as bad at organising information as you think.

October 27, 2021
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I have always been a productivity-nerd. Whether it was obsessing over the palm-pilot, converting to the cult of inbox zero or my devout dedication to Getting Things Done (GTD for those on the inside), there is one fundamental principle of most productivity systems. It is all about separating the proactive from the reactive. It forces you to think about what you want to achieve instead of dealing reactively with endless phone calls and message notifications.

As a former political staffer, I know that the proactive is often crowded out by reactive responses to MPs, media and published polling that day. When it comes to gathering intel on MPs and departments, it's a bit like drinking from a firehose - any attempt at a proactive approach goes out the window, and we mostly end up Googling "issue" alongside an MP's name right before a meeting. Despite working for a Premier, Federal Treasurer, Ministers and countless political campaigns over the last ten years, the approach in government to intel gathering is no different in government as it is in the private sector - it's a dog's breakfast. 

The truth is, government (and Parliament) is really bad at organising information. Let's take an example: You want to reach out to every Health Minister in Australia about an issue affecting your organisation. Because of our federated system, no list exists which means painstakingly navigating every State and Territory Parliament website. Then you're faced with uniformity issues (e.g: is it The Hon, or The Honorable?, Is the electorate office address the right one?) 

A few years ago, I participated in Hackathon, and our team developed a straightforward way to search Hansard. It turned out the Parliament's Hansard search had not been upgraded since the '90s. No logical framework (proactive or reactive) can handle the information coming out of this antiquated system.

That's why I was so excited to meet Cooper and the team at GovConnex. With a small, fired up engineering team, Cooper is changing the way government information is organised. If an issue you care about (or your organisation) is mentioned in Parliament, media release, Twitter or even a random Senate Committee - you will be alerted in real-time. 

The way this team is organising data and turning it into useful information is awe-inspiring, and that's why I decided to join GovConnex as Head of Customer Success and Insights. 

My job is to help users achieve their pro-active goals relating to government and better handle the reactive onslaught of information. Putting together that logical framework that was previously impossible. 

I will also provide (via this blog) a few handy tools to assist political nerds, MPs and organisations (like an electoral calendar + some cool maps), as well as pointing to game-changing electoral analysis/bloggers (e.g. Ben Raue and Kevin Bonham to name two). 

After ten years working in politics, I am excited to assist others to navigate it.

Michael Evangelidis is a former Director to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, and now the Head of Customer Success and Insights at GovConnex


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