Use of GitHub in Public Administration in Canada: Interview Questions

Use of GitHub in Public Administration in Canada: Open Innovation in Code, Web and Prose

Telephone or web video interviews were conducted with five Government of Canada public servants, two of whom had direct connection to the use of GitHub as a collaborative tool in government and three of whom were senior public service executives with experience and interest in pan-organizational collaboration and collaborative tools and who were identified by colleagues as being at the forefront in promoting new technologies to enhance knowledge sharing and collaboration in government. Initial interview candidates were identified based on our sample described above, with additional candidates identified using snowball methods where interviewees suggesting additional candidates (Babbie 2012). While we connected with public servants in provincial governments, no one from orders of government other than the federal level agreed to be interviewed.

Each interview was scheduled for thirty minutes, with both authors participating as interviewers. The interviews were not recorded, though each of the interviewers kept close hand-written and keyboarded notes during the interview, and a common record was added to by both immediately following the interviews and a post-interview discussion between the authors. The interview protocol below served to guide the discussions. We explored perceptions and experiences on the questions of open collaboration and innovation within government, on efforts to open governance beyond the confines of government and on new forms of collaboration technology with a specific focus on the GitHub platform.

Interview Guide

1. Impressions of open collaboration and innovation

Reference to record of the respondent’s government and department with respect to open collaboration and innovation; what was the underlying philosophy or motivation for moving from traditional hierarchical models of the public service to a collaborative and open model?

Follow-up probes:

  • What have been the positive impacts of this move?
  • Have their been challenges or barriers to operationalizing this move or to achieving the desired impacts?
  • What advice would you give a colleague embarking on a similar move?

2. Impressions of open governance

Reference to record of the respondent’s government and department with respect to open governance; what was the underlying philosophy or motivation for moving from closed public sector models to an open model?

Follow-up probes:

  • What have been the positive impacts of this move?
  • Have the public / outside actors responded?
  • Have their been challenges or barriers to operationalizing this move or to achieving the desired impacts?
  • Has their been political and senior executive support for this?

3. Use of collaboration technology

What examples of collaboration technology have you experimented with?

Follow-up probes:

  • What is your impression of these experiments? Have they been effective in yielding positive results?
  • What are some of the benefits?
  • What are some of the barriers?

4. Use of GitHub and similar vcs technologies

Reference to record of the respondent’s government and department with respect to GitHub or similar vcs; what was the underlying philosophy or motivation for this adoption?

Follow-up probes:

  • What prompted the move to these new models?
  • Have these innovations been effective?
  • What have been some of the challenges?
  • Can you envision new uses for these technologies – e.g., for open governance and public engagement on policy development?
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One comment on “Use of GitHub in Public Administration in Canada: Interview Questions

  1. Pingback: Using GitHub in Government: A Look at a New Collaboration Platform | Justin Longo, phd

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