For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.
(H. L. Mencken)
Report prepared for the GovNet 03 organizing committee, June 2003
This report presents the results of an evaluation of the Government on the Net 03 Conference. It is based on participant comments gathered through more than 1,200 session-specific feedback report cards and some 88 post-conference Web questionnaires; exhibitor comments collected through self-administered questionnaires; and, views of some 372 non-participants who are members of the target groups and who completed a Web survey.
- Overall, participants were satisfied with their experience.
- The conference format may be becoming dated; smaller sessions and practical workshops are perceived to provide more value.
- Key areas for improvement focus on content:
- improve speakers familiarity with the federal government issues and practices — delegates expect that presenters will speak to their problems;
- raise the content strength and focus on emerging issues — some presentations were basic and some content was simple rehash;
- increase the discussion of technical issues, best practices and success stories — often opposed to "philosophical" debates.
- Suggested process improvement include:
- merger with other federal conferences to increase content load and reduce the number of requests for professional development within delegates' organizations;
- handouts on site and presentations on the Web site,
- clarify the language of presentation before hand.
- The composition of the delegate pool is shifting away from policy analysts and program managers toward individuals with IM/IT positions: more than one third of delegates held positions directly related to the Internet compared to one in five in 2001 whereas representation from policy analysts and program managers decreased by a factor of two.
- Attendance has dropped by some 33% between 2001 and 2003.
- Exhibitors were generally satisfied but attendance was an issue.
- Emphasize smaller sessions and practical workshops even more than is the case now.
- Because some organizations limit access to "conferences" but have looser rules concerning "professional development" events, re-label GovNet as a professional development event rather than a conference.
- Invest in the development of on-line archives.
- Clearly define the target clientele (is it IM/IT personnel or program/policy analysts or some other group?).
- Market according to the target clientele (identify themes and approaches relevant to the chosen target clientele, and promote to them that group in particular).
- Review the communications program to better reach non-participants.
- Develop marketing plans specifically to increase return delegates.
- Maintain/reassert the focus on emerging issues (as opposed to technical issues that can be studied elsewhere) with a clear emphasis on the federal government.
- Develop the program according to the target clientele.
- If the exhibition component is to be repeated, build the program to increase attendance; in particular, make the exhibition available during workshops which attract a different pool of individuals.
- Reconsider whether the exhibition component is worth the effort considering the value derived by delegates.
- Ensure that workshop presenters tailor their presentation to the reality of federal public servants.
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