It’s this weekend and I will be blogging about it next week. But if you want to follow the action then the hashtag is #youngrewiredstate (so tweets will be short!) also #yrs, for the bleeding edge amongst you the identica link is here http://identi.ca/group/youngrewiredstate and one of our young developers is live blogging here http://www.scribblelive.com/Event/Rewired_State
There have been two publications this week that have caught my attention, and I have been a bit surprised by the lack of reaction to them. The first was from the Cabinet Office Strategy Unit, entitled Power in people’s hands: learning from the world’s best public services and the second from the Lords Information Committee on creating connections between people and Parliament.
Power in people’s hands
This is a very interesting report, driven by the fact that there is just not a great deal of money about and a recognition that the way out of any recession is innovation. This is good news for everyone, it means we are going to get creative. Liam Byrne MP writes the foreword and says that ‘in the next decade we need to be radical about power; realistic about money; and relentless on innovation’. The report has shown that there is a worldwide shift of power from the State to the citizen, but what excites me most is that Mr Byrne has picked out freedom of information and data to be the UK’s pièce de résistance : ‘We aim to be world leaders in making information on services accessible’. OK his words are not quite so dramatic, but in Ministerial speak that is quite a statement, the stall he has set out is the information one – and that is a huge win for the UK. We have a wealth of entrepreneurial and geek talent ready and willing to take such information and help create services that work at hyper-local and individual level. (You might just have to trust me on this one).
I suggest you skim read the whole report, but I am just going to cut and paste the bits that jumped out for me below if you need further convincing:
Overall, the importance of public services is likely to grow rather than diminish. For example, sources of increasing wealth creation – such as the emerging low-carbon, life science and pharmaceutical, and digital industries – will create new opportunities. But every person, and the country as a whole, will only have the potential to benefit fully if they have access to excellent schools, training and employment services.
… stepping up the drive to improve value for money by taking hard decisions on priorities as needs change, redesigning services, sharing assets better and cutting bureaucracy.
And for you working in local government and devolved: more exciting news, this does recognise you are the front-liners:
In considering lessons, it is also important to recognise that the public services that are covered in this study are delivered by the Devolved Administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and by local authorities. It will be for these bodies to consider the most appropriate insights. At a time of necessary innovation, however, the best organisations look outward – for practices which can be replicated and to spark new ideas and challenge existing ways of thinking.
Here is the bit that interests me most, Chapter Two expands and I recommend that you read all of it if the following interests you slightly:
Empowering citizens in the information age
A revolution in the use and re-use of information on public services is being stimulated by new online technologies, giving the potential to empower citizens to hold services to account far more easily than in the past. The leading-edge systems, such as StateoftheUSA.org and data.gov, are not only disseminating information rapidly. They are also breaking down government monopolies on information presentation and use by making it easy for people to analyse information themselves. At the same time, blogs, wikis and other web 2.0 tools are enabling citizens to get more deeply involved in validating information and collectively making decisions. In Cologne, for example, participatory budgeting uses new technology to give citizens a stronger voice over how public money is spent.
The shift required for governments to enable such changes is cultural as much as technical. It is no coincidence that American public services have been at the forefront of these changes, for they already had an understanding that all government information should be in the public domain. Government should, however, do more than just liberate information. The global leaders will be those who invest in ensuring that information is high-quality and balanced, can be shared through common standards and facilitates joint working by professionals and citizens.
Fascinated yet? Whole report here.
So Cabinet Office is saying it needs to get revolutionary on us… and now Parliament, specifically the House of Lords, agrees. For those of you not clear about the role of Parliament and the role of the Cabinet, let me grab some explanations for you: can’t use my own words as I may explain it wrong, so forgive the use of even more quotes.
The Cabinet Office aims to ensure that the Government delivers its priorities. It does this by supporting collective consideration of key issues by Cabinet and its Ministerial Committees, and by working with departments to modernise and co-ordinate government, aiming at excellence in policy making and responsive, high quality public services.
Parliament is an essential part of UK politics. Its main roles are:
- Examining and challenging the work of the government (scrutiny)
- Debating and passing all laws (legislation)
- Enabling the government to raise taxes
*more detail on Parliament here
And so the fact that the House of Lords has come to a similar conclusion about its own work is equally as important.
Creating connections between people and Parliament
The report has been written by the Information Committee which ‘considers the House’s information and communications services’. The report has the tagline: are the Lords listening; and if you read my explanation of the difference between Parliament and Cabinet then perhaps it is important to us that they are. The report is in such an easy to use format that it negates the need for me to pull out the interesting bits. Go and read it here it seriously is a very important report. You could just read Chapters 3 and 4 if like me you are most interested in communication and data, but I don’t recommend it (read it all!).
And of course, always the best bit, the list of recommendations:
- Actions arising from our recommendationsActions the Committee has already taken:
Especially good is this one:
“We recommend that information and documentation related to the core work of the House of Lords (including Bills, Hansard, transcripts of public committee meetings, evidence submitted to committees, committee reports, records of divisions, expenses and the register of Lords’ interests) should be produced and made available online in an open standardised electronic format that enables people outside Parliament to analyse and re-use the data.“
I am not sure that I need to conclude this post other than to say I hope that I have helped you find two very interesting reports! And apologies if I bored you…
Possibly not immediately, but in a few months time when the furore has calmed down around the inauguration. Macon is the Director of New Media for the White House, and wrote the first blog post on the new White House website. Here is a bit of it:
Communication — Americans are eager for information about the state of the economy, national security and a host of other issues. This site will feature timely and in-depth content meant to keep everyone up-to-date and educated. Check out the briefing room, keep tabs on the blog (RSS feed) and take a moment to sign up for e-mail updates from the President and his administration so you can be sure to know about major announcements and decisions.
Transparency — President Obama has committed to making his administration the most open and transparent in history, and WhiteHouse.gov will play a major role in delivering on that promise. The President’s executive orders and proclamations will be published for everyone to review, and that’s just the beginning of our efforts to provide a window for all Americans into the business of the government. You can also learn about some of the senior leadership in the new administration and about the President’s policy priorities.
Participation — President Obama started his career as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago, where he saw firsthand what people can do when they come together for a common cause. Citizen participation will be a priority for the Administration, and the internet will play an important role in that. One significant addition to WhiteHouse.gov reflects a campaign promise from the President: we will publish all non-emergency legislation to the website for five days, and allow the public to review and comment before the President signs it.
We’d also like to hear from you — what sort of things would you find valuable from WhiteHouse.gov? If you have an idea, use this form to let us know. Like the transition website and the campaign’s before that, this online community will continue to be a work in progress as we develop new features and content for you. So thanks in advance for your patience and for your feedback.
For me these three areas are of primary interest, and I wonder if Macon will share how this works for the Presidency, how it impacts decisions made, how people can track their input – or whether they don’t. I suspect that he won’t as this is all part of the magic, so I would love to just shadow the man for a bit and watch him weave Americans in with their senior management.
His Twitter feeds are protected sadly, but you can see that he follows few and has few followers, nor does he update that often (27 updates).
His online presence is clean (as one would expect), he is on LinkedIn and Facebook but he seems to reserve his social media interaction for business only, and I really admire that. It is something for me to aspire to, although I don’t have the power to clean up my own activity online over the years, how I would love to come at it from new and create this wonderful, professional – yet open and honest – online persona.
Even in Google images it is not blindingly obvious who he is, but here he is (am I sounding a teensy bit stalkery? 🙂 not meaning to, just so interested in who sits behind what is happening online over there).
I am intrigued and fascinated by what is to come – not so much for the Obama presidency (although even I can see that this is a momentous time in history and for the future); but down here in true online engagement and collaboration, e-democracy from the top down. Interesting too to see what the departments do over there to keep up with this. Here is a list of all the US departments and their twitter feeds – I wanted to follow them all to see what happened, but I don’t have the time/head space! Someone should though, and let me know.
Enough! I shall try not to post about this any more…