Andrew Lewin has written a superb post about what has happened recently in government 2.0 (I am doing it on purpose now) and the questions this raises with regard to innovation vs transformation. Do go and read it, I just wanted to address a couple of points, (and my comment on his blog became an essay so I deleted it and am writing it here instead!). Here’s the bit I want to talk about:
Maybe it’s time for Transformational Government to come up with its own version 2.0 to take into account how it should be working to promote open source, small inspirational and novel microsites? Behind the scenes it already is – coming up with ways of using the semantic web to deliver services while retaining the core commitment to Directgov, Businesslink and a small number of central websites and forbidding any new ones. But the evidence suggests this core line might be breaking in 2009 and that it needs to have a more fundamental root-and-branch rethink or risk becoming the sort of block to responsive, user-centred design of government services that it was created to promote and achieve.
I believe it already is. When you Google ‘transformational government’, which I have to do every time I am looking for that strategy document as I can never remember the CIO url, or even that it sits on the CIO website (:)), the first link you get is indeed the right one (hooray) and takes you straight to this:
Follow the first link about Open Source, Open Standard and Re-use and you get this, with a link to the PDF for the detail (wince) and a natty netvibes page for following the conversation. OK so this is not about website rationalisation, which is the bit in the Transformational Government policy to which I think you refer, but it is definitely a 2.0 thing, no?
To my mind, most people think that transformational government is just website rationalisation: it’s not, it’s just that that bit has had quite a bit of Press. Here is an explanation of all the areas covered by the TG agenda.
Yes there is the bit about reducing lots of websites and utilising Directgov and businesslink.gov.uk, but there is also the following:
- empowering individuals to influence their services, with greater opportunities and direct involvement to influence the way they are designed and delivered
I say that this, alongside the opensource, open data commitment is the backbone to what you are proposing happens: without it being done in a brand new announcement that includes the words 2.0 :) Of course, this could be interpreted many different ways, but I would like to think that everything that has happened, has actually ALL been a part of transformational government: it is far bigger than website rationalisation (that did need to happen).
Steph Gray points out on Andrew’s blog that perhaps the measurement of website convergence success should not be urls, enabling WordPress sites to be thrown up wherever and whenever. I am not sure… I don’t know that rapid response to customer need, and engaging with people where they are already conversing necessitates MORE websites. The one site being pointed to is the much heralded Real Help Now: I think that this should have been done in Directgov, all it does in any case for the actual advice bit is deep link to Directgov and businesslink.gov.uk information; it should have been a Directgov campaign and I see no reason for it to have been otherwise under the TG rules. I don’t buy the argument that DG cannot do it because of tech, it can do maps and it can deep link… I think that in this case it was a Political decision.
Going back to the report by David Varney: Service transformation, a better service for citizens and business, a better deal for the tax payer (flipping difficult to find, but readily available as a PDF, prob because it is sold by TSO for £18!) upon which the TG strategy is based: it does look dated now.
Update: and would you take a look at this?! http://blog.helpfultechnology.com/2009/02/consultationxml-goes-open-source/ Now that’s exciting… and great