Huge apologies to those waiting for me to write up the discussion on Thursday. It will come, next week, it will be useful and yes… you can play too.
In the meantime, the questions that I have been sent privately suggest that my presumed awareness of website rationalisation and transformational government might be a little skewed.
The official documentation can be found by Googling the two terms, and maybe downloading a couple of PDFs, but the following is an explanation *MY OWN PERSONAL VIEW ONLY* of why it is important background to how we consult policy development in the future, and hence: the changing face of e-democracy… and why it is a part of what I am trying to do.
(My qualification for writing about this comes from the period of time I worked with Alex Butler *formidably good* and Andrew Stott *formidably mathematical* communicating the practical requirements of the policy across Whitehall).
Essentially, transformational government contains a piece about the online world: given the handle of website rationalisation. Website rationalisation has sub-divided itself into rationalisation and convergence.
Website rationalisation is simply: reducing the number of websites government uses to disseminate information.
Website convergence is (I am not going to say simply) migrating the content out there onto the three proposed ‘golden’ destinations:
- Directgov: for citizen information
- businesslink.gov.uk: for business from SMEs to large corporates
- Departmental sites: for stakeholder/’corporate’ information (central department sites only, non-departmental public bodies NDPBs are required to associate themselves with their ‘owners’)
There are more, NHS, Police etc but they are exceptions. Stick with the simple version…
In theory, this is a good thing: it simplifies how government delivers information, helps us members of this democracy find the information we need and it will eventually reduce cost.
All of this needs to be complete by end March 2011.
So for us, it’s good!
For departments it is more challenging as it does mean that every website needs to be audited, carved up and re-delivered through the three agreed channels.
I cannot hope to give the number of websites we are talking here, but there are many please forgive my reticence to quote numbers, I know I will only be proved wrong!
Again, in theory, this is simple: audit the sites, audit the information, de-duplicate: re-deliver.
The challenge comes when policy units need to consult, to engage with us and find out what we think. Can using such a remote version of e-delivery work?
The challenge is already here. The people working in departments across Whitehall and the UK are now, have been and will be consulting on policies they are charged with developing over x number of years, and the Internet is a key tool for doing so. Take away the policy unit’s website and… how can this be done?
Well, the choice right now is the departmental website: until Directgov is able to offer consultation tools (not knocking DG, this is a biggy).
But… what if we were to look at this as white space? The information that we all need to know in any circumstance will, by 2011, be delivered through the three approved government arms. (Tempted to go Ganesha on the arms thing, but, let’s not.) Departments have time to streamline the corporate sites.
So is this an opportune moment to look at better ways of getting peoples’ opinion on policies in development?
My gut says yes. The temperature in the department I work for says yes. Hence all the fuss.
I will bring you details of the discussion last Thursday and will show you where you can play and what you can do if this matters to you.
Hoping that helped…