WRITTEN ON November 25th, 2009 BY William Heath AND STORED IN Foundation of Trust, Government Procurement, Political engagement, Power of Information

Interesting post on transparency in government by Liam Maxwell on the Conservative local government blog:

…Once you have gone through the obvious and straightforward, many of the sustainable cost savings we need to generate come through changing peoples’ behaviour: to become more cost effective, to continually recognise and eliminate even small amounts of waste.

That requires personal responsibility and that requires visibility of the problem – hence our push for transparency.

The Transparency Initiative

The Royal Borough Windsor & Maidenhead council has embarked on a process of continuing, increasing transparency and openness.

Some of the initiatives are:

* Procurement: every piece of expenditure over £500 is published (except things like individual residents’ payments for personal care).
* Smart Metering allows residents to see, in real time, how much power is being used in public buildings – you can see this in action here.
* Tables are published of what meetings Councillors attended and which they missed.
* We’ve expanded the number of Overview and Scrutiny Committees from one to five and every Cabinet decision has to be commented on by them.
* Expenses: every expense claim by councillors is published, no matter how small.

Liam’s author of the CPS It’s Ours paper which proposed broadly VRM-like solutions for public-service IT. While he’s putting these principles into practice in RB Windsor & Maindenhead, he’s also clearly signalling that he thinks they have a role to play in opposition IT policy for Whitehall.

Is this working in Windsor? Is the same (or more) being done elsewhere? Does it translate to the national scene? Very glad of your comments.

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