Foundation of Trust – Ideal Government What do we want from Internet-age government? Wouldn't it be better if... Sun, 12 Aug 2012 09:49:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What’s the ideal way to get smart data about energy use? Mon, 16 Jan 2012 15:05:37 +0000 It’s a big and timely question as government and businesses across Europe get ready to spend up to $100bn on smart metering projects. In the UK that means the intended rollout of 53m gas and electricity smart meters to 26m households at a projected cost of £11.7bn. That’s on the same scale as the NHS Connecting for Health programme or the benighted late and unlamented National ID Scheme.

Which? offers up a good intro to what the smart metering plan means for UK consumers, along with a ‘No selling, just installing’ campaign.

But there are more issues. This is a huge sum of money to commit at any time and especially now with the country broke. Will we get good value? Is the £11.7bn figure the pre-inflation, pre-ballooning costs and pre Cook’s-constant estimate (the MoD rule of thumb is to take the first estimate and multiply by pi to get the eventual real figure).

Given this move is about changing behaviour we have to ask are the incentives right across government, regulated utilities and consumers?

Then there’s the data. Which? broaches the matter. As I understand it, the smart meters generate a highly detailed picture of your energy usage. The plan is to create a new company to which all the data gets uploaded. Users can then access the data through the portal of their own supplier.

Will the system be sufficiently secure, given what is at stake? And whose data is it anyway? To proponents of individual control over individual data this looks hopelessly messy, expensive and risky.

Ross Anderson and others warned early and often that NPfIT, the ID scheme and other vanity megadatabases were headed for disaster. So we’d do well to heed what he and Shailendra Fuloria also of Cambridge Uni now write in their very helpful 2011 paper Smart meter security: a survey.

It covers smart metering issues including security, personal privacy, threats to the infrastructure and fraud. As well as being gifted with a vast brain and clear understanding of technology, Ross has achieved a whole series of deeper insights earlier than others by focussing on security economics and analysing the inevitable results of perverse incentives. In this case, the authors conclude:

…it is a fascinating case study in security economics:
systems are much harder to protect when incentives conflict, and
smart metering exposes perverse incentives galore.

Of course we’ll all have smart meters or smart energy monitoring devices. But is the government’s great smart-meter project destined to be part of the non-ideal databankendammerung?

It feels wrong in many ways. It feels every inch like the last big project trying to sneak through before a new principle takes hold: the principle that individuals should as far as possible control their personal data. That changes everything. This project looks like one for the chop.

Thx to Alex, Vin, Luke and FIPR colleagues

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Let’s rethink the logistics of personal data in government #3: Census Thu, 14 Oct 2010 15:09:40 +0000 More or less the first post on IdealGov over six years ago was on Finland’s register-based census. But now, thanks to all sorts of developments not least this week’s Mydex launch, we can see how the UK in 2012 2011 could do better than the Finns a decade earlier.

The non-ideal 2012 [correction: 2011] Census will see Lockheed Martin paid £500m-odd of money we can ill afford to undertake a clunky process of data gathering which will take 2-3 years to complete and feed back.

But if everyone had a personal data store such as Mydex….

….one could simply add to the personal data store the fields needed to complete the Census questionnaire. ONS could invite people to volunteer this information, or could see how far it got compelling it by law with threats of dire consequences. It could poll the information once every ten years if that were good enough for statistical purposes and for planning public services. Or it could poll people’s personal data stores ever 10 months, 10 weeks, 10 hours, 10 minutes, or 10 seconds. Lockheed Martin could go back to making rockets and bombs. We’d save a pile of money. And we’d start to be able to plan public services based on real needs and preferences instead of an out-of-date decennial view.

The immediate question (to anticipate any ONS trolling [amendment: pushback]) is universality. How can you possibly make PDSs universal in the way the census needs to be? Perhaps the answer is: given the huge benefits both to the individual and the state of working with PDSs, how much incentive can we plan for the individual to help this to spread far, wide and fast? Remember the core principle has to be gaining the individual’s trust, so intrusive data gathering and playing fast & loose with the data is ruled out.

But if you want a Big Society fuelled on accurate, up to date data on personal needs, circumstances and preferences this has to be the way to go. The 2012 2011 Census is going to feel about as far from Ideal as procuring a Stealth bomber to run the country’s Neighbourhood Watch Schemes.

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It’s not about identity. Or privacy. It’s about saving money Tue, 21 Sep 2010 21:17:09 +0000 Does it matter that the Coalition hasn’t published a post-ID-Scheme identity policy yet? I dont think so. It’s no more helpful to obsess about identity than to obsess about privacy. These things are important, but the overriding Coalition priority is to save money.

Happily, the urge to save money will usher in the right identity policy and in turn protect our privacy.

The area to focus on is data logistics. When Alan Mitchell and I browsed through hundreds of complaints about public services recently we observed that very few are about privacy and none at all about problems with identity. But the vast majority point to poor information logistics. The key person – official, professional, or the unhappy individual – just didn’t have the right information at the right time.

This causes irritation, frustration, offence, and vast expense. It’s extremely annoying for individuals not to be able to get hold of information they need, to have the wrong information, or to have to give the same information over and over again. It’s unjust, time-consuming and possibly worse to get the wrong treatment or service because the service cant get the information or has the wrong information.

It’s unnecessarily expensive for public services to attempt to maintain hundreds of different records about the same person (but neither feasible nor desirable to amalgamate them into panoptical mega-records). If you provide services on the back of incomplete and inaccurate data there’s every chance the service will be poor and unnecessarily expensive.

And it’s hard to plan and prioritise if you’re not in touch with your customers and people try as far as possible to withhold data from you. If we built churches using the last census there would be a few Jedi cathedrals lying empty.

If we can fix this (and we think it can be done) then people can get better, more responsive service, restored individual responsibility with a path to empowered self-service. HM Treasury also gets a triple dose of cost savings.

It means restoring control over personal data to the individual and building trust on the side of the individual.

User-controlled digital identifiers within an identity assurance framework are prerequisite, and that is just what Cabinet Office is now quietly proposing. Better privacy is a by-product (and a legal requirement, let’s not forget). But the compelling reason to pursue better data logistics with user-driven services is saving money.

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Databases can’t fix society. But society can fix the databases Sun, 08 Aug 2010 20:47:33 +0000 The closure of ContactPoint and the onset of the Databankendämmerung is – let’s say it again – cause for celebration. It’s also cause for congratulation to those who campaigned long and hard, with negligeable resources, against the brick wall of prevailing wisdom to get rid of it.

That’s not to say the underlying problems ContactPoint was meant to help with – caused by poorly co-ordinated and overstretched childrens’ services – have gone away; they haven’t.

The question of how technology best supports front line professionals, without disproportionate and unwarranted intrusion remains unanswered. It’s part of the scope of the Munro review, which provides first feeback in September, and a final report in April 2011. I suspect we’re in good hands here. I’d hazard a guess that Dr Munro will focus relentlessly on the crucial matter of protection of the relatively small number of children at real risk, and not attempt to boil the ocean of the welfare, diet, propensity to obesity and general wellbeing and conformance to social norms of every child. And I also bet that the role she recommends for ICT in helping child-protection professionals will be conformant to data protection and human rights law in a way that ContactPoint was not.

The Databankendämmerung must spread, just as we must escape the limitations of the Accentureweltanschauung. There are other ill-advised and intrusive central databases on which we should call time: eCaf; NHS SCR; the NHS Detailed Care Record; NHS Secondary Uses Service; long term comms data retention generally and the Intercept Modernisation Programme in particular. Kind friends won’t let me forget that I’ve promised to do a special celebration to mark the end of the Benighted ID Scheme and its lavish quantities of nugatory PA consulting.

The LibDems always opposed the “Database State”. The Tories were quick to spot that the last administration had taken a wrong turn and were politically vulnerable. But when Labour Ministers stopped listening exclusively to Cheltenham and Whitehall and resumed listening to the outside world (about eight weeks before the last election) they too quickly came to their senses as well.

It’s best not to see this in political terms, because really it’s a question of information logistics. Remember Troubleshooter? If John Harvey-Jones could revisit us and contemplate the dozens, hundreds of databases which public and private organisations run each trying to scrape, grab and update their versions of us, and then looked at the average householder spending a week and a half updating the different customer service systems of every entity we ever have to deal with (through episodes from moving house to losing a wallet) recording and sharing the same data over and over again, filling out endless forms with different callcentres and web sites and usernames and passwords, ….he would just laugh his vast laugh, wouldn’t he? And as he laughed he’d start to calculate the waste and loss of value, and huge tears would roll down his generous cheeks.

The Database State is an issue of civil liberties, justice and equality, of course. But there more than that: it’s been clear for a good year that the country heading for bankruptcy. It has been clear for a decade we need radical reform of public services. It has been clear ever since people started chipping in their ideas to IdealGov that the role of technology in this radical reform is about user participation, about quick wins and creating a foundation of trust.

The radical money-saving reforms have to be based on accurate personal data. They have to be built with tech systems that work. They have to draw on people’s supportive, active participation.

Some databases are valid and unobjectionable of course: DVLA, TV licensing, the electoral roll. Many public-sector databases can be fixed. The point about the Databankendämmerung isn’t that all databases are evil. It’s that the state can’t fix society’s complex human problems with giant databases.

Weirdly enough, however, the opposite will turn out to be true. Even the worthwhile databases are still plagued with errors, omissions and duplications, They need our help. Databases can’t fix society. But, given the tools, society can start to fix the databases. That’s a much more promising way forward.

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Seeking best practice to inform ‘next’ practice Thu, 24 Jun 2010 09:59:12 +0000 Following on from Will’s post below, I’m pleased to say that in places (albeit all rather far from the Westminster media hub) people ARE using the burning platform of the current economic situation as a reason to re-think how they go about doing what they do. There are places where a requirement for a shift in both mindset and culture is being made more explicit, leading to a re-think about the nature of leadership, and how you measure success.

One example of this is a project commissioned by Nesta. The Innovation Unit is leading a programme of work pursuing Radical Efficiency (innovation that produces better outcomes at less cost) in 6 localities in England, all focused on early years services. One element of this – very similar to the approach we take in thepublicoffice – is to showcase exemplars of innovative practice, which can inspire people with the art of the possible.

I’m on the urgent lookout for new exemplars of innovation in the way outcomes have been delivered – especially (but not exclusively) in complex social policy areas. CAN YOU HELP? I’m particularly interested in any examples of work you can point me to which illustrate the themes below:

  • Uncover, build and really work with existing community capacity, networks and resources to deliver services
  • Overcome barriers to engagement with existing services (e.g. improving information and awareness, re-branding, tackling fear of judgement and stigma around accessing support)
  • Meet people where they are at – physically relocate services to places where people already are or go regularly and where they feel comfortable
  • Work with new ‘units’ of users – moving from children or traditional family units to really extended units of support (e.g. grandparents, close friends etc)
  • Rethink the role of the professional; create a much more mixed economy of support in the delivery of services, e.g. peer:peer, professional and non professional, formal and informal
  • Create a system with a diverse mix of service providers, formal and informal, private, voluntary and public sector

Suggestions needed ASAP. Prizes definitely on offer for suggestions that we use 🙂

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School governor needs our help! Thu, 25 Mar 2010 16:18:31 +0000 Ive been contacted by a school governor who doesn’t want to see their school bounced into fingerprinting the kids, and wonders what to do. They’ve prepared this draft briefing for a governor’s meeting this weekend. Looks pretty damn good to me. Is it right? Anything to add?

Reasons For Not Introducing Fingerprinting To [xyz] School

Privacy is a fundamental human right which underpins our dignity. One important concept of privacy concerns information privacy, the establishment of rules governing the collection and handling of personal data such as credit information, and medical and government records. It is also known as “data protection”.

George Orwell’s 1984 paints a bleak view of a future where information privacy is not respected. Although fingerprinting in the [xyz] cafeteria may not compare with 1984, the principle remains the same. There are legitimate uses for biometric testing such as tracking criminals, preventing terrorism and (arguably) border control, but its use for a marginal increase in efficiency in the cafeteria is disproportionate.

By capturing biometric data in exchange for lunch, we are unnecessarily exposing our [children] to several direct and indirect risks, for example:

Loss of Respect for Personal Information. Fingerprinting at school conditions children to embrace the idea of Big Brother-style biometric tracking. The patterns of activity we develop during early years clearly set the tone for how we behave in later life.

Identity Theft. Encouraging our children to give out their thumbprints on a daily basis leads them to think this is a natural activity. Who else will they give their biometrics to, without consulting their parents and asking questions like “why, and what will it be used for?

Criminalisation. If a child has never touched a fingerprint scanner, there is zero probability of being incorrectly investigated for a crime. Once a child has touched a scanner they will be at the mercy of the matching algorithm for the rest of their lives. In 2008, Jim Knight, then minister for schools and learning, said that the police could help themselves to the children’s fingerprints if they are trying to solve a crime – regardless of whether they have ever previously been in trouble with the law. The abuse of biometric information turns us from a nation of free citizens into a nation of suspects.

UK law states that privacy invasion must be proportional to the threat. [IS THIS TRUE?] Access to lunch does not warrant capture of biometric data. The alternative to fingerprinting is the use of swipe cards, a proven and uncontroversial technology. Swipe cards share all of the efficiency benefits of fingerprinting except that boys may lose them. Boys are used to carrying, losing and replacing Oyster cards. If TFL is able to handle the odd missing card, why can’t [xyz]? Substantial efficiency gains are achieved whichever system we adopt. Only one of them de-humanises our children and degrades their human rights. As leaders of an outstanding school we should not trivialize the capture of personal information, we should not unnecessarily impose a fingerprinting system upon our [children].

Opposition from Politicians and Business

“Are you not concerned about the impression children are going to get of what it is to live in a free country and what it is to be British if, in order to get the right school meals, they have fingerprints taken? It seems to me completely astonishing.” Baroness Carnegy, Conservative, 19th March 2007, speaking in the House of Lords

“The practice of fingerprinting in schools has been banned in China as being too intrusive and an infringement of children’s rights? Here, it is widespread. We have even had a head teacher tricking three year-olds into giving their fingerprints by playing a spy game. Will the Government ban schools from carrying out this practice, unless parents specifically opt into the system following full and independent information about the so-called benefits of the system and the dangers of identity fraud?” Baroness Walmsley, Liberal Democrat, 19th March 2007, speaking in the House of Lords

“People have to be stark, raving mad to use conventional biometrics to improve the efficiency of a children’s lunch line.”
Kim Cameron (chief architect for identity at Microsoft), 5th April 2007

Further Reading

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Consultation on MPs’ expenses Fri, 08 Jan 2010 12:16:12 +0000 The new Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has a consultation up on MPs expenses. Do it, people! If we don’t fill it out now and feed back, we can hardly complain if we don’t like how MPs’ expenses work in future.

It’s a deceptively simple looking web site which is easy to use but pretty thorough in the feedback it invites. Designed, delivered and hosted by our friends at The Dextrous Web – nice one!

Tories announce £1m competition for large-scale crowdsourcing platform Wed, 30 Dec 2009 12:06:16 +0000 Cripes. HM’s Loyal Opposition has announced – if elected – a £1m prize for an online platform for large-scale crowdsourcing.

This almost comes onto the radar of big IT suppliers. It’s massive for smart little NGOs; it would have funded about a decade of early MySociety work.

I got it in an email (extract below). There’s probably a URL but I dont have it yet. This was announced by my local MP Jeremy Hunt. They’d take the cash from the Cabinet Office budget.

This is going to be fun!

Hi there – hope you’ve all had a merry and relaxing Christmas.

I just wanted to flag up the £1 million competition that we have
announced today for anyone who can develop an online platform that
enables us to tap into the wisdom of crowds to resolve difficult
policy challenges. In government, we will use this platform to publish
all Green Papers, and open up the entire policy making process to the
public. See briefing note below for more details.

This really is the most radical crowdsourcing announcement ever made
by a UK political party – not only in terms of our commitment to
opening up the policy making process, but also because of our use of a
Longitude/Netflix style prize.

We’d be really grateful if you were able to flag up this announcement,
and the press release below, to your contacts in the IT media. After
all, we want lots of people to enter this competition and develop
online collaborative platforms – so publicity is obviously crucial!

All the best

Hunt: Solving problems together – harnessing the Wisdom of Crowds

The Conservatives are today announcing a competition, with a £1million
prize, for the best new technology platform that helps people come
together to solve the problems that matter to them – whether that’s
tackling government waste, designing a local planning strategy,
finding the best school or avoiding roadworks.

This online platform will then be used by a future Conservative
government to throw open the policy making process to the public, and
harness the wisdom of the crowd so that the public can collaborate to
improve government policy. For example, a Conservative government
would publish all government Green Papers on this platform, so that
everyone can have their say on government policies, and feed in their
ideas to make them better.

This is in addition to our existing radical commitment to introduce a
Public Reading Stage for legislation so that the public can comment on
draft bills, and highlight drafting errors or potential improvements.

Launching the competition, Shadow Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:

“Conservatives believe that the collective wisdom of the British
people is much greater than that of a bunch of politicians or
so-called experts. And new technology now allows us to harness that
wisdom like never before. So at this time of year, when families and
friends are getting together, we’re announcing a new idea to help the
British people get together to help solve the problems that matter to

“There are currently no technological platforms that enable in-depth
online collaboration on the scale required by Government – this prize
is a good and cost-effective way of getting one.

“Too often policy has been ill thought through with disastrous
consequences. When formulating and implementing policy why should we
not listen to the hundreds of thousands of experts out there?”


For further information please call Ramesh Chhabra on 07738 935 187

Notes to Editors.

In the bureaucratic age, decisions in government, business and other
organisations were typically made by a small, closed group of experts.
In the post-bureaucratic age, new technologies enable us to reject
this top-down approach to decision-making. These new technologies
allow us to harness the wisdom of the crowd, take advantage of the
power of mass collaboration and make use of the information and ideas
dispersed amongst large groups of people. Evidence from around the
world has shown that this post-bureaucratic approach can result in
more efficient and effective decision-making and problem solving than
relying on small groups of experts.

Harnessing the wisdom of the crowd in this way is a fundamentally
Conservative approach, based on the insight that using dispersed
information, such as that contained within a market, often leads to
better outcomes than centralised and closed systems. The Conservative
Party has already used crowd sourcing to develop new policies, for
example through our ‘Stand Up Speak Up’ initiative. To make sure that
we make best use of this approach, a Conservative government will
offer an unprecedented £1 million prize for any individual or team
that develops a platform that enables large groups of people to come
together online to solve common problems and develop new policies.

Harnessing the wisdom of crowds – case studies


Innocentive is a website used by leading companies such as Proctor and
Gamble and charities such as the Rockefeller Foundation, to tap into
the wisdom of the crowd and get answers to otherwise intractable
research problems. There are over 160,000 scientists and other experts
in the Innocentive network, and they are incentivised to take part
through cash prizes for solving problems.

Improvng the Netflix algorithm

Netflix, a US-based DVD rental company, wanted to improve the
algorithm it uses to recommend films to users. Instead of hiring a
research team itself, it threw open its dataset, and offered a $1m
prize for anyone who could improve its algorithm by 10% or more. This
approach yielded a solution far more cheaply and quickly than relying
on an internal team of researchers.


Peer-to-Patent uses the wisdom of the crowd to improve the patent
process, and has been trialled by the US Patent Office. Under this
approach, patent applications are posted online, so that instead of
relying on a small group of bureaucrats, anyone in the world can check
whether the application is valid. This approach seems to be much
faster and more efficient than the traditional closed approach to
appraising patent applications.

Solving maths problems

In January 2009, Timothy Gowers, professor of mathematics at Cambridge
University and a holder of the Fields Medal, posted a hitherto
intractable maths challenge on his blog, and invited readers from
across the world to collaborate and solve the problem. The resulting
comment thread spanned hundreds of thousands of words and drew in
dozens of contributors. Six weeks later, the theorem was proved.

Harnessing the wisdom of crowds – 10 potential applications

Here are ten ideas to get the ball rolling: ten problems (ranging from
the serious to the somewhat seasonal) that we think could better be
solved by the collective wisdom of the British people than by a bunch
of experts sitting round a table. But the whole point of our
competition is to stimulate discussion about the different problems
that we can solve together if we had an easy to use online platform
for collaboration…so here are some of the possibilities:

1.    Identifying and rooting out wasteful government spending.

2.    Designing credit card bills that anyone can understand.

3.    Finding a safe place to park your bike.

4.    Rating the quality of schools and hospitals, to help other
people make informed choices.

5.   Making government information – for example on how to fill in
your tax return or set up a new business – clear, simple and useful.

6.   Creating new technology that blocks all spam emails.

7.    Locating current and planned road works, and working out a route
that avoids them.

8. Deciding how National Lottery good causes money should be spent.

9.   Picking the England squad for the 2010 World Cup.

10.   Designing a strategic plan for your community or city.

Harnessing the wisdom of crowds in policy making

In the post-bureaucratic age, opening up the policy making process can
help us to design better policy and transfer more control to
individuals and communities. The Conservative Party is committed to
harnessing the wisdom of crowds in a number of ways:

-         We will introduce a Public Reading Stage for legislation, so
that the public can help to spot errors in legislation, and feed in
their comments during the legislative


-         We will set government data free, enabling the public to
collaborate and develop new social and commercial applications.

-         We are publishing online, and in real time, the expense
claims of our Shadow Cabinet, enabling full and instant scrutiny.

-         We have published online a leaked version of the
Government’s IT strategy, so that people can post their suggestions on
how to develop a better set of policies.

A Conservative government would seek to make extensive use of this
approach. However, there are currently no technological platforms that
enable in-depth online collaboration on the scale required by

We are today announcing that a Conservative government will offer a £1
million prize for any individual or team that develops an online
platform that enables large scale collaboration and meets the
specifications that we will be publishing alongside the official
opening of the competition following the election. This platform will
then be used by a future Conservative government to throw open the
policy making process to the public, and harness the wisdom of the
crowd. For example, a Conservative government will publish all
government Green Papers on this innovative and open platform. The
source code of the platform will be made openly available, so that it
can be used by local councils, social enterprises and other
organisations free of charge.

While leading institutions such as the Gates Foundation, Google and
Netflix have successfully made use of procurement prizes, this £1
million prize will be the largest prize ever offered by a British
government in the modern era. The prize will be funded from within the
Cabinet Office budget.

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Time to say what we want from government IT Fri, 18 Dec 2009 10:54:19 +0000 It’s time to say what we want from government IT.

Let’s do this together. Let’s say “wouldn’t it be better if” about how tech affects transparency, costs and the quality of public services and how they affect our lives.

@ntouk and I have long since been fed up with what one senior Whitehall official yesterday called “this £trillion attempt to drag us into 1983”. Many of us have had a go at the draft government IT strategy on the Opposition’s makeITbetter site. Officials across Whitehall are now furiously revising it, so let’s hope the final published version is better.

Meanwhile we can speak freely. We can look to the realities of the wider world, and we don’t have to pretend that everything to date has been fine. Now it’s time to find our voice and say what we want.

The Centre for Technology Policy Research and IdealGov are launching a six-week competition, which everyone wins. Everyone who contributes is invited to a party. And everyone can, like, bring stuff (as we did to mypublicservices).

Practicalities. Please add any comments of suggestions about the process to this post. The final crowd-sourced “White paper of Wibbi” will be created on an open wiki here. Please feel free to register and edit, or to add comments at the end.

Party: IdealGov and CTPR are chipping in £1000 to the launch party to which everyone who has contributed is invited. There will be prizes including signed photos of our very own tech mandarin Sir Bonar Neville-Kingdom.

Political engagement:An Opposition front bench team has already agreed to listen attentively to our results. We have also extended invitations to Labour and LibDem leaderships and to officials to attend the party or have the results presented. [UPDATE: Big news: still on day one and we’ve now also heard back that this will get presented to a LibDem front bench team and to the people drafting the Labour manifesto. This is subject to the project attracting enough substantial input of quality. So this is now definitely an opportunity to put good ideas in front of all three main UK parties. We’re also up for inviting SNP, Plaid & Greens to launch party. Everyone needs a good government IT policy.]]

This initiative is formally adopting the principles of #CMRD, the “courteous and mutually respectful dialogue” called for last week by Michael Wills and first practised at an Intellect/Identity and Passport Service event this week.

Above all, we need to state in plain lay terms the role of contempory technology in future public services should be. Specifically, our work will need to cover off the main headings:

– governance of public-sector IT
– technical architecture which supports the real-world intention
– procurement of technology and tech-based services
– design that works for front line staff and users
– basis for participative public services
– public data
– personal data
– trust, dignity & legality under human rights & DP law
– political engagement, openness and trust in the political process
– and above all saving vast, vast amounts of money.

This is not a time to splash out. The country’s broke. So first we need to spend less on IT, existing contracts notwithstanding. But then it’s two orders of magnitude more important that our IT plans support far more efficient public services.

Suggesting we deploy hundreds of PA consultants (or Deloitte or whoever) to mooch around filling out timesheets and expense claims for absurd day rates is not going to get you invited to the party. But any suggestion that draws the best expertise available into the gift economy (and by no means are all consultants nitwits) is most welcome.

This project is not a platform for venting anger at wrong headedness or past mediocrity (whoops! did I just do it? Old habits…) Take that frustration but use it to say what you want in the spirit of the #CMRD. Please bring your beliefs, principles, and passion, but the IdealGov and CTPR moderators will give short shrift to anything actionable or which reeks of partisan preconceptions. Scepticism is justified, but cynicism not.

We may need a “babies and bathwater” section to set out for controversial systems such as CfH or the ID Scheme what must go but what also should be retained. We should give praise where due, eg for Power of Information work. And our suggestions must be practical enough to keep the lights on, ie to keep essential services running uninterrupted while new and better plans emerge.

Contributions from all stakeholders are welcome: officials, industry, front line staff, anyone who speaks from personal experience of public services. Pertinent Art is always welcome, because it can speak to our condition so powerfully.

We last did this in 2004, remember. Now its time to do it again.

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First public engagement in CMRD mode: the role of the individual in public services Wed, 16 Dec 2009 19:35:47 +0000 At the invitation of IPS and Intellect I gave a Ctrl-Shift talk about the role of the individual in future public services. It’s material that will be familiar to the IdealGov posse, but I was apprehensive because this is a close-knit community very focussed on large contracts and not known for welcoming alternate views.

We also tested out the IdealGov wiki for comments in advance: many thanks for these. We’ll see more of the wiki in future.

The IPS/Intellect dialogue was much better than I had feared it might be. Not uncritical, but constructive. The only violence on show was violent agreement.

Perhaps the new “contructive and mutually respectful dialogue (#CMRD on Twitter) has finally started, the week after Michael Wills first called for it. Thanks to IPS for the engagement.