WRITTEN ON December 20th, 2010 BY William Heath
STORED IN Policies

The House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) is to do an enquiry into the extent to which government IT as “ideal”:

“The inquiry will examine the Government’s overall strategy for information technology (IT) including how it identifies business needs, the effectiveness of governance arrangements, and procurement policy and practice.”

Chaired by the thoughtful Bernard Jenkin (who has a discerning taste in rock music), the committee is advised by Jerry Fishenden of CTPR which should keep things honest and lively. Experts are invited to submit evidence to pasc [at] parliament.uk by 21 Jan. Do share any evidence here. Excellent homework for the holiday period…

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WRITTEN ON December 2nd, 2010 BY William Heath
STORED IN Save Time and Money

Government IT procurement has been far from ideal. So this today from Francis Maude looks encouraging

“You will all have experienced procurements that seemed to go on forever, cost millions of pounds and took countless hours of your employees’ time and energy. I know how frustrating this can be and I can promise you here today that we will do things differently…But there will also be things we expect from you. Government will no longer offer the easy margins of the past. We will open up the market to smaller suppliers and mutuals and we will expect you to partner with them as equals, not as sub-ordinates. The days of the mega IT contracts are over, we will need you to rethink the way you approach projects, making them smaller, off the shelf and open source where possible. We will expect you to be transparent in all your dealings with us and for the terms of the contracts we sign with you to be published online.”

Sounds promising…anything we can do to help?

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WRITTEN ON November 25th, 2010 BY Sir Bonar Neville-Kingdom GCMG KCVO
STORED IN Uncategorized

Sir Bonar Neville-Kingdom addresses an invited audience at the Institute for Government on the occasion of the launch of the publication “The Twitters of Sir Bonar Neville-Kingdom”. He spoke about the G-Cloud and the proposed Government Apps Store. Sir Bonar is accompanied by his secretary Patricia.


WRITTEN ON November 23rd, 2010 BY Sir Bonar Neville-Kingdom GCMG KCVO
STORED IN Uncategorized


MY LORDS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN what a delight to see you all.

My name is Bonar Neville-Kingdom and it is my pleasure to welcome you all to the Institute for Government for the launch of our new ethnographic study into how government is adapting to the Internet age.

Corridor of power (more…)


WRITTEN ON November 21st, 2010 BY Sir Bonar Neville-Kingdom GCMG KCVO
STORED IN Uncategorized

The British civil service has taken to social networking like a duck to water, a new book to be launched this week proves. In another world first for British public-sector ICT, Permanent Secretary at Large Sir Bonar-Neville-Kingdom has allowed a year’s worth of his office’s output to the social networking site Twitter to be published in book form at lulu.com.

Sir Bonar cover image

Formerly HM Government’s technology outreach Czar, Neville-Kingdom is currently data sharing Czar. He was also a former Ideal Government contributor, becoming in the process the first serving Permanent Secretary to blog in an open forum, before taking to Twitter in July 2009. He now has close to 1000 followers, including many women of a certain age with unusual names and a taste for lingerie.

His book has received a mixed reception. Internal research suggests it has an approval rating of 147% among Cabinet Office staff. And former Minister Tom Watson says that “understanding his mindset is among the most important tasks facing the British Government” Meanwhile Yes Minister author Antony Jay, whose latest play is currently touring, says Sir Humphrey would have envied the immense powers technology has put at Sir Bonar’s disposal, but appears to doubt whether the latter is able to use them wisely.

But digital champion Martha Lane Fox, despite confessing to a deep love of the absurd, describes Sir Bonar as “beyond the pale“. And satirist Chris Morris calls his efforts “utterly put-downable“.

Sir Bonar is unrepentant: “To me, this is simply like a normal year of dictating without sight,” he told Ideal Government. “Of course I haven’t read the damn thing.”

Judge for yourselves. The Twitters of Sir Bonar Neville-Kingdom is available in hardcover and pdf format from Lulu.com. Rate it, review it. Keep calm, and carry on.


WRITTEN ON October 14th, 2010 BY William Heath
STORED IN Data nitwittery, Design: Co-creation, Foundation of Trust, Save Time and Money

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.


WRITTEN ON September 27th, 2010 BY William Heath
STORED IN Identity, Save Time and Money

Mydex‘ new White Paper out today has a section at the back that sets out the implications of personal data stores such as Mydex for public sector services, identifiers, personalisation and security. The text of that section is below. You can download the whole Mydex White Paper here. (more…)


WRITTEN ON September 23rd, 2010 BY William Heath
STORED IN We told you so...

It seems councils are starting to turn off vehicle speed cameras (Reading, Derby, Oxfordshire). There must be a German word for this. Something like Fahrzeugsgeschwindigkeitskameraeinrichtungdämmerung.


WRITTEN ON September 21st, 2010 BY William Heath
STORED IN Design: Co-creation, Design: user-oriented, Foundation of Trust, Identity, Save Time and Money

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.