The ‘Green’ Emancipator

February 14, 2012

VIDEO STORY: Green technology on the front line

Mick Phythian, head of ICT at Rydale District Council, member of the Local CIO Council and Socitm lead on green technology issues, welcomes the Government’s sub-strategy for Green ICT – and is inviting local government to feed back examples of green best practice in the sector for his work with Socitm.

To read the rest of this news article click here: http://www.ukauthority.com/?tabid=64&id=3528


More evidence to PASC

March 27, 2011

There is a further session of the House of Commons PASC hearing from Tuesday 22 March at 10.33am available for viewing, following the one reported earlier. On this occasion those appearing are :

  1. Mark Adams-Wright, Chief Information Officer, Suffolk County Council, David Wilde, Chief Information Officer, Westminster City Council, and Martin Ferguson, Head of Policy, Society of Information Technology Management
  2. Joe Harley, Director General and Chief Information Officer, and Malcolm Whitehouse, Group Applications Director, Department for Work and Pensions, Phil Pavitt, Director General and Chief Information Officer, and Mark Holden, Director Programmes and Projects IMS, HMRC

Unfortunately the video recording is missing the first ten minutes of the session, when Martin Ferguson covered a lot of ground about how we do things well in local public services. This will appear shortly in the transcript.

In addition, Martin admits when asked,  that local government has not been directly involved in the new government ICT strategy, although the local CIO Council was invited by the then Government CIO, John Suffolk, to prepare its own approach, which we are doing as was highlighted recently.

The interviews provide some idea of what is going on at Suffolk and Westminster councils in IT and service delivery terms, whilst a final message from David Wilde “Don’t look to IT to make government work better, it won’t. It can enable it”, strengthens the approach being taken in the routemap being drawn up.


Open strategy

December 3, 2009

So, the Conservative Party have leaked a leaked copy of the draft Government IT Strategy! I’d been privvy to an early draft through the Local CIO Council and hadn’t really thought anything was worth shouting about. In fact I’m not really sure that another government would do any much different, apart from branding and terminology. Whilst I am a strong believer in, and my dissertation relates to, “co-production”, I’m not a believer in crowdsourcing per se, it’s a bit like mob rule or, even worse, minority rule or oligarchy, which is apparently the Conservative Party rationale for leakage. I had wondered if it had been a deliberate leak on John Suffolk’s part but I gather from the Cabinet Office that this was not the case, however they do insist it was an early draft and that the feedback will be very useful!

This is the leakage is latest Conservative version of a Conservative ICT non-strategy and not some little way from their earlier rallying cries around “open source”,  “open gov” and “open data”. On the W3C group on e-government, someone recently posted a list of alternative “definitions” for such data and here they are with credit to Winchel “Todd” Vincent III of
<xmlLegal> http://www.xmllegal.org/ This may be developed as part of the groups work but the original is his.

“Unavailable: You simply cannot get the data.  Data is cost prohibitive to publish. There may be security or privacy reasons not to publish.  Or, simply, no one ever thought to publish the data.

Not Translated: Data is available, but exists in a different language than the end user’s language.

Paper: Data is available, but it is only available on paper.

Free: Data is available at no cost and without restrictions.

Fee Based: Data is available, but only for a fee.
— Public: Fee Based: Government provides data for a fee.
— Private: Fee Based: Private company provides data for a fee.

Copyright: Data is available (in some way) but there are copyright restrictions on republication or reuse.

Copyright with License: Data is available (in some way), there is a copyright, but also a license that allows some use (other than all rights reserved).

Public Domain: Data is available (in some way) and is in the public domain, so there are no restrictions on use of the data.

Electronic: Data is available electronically.

Electronic: Web Browser or Paper-Like Electronic Document Format: Data is available but only via a web browser or an electronic document format and not in an easily parsed format (where Images/Graphics, HTML, XHTML, PDF, Word, and Word Perfect do not count as easily parsed formats).

Electronic: Structured Format: Data is available electronically and in a structured format.  A structured format would include delimited text, spreadsheet, XML, and the like.

Electronic: Structured Format: Schema: Data is available electronically and in a structured format.  Additionally, there is a schema available that defines the structured format.

— Government Schema: A government promulgates the schema. The schema may or may not be in the public domain.

— Standards Body Schema: A recognized standards body promulgates the schema.  Schema is licensed under a “copyleft” (perpetual, free, but with restrictions not to modify) or similar license (typical of W3C, OASIS, but not all “recognized” standards bodies).

— Private Schema:  A private company promulgates the schema.  The schema may or may not have licensing restrictions associated with it.

Electronic: Browser/Viewer: Electronic data, whether structured or not, is available only via a web browser or other viewer for viewing.

Electronic: Download: Electronic data, whether structured or not, is available to download.  Here, download means a “manual” download. Some manual user input must be done to download the data (e.g., downloading a spreadsheet or structured text file via an HTTP link or FTP) to the user’s local machine.

Electronic: Web Service: Electronic data, typically structured, is available via a web service (meant in a generic way, not specific to a technology) for machine consumption.  There is some standard, specification, or documented publication rules, such that machines can reliably access the data on an ongoing basis.  The point here is not the format of the data, but the reliability and availability of the connection to the data, so that machines can get to the data feed without human intervention.

Each of these qualities makes the data more or less “open” or “accessible” as a practical matter.  There are  many combinations of these that one could put together.”

If anybody in UK wants to remember the recent history of the National Land and Property Gazetteer (NLPG), they’ll remember the local property data expensively gathered with great efforts spent cleansing it. The authorities who have spent large sums of money are now likely to find this being given away. There is current effort on matching this data with that from the Electoral Register, this is the Coordinated Online Register of Electors (CORE) project. One of the issues around propert data in recent times has been resistance from the Royal Mail which produces the postcode file to allow any fee-free use of the PAF. So local authorities are expected to give away data that has been expensively cleansed in order that private organizations may profit – if that is the Conservative plan – to see it given it away like North Sea Oil, public transport, British Gas etc etc. The comment is that public money paid for it, so the public should have it – but what if they have to pay twice?


Beatcounters

October 22, 2009

I haven’t before reported upon discussions at the Local CIO Council and since we try and operate within Chatham House rules, I won’t often, but in this instance I don’t believe I’m breaking them!

On the 20th October 2009 the packed agenda for the day included a presentation on the Socitm benchmarking scheme and its status in the current climate of the Operational Efficiency Programme etc…

Since part of the impetus for this blog is metrics, I have a vested interest in anything that considers channel shift and channel service comparison, which the benchmarks can, so I’m interested!

Unsurprisingly, one of my colleagues, Glyn Evans, commented upon Birmingham’s employment of ‘business value’, an approach that was generally found acceptable given that much of the value of I.T. initiatives is sometimes lost in the tradition of ‘bean counting’, hence I’ve labelled the soft alternative ‘beat counting’!

My own researches have included side investigations into ‘public value’ and ‘social capital’ as possible metrics, which whilst of no assistance on their own, may be able to be employed as parallel accounting contibutions, given sufficient focus upon what the citizen wants and needs.

Any thoughts out there?


E-government dependencies

September 20, 2009

Computer Weekly of the 15th September 2009 includes a piece by Ian Grant on Dr David Osimo’s presentation to the European Network and Information Security Agency summer school under the title “E-government success depends on external expertise”

Coincidentally, Dr David Osimo is a managing partner at tech4i2, a consultancy founded by my friend Professor Paul Foley, formerly of De Montfort University which examines a range of practical issues around electronic government, so I was interested to read it.  Especially as I was attending a meeting with members of the Local CIO Council at Sunningdale on the subject Public Sector Network (PSN) at the time.

Osimo points out that ICT has not fundamentally changed government in Europe with 50% of services fully interactive and only 9.3%  of citizens using them. The answer to which he sees as Web 2.o solutions being delivered by people outside of government, my favourite of his examples being Patient Opinion.

He then goes on to propose a model for Tao government, with which I have no arguments but rather than being anything “techie”, this is a change to democracy and government as we’ve known it and, without a revolution, I don’t see it becoming much more than a facade that citizens will soon tire of.


Follow your leader?

September 9, 2009

Or perhaps your leader needs to follow you?

In a short (36 pages) and pithy report entitled “Whole systems go!”, Professors John Bennington and Jean Hartley examine public leadership in the round on behalf of the Sunningdale Institute.

What has this to do with e-government or metrics? Well, John Benington proposed a model for the Foundation for Information Technology in Local Government (FITLOG) some ten years ago that I employed in a dissertation and journal article - it concerned ‘mobilising the bureaucracy’ and I thought it was great.

Now the new report is still trying to wake up the bureaucracy.

For example, they pick up on ‘public value’ and it appears that John Benington has something about to go to press with Mark Moore about it: 
“Public value means what is added to the public sphere and this may be social or economic, or it may be political, environmental or even more broadly about quality of the life.”…”In addition, a public value perspective requires examining the impact of public services on ‘customers’ and users but also the impact on them as citizens.”

Similarly, in terms of targets, they expect: “a wider view of organisational performance than imposed (or self-imposed) inputs or activity targets, but rather to think about the values and purposes to which the talents of Public Sector managers and leaders are being put.” 

Finally they conclude:  “This suggests that generic leadership and management theory may not be universally applied, but rather that there are some issues which require consideration of context and circumstance.” (Christensen et al – Christensen T, Laegreid P, Roness P and Røvik K (2007) Organisation Theory for the Public Sector London: Routledge.

If that wasn’t enough to link with the blogger, Sunningdale is the home of the CIO Council and the Local CIO Council, the latter of which includes the blogger.


New blogger on the street

July 29, 2009

As a member of the Local CIO Council I know John Suffolk, Her Majesty’s Government’s Chief Information Officer and the person responsible for the existence of the Local CIO Council. However, it took Public Sector Forums to advise me of his new blog. As I should have already written, I’d met and spoken to John in July at ECEG 2009 before he’d opened the second day with a presentation about the future of e-government. In the blog John develops upon the presentation he gave, along with the goings on at the CIO Council.

It also informs me of what I’d missed at the last CIO meeting, since being ‘down south’ for the conference I needed to get back to work and couldn’t attend. It was apparently regaled by  Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt assisting thoughts on the way forward for government IT and e-government, so I look forward to the next meeting of the council, along with the up and coming entries on John’s blog.

A single criticism, as if I’d dare, but where are the mentions of multi-channel operation, citizens, metrics - those little things that have been swept under the e-government carpet for the last ten years?

I’ve added it to my blogroll, anyway!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 39 other followers