E-GOVERNMENT BULLETIN – ISSUE 262, 28 April 2008

++Section Two: Policy

– E-Government Metrics.

+07: Introducing The Great E-mancipator

by Mick Phythian.

Back in the days before Implementing Electronic Government Statements (IEGs) and Priority Service Outcomes (PSOs), a local authority IT manager filled some of his evenings writing a thesis entitled ‘Service delivery using internet technologies.’

The data, to which many district councils contributed, was shortly afterwards subjected to further analysis and with Bill Taylor the manager published it as a paper entitled ‘Progress in electronic service delivery by English district councils.’ He also wrote a piece for E- Government Bulletin in 2001 entitled ‘Fighting their corner – the problems of territorialism’, which argued for greater co-operation between government bodies to further e-government.

As the IEGs wore on and wore him out, the manager was sure things could be done differently, but had less and less time to ponder great thoughts. He worked in sub-regional and regional partnerships, Socitm, the ESD-Toolkit and Exchanging Information with the Public (EIP) but the frustration with the duplication haunted him. Then one day, long after the heady times of IEGs and PSOs, he felt another piece of research coming on.

What had been missed during that period, the manager believed, was some way of obtaining a wholesale view of what the public, citizens or customers wanted or did not want from electronic service delivery, and having some way of measuring it. Lacking the steely will and discipline to just start the research the IT manager floated the idea of making it a doctoral dissertation and as the outline developed the concept found some moral support from colleagues and academics, which instead of dissuading him, simply encouraged him further.

Thus it was that this manager became an addict of Google Scholar and various university libraries, as well as a subscriber to a range of mailing lists and web forums on the various topics within electronic or transformational government. He pulled a title together, tidied up the outline with some academic references to satisfy the university paperwork, and read and read and read.

And so to today. With currently over 200 references and approaching 20,000 words, I – for I am that manager – have arrived at the stage of asking people for answers, instead of just looking in books and journals. The literature, so far, has indicated that improvements for the citizen are dependent upon organisational change involving the end-to- end processes, that benchmarks or metrics have been absent but that customer satisfaction may be of use in determining movements in public value or social capital brought about by transformation. It has also suggested that there is a strong historical basis for many of the government structures and care needs to be observed when changing them. The latter is a nod in the direction of New Public Management (NPM) that was, and still is in some places, a fad prior to electronic government and which has created some of the issues that transformational government potentially has to resolve.

The research methodology that I settled on was Action Research. This enables me to consult directly with the community of users and feed back to them without the probable wait involved for the completion of the research or inaccessible academic papers.

So in order to establish a conversation with those at the t-government coalface I have established a weblog entitled The Great E-mancipator –  

https://greatemancipator.wordpress.com – containing extracts of the research, models that come to mind, with the opportunity to comment, along with linking off to occasional surveys that can get some background to what is happening and what is wanted, which enables me to propose or develop any models with some sort of consensus support.
The title of the blog refers to Abraham Lincoln, known as the ‘Great Emancipator’, who was assassinated on 14 April 1865, precisely 143 years before the creation of the blog.

Everyone is invited to contribute opinions to the site (I’m an IT manager, I have no feelings!) and local government practitioners are begged to respond to an initial thirteen-question survey. Although the quantitative data is not expected to be representative, it would be useful to have as many practical solutions or propositions from the real world as possible.

[Section Two ends].

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