Researching local government, Web 2.0 and Service-oriented architecture

Adrian Barker of the IDeA posted the following on his blog on the 30th August 2008

“Practical, up-to-date research?

Read a fascinating article [1] today which uses a mixture of statistical techniques and semi-structured interviews to show that inspection on its own has no impact on performance, that a strategy of innovation does, and that supportive inspection can enhance an innovative strategy.

Good as this is, it was published in 2008, the article was submitted in May 2006, based on fieldwork in 2002-3.  I don’t blame the researchers: that’s the way the system works, but there must be innovative ways to combine current practitioner insights with academic rigour to produce practically useful research with rapid turnaround.  Sounds like a job for LARCI.

[1] Rhys Andrews, George Boyne, Jennifer Law and Richard Walker, ‘Organizational Strategy, External Regulation and Public Service Performance’, Public Administration, Vol. 86, No. 1, 2008 (185-203).

http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/119395659/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0

I actually got to it later at:

http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/119395659/PDFSTART

In response I posted the following on 1st September 2008:

“Adrian

Interesting post and I’ll read the paper once I’m at home – work system doesn’t like cookies and Interscience forces one!

As a current practioner/researcher (as you know) there are reasons for this that LARCI won’t influence:

My current research questionnaire (13 questions) has managed around 31 responses – hardly statistically significant but my supervisors consider that good for local government! In fact when I circulated the link to the questionnaire at a meeting the President of Socitm stated that he didn’t respond to academic research because ‘once they’d got you they never let you alone’. So researchers find getting feedback out of government like getting s**t out of a rocking horse! So not a popular topic.

Papers take some time to turn around with peer-review unless you are lucky! If a reviewer reccomends major changes it can take ages and then has to go through the process again! Luck has a lot to answer for. I submitted a paper at the start of this year April and the conference is in September – that’s pretty fast! I’m currently drafting abstracts for 12 months ahead – you also need to be psychic!

I know people get bothered by undergraduate or MBA researchers but the only way to train people is to let them loose! I am provisionally presenting work through ESD-toolkit and EIP to get it out to the practitioners along with the blog – any other suggestions? I’m not sure the CO, DCLG or AC want to know the truth otherwise they might assist but I’m always impressed by Audit Scotland and CIPFA who circulate some good stuff!”

Research was never easy but practical research in the government community is a cross only a few demented people seem to chose!

Dave Briggs circulated the following:

“Just a quick note to inform you all about an event I’m running with Peterborough City Council for local government types to find out about what’s going on in the sector with social media, web 2.0 and whatnot.

More info at http://davepress.net/2008/09/01/readwritegov/ with booking at http://readwritegov.eventbrite.com/

To which I reponded:

“Thanks Dave, I’ll circulate to colleagues – is it in competition with the Socitm event? 😉
http://www.socitm.gov.uk/socitm/Events/Web+2+seminar+10+September+2008.htm
By the way, I was reading up on the history of SOA (service oriented architecture), which was posited by a Gartner consultant (Yefim Natis in 1996) and there is a recent Gartner paper suggesting that Web 2.0 is distracting from SOA, which should be the real concern. Its one of those front versus back office dialogues. This is in the general business sector.

For the public sector, to confuse metters, I’m trying to develop a Citizen Oriented Architecture which is a mix of front office and performance tools that could then meet with the back-office SOA.

Any views on SOA versus Web 2.0?”

And I’ll ask here, too – any views on SOA versus Web 2.0 – is it the cart before the horse or what? Of course one does need to have done one’s system/process stuff before implementing SOA but scraping, blogging and mashups are very front-end tools!

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One Response to Researching local government, Web 2.0 and Service-oriented architecture

  1. The presidential campaigns used new tools in their strategies to engage people. The financial manager and their staffs need to become familiar with these new tools and incorporate them into their strategies. The major change required for these new tools is that finance must be more proactive rather than reactive, with results examined in real time.

    · Internet —We need to monitor the changes in the Internet (the enormous network of networks connecting disparate computers using languages called protocols). Internet Protocol Version 6 (aka IPV6) has now expanded the addresses and tags that can be used. Have our governments transitioned to IPV6?

    · Web—We need to accommodate the different vehicles that customers use to travel on the “http” protocol to visit our sites. Can the different vehicles (MS Internet Explorer or Firefox or Safari or on a Web-enabled phone or PDA) that visitors use to access out sites allow them to seamlessly navigate through our Web pages?

    · XML—Do our Web pages use of “eXtensible Markup Language” utilize well-formed and valid smart tags with corresponding end tags to get the user where she or he needs to go?

    · XBRL—Are we presenting our financial documents—PAR, budget, CAFR or PAFR—into “eXtensible Business Reporting Language” to our customers so that they are not seeing a large financial document as a mere block of text but rather as a set of smart tags for the different parts (assets, liabilities, net assets, revenues, expenditures) that can be drilled down to the lowest level?

    · Wikis—Are we using “What I Know Is” tools, internally and externally, to aggregate and share financial information on an ongoing basis in a collaborative manner?

    · Blogs—Are we utilizing blogs to discuss financial topics and issues, internally and externally, to enhance and refine ideas, opinions and approaches in a collaborative manner?

    · Social Bookmarking—Are we engaging the customers of our financial information by inquiring what they want to know (categorize whether it is a salary or revenue query) and where they go (assigning a tag—bookmark) to find it? Do we examine these social bookmarks to modify or adapt our financial information based on user trends?

    · Social Media —Are we creating financial information forums utilizing blogs, Wikis, podcasts, MySpace, Facebook, Youmeo, Twitter or Plaxo to keep in touch with our users of financial information?

    · Collaboration—If we do not manage collaboratively now, then what do we need to learn about it to enable us to take advantage of collaborative tools like Google Docs or MS SharePoint? Do our Intranet websites allow for collaboration? What is our government’s or agency’s strategy on collaboration?

    If you expect that citizens and customers will wait for you to implement the above, or come to you asking you to implement the above, then nothing will change. I believe that we must engage our customers about government finance with these existing tools. I believe that the government budget, accounting and auditing professions must incorporate these tools into their existing strategies. The easiest way to implement them is to incorporate them, where appropriate, into your defined business processes. If presidential campaigns can use these tools with people all across the country, many of whom never met face-to-face, then why can’t government finance do the same?

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