December 21, 2010

It’s all happening in Belgium! I blogged on 17 October about the conference that has been taking place there on 14/16 December 2010 that would be attended by a range of e-government celebrities. To coincide with the event a whole range of documents and speeches would appear to have been published.

One of these, a speech by Geert Bourgeois, Vice-Minister-President of the Flemish Government and Flemish Minister for Administrative Affairs, Local and Provincial Government, announced the launch of the Citadel Statement, to assist local government  to deliver on the vision on the Malmo Ministerial Declaration, which occurred in Ghent. Another, apparently related event in Brussels, was the launch of the European Commission Action Plan 2011-2015 by Neelie Kroes, the Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda at the “Lift-Off towards Open Government” conference on the 15 December 2010.

The EC plan says that the EC will:

  • “use eProcurement
  • rationalise our web presence and ICT back office
  • adopt an open data strategy, and look at setting up a portal for EU open data
  • to encourage others to match and beat us in the effort to open up data; and
  • take steps towards going paperless

Significantly, we will promote and help Member States develop a comprehensive policy on electronic identity management.”

(That final one may concern a number of anti-ID card campaigners in the UK – I was always concerned about the pressures to conform to the EC model.

Somewhat in contrast, the main concerns of the Citadel Statement are:

  • Common architecture, shared services and standards
  • Develop clear guidelines and data models for the use of personal details about citizens
  • Provide guidelines, training and methodologies on involving citizens in decision-making and service design
  • Promote the concept of Broadband as a public utility that should be available to all communities no matter how small or geographically dispersed

Demonstrating that local government has a somewhat different focus to the national ones! In fact Andrea di Maio has dedicated posts both to the “Lift Off” Conference and to the Action Plan, missing out on the Citadel Statement altogether, whilst describing the EC one as a missed opportunity, although providing the commission with the opportunity to spend lots of money.

The contrasting approach between the national and local is likely to replicate the historical role of e-government, where the citizen comes out worse! Let us in the UK hope that the eagerly awaited central government IT Strategy is taking account of the local delivery of services by councils.


The crowd in the cloud

November 21, 2010

Andrea di Maio has hit the nail on the head with a recent post following yet another ‘cloud’ discussion, this time in Brussels, at the Government Leaders Forum.

He states that “One great observation that was raised during one of the sessions was that e-government has achieved little more than automating or, at most, optimizing existing bureaucratic processes. Only very rarely have government organizations and vendors taken an opportunity to deeply change a service, even less challenge its need (eg by proposing a technology-intensive alternative). But now technology is the hands of people, the so-called crowd, which comprises many stakeholders, inside and outside government. They can be agents of change, they can reach out to other people, to unprecedented amounts of information, and re-invent the way they do their job.”

The critique of e-government and the forward trend of technology suppliers, doing what they’ve always done, is spot on and we have to look at new ways of doing things. However, our biggest challenge is the politicians. Doing things the way the citizen wants them is rather contrary to the way many career politic0s see their role, I imagine.

The ‘cloud’ is just a way of delivering ICT, it may be a shift in technology but hardly a paradigm one for citizen participation.

We are the CHAMPS

November 4, 2010

Whilst we were at the Local CIO Council meeting on the 3 November 2010, Glyn Evans of Birmingham City Council proudly announced the ‘official’ launch later that day of CHAMPS2.

In their own words “CHAMPS2 is a vision led, benefits driven business change method which is broad in scope and encompasses the whole business change journey. It helps you define your organisation’s strategic needs, and then provides a tailored route to ensure that the desired outcomes are achieved”.

Even better, it’s free!

If that wasn’t enough, although the consultation is over for the moment, the guidelines for open data publication are available from the Socitm, CIPFA, LeGSB, LGA, CLG group that has been working on them. So if you are in the UK, or even if you are not, you may find the LG Group Transparency Programme of interest?

Even better, we had a brief but beneficial discussion with Andrea di Maio about Clouds, G-Clouds and related matters. Nice  to finally see him in the flesh!

Bubbling under

September 29, 2010

A welcome return to Andrea di Maio and an issue that he raises, not that I’ve been ignoring him or inferring that he’s said nothing worthwhile in the meantime. In a piece on his blog from 24 September entitled “Eparticipation in Europe – living in a bubble” he successfully notes that whilst most of the money is at a EC level, the need or expectation is at a local one, secondly that those into e-participation have built a self-sustaining community focused on e-participation as an end in itself.

Andrea states that:

“Of course opening additional channels to citizens to intervene more effectively in the policy-making process makes a great deal of sense.

The problem remains of whether this is exactly what people are looking for. In a democracy each of us expects to outsource policy making and participation to one or several democratically elected representatives. While putting us in closer touch with our representatives is a valid objective, so that they get a better feel about our wants and needs is essential, the value of enhancing our individual ability to directly influence parliamentary processes is more questionable.”

This aligns well with my own theory that e-democracy is one of the antimonies of e-government. It was assumed by some to be an integral part of e-government, frequently whispered about but never delivered. With e-government being the natural heir of neo-liberal New Public Management, one could not follow the other – one cannot have marketization of the polis delivering deliberative or direct democracy. All e-particpation can currently offer is an electronic version of the less-than-satisfactory process we have now.

So how do we join the two?

Gartner Open Government model

July 8, 2010

Andrea Di Maio announced on June 28 2010 the publication by Gartner of their Open Government Maturity Model. I don’t have access to the research note and he states that they will ‘socialize’ the model at forthcoming events, and it’s a little unclear without the supporting materials. However, at first (and even second and third) glance it doesn’t appear dissimilar to the ‘Ladder of Participation’ by the late and much referenced Sherry Arnstein that I discussed in March 2009.

What would be interesting to see from the research notes is their approach to social media, who should be in charge and what element of public value is most important? Mind you, whether any local authorities will take sufficient notice to restructure their IT and communications around the model remains to be seen.

I also ponder what efforts can be made by small local authorities, in these financially difficult times,  to be seen to be more open and one solution appears to be through openlylocal, and advice can also be derived through the appropriate IDeA Community of Practice. I still believe some work on local government standards in these areas might pay off in the long term and save us getting crucified by suppliers as usual, or has someone done it?