The case is adjourned

January 4, 2010

Tucked away amongst the Christmas holiday reading was a post on his blog in Computer Weekly by Philip Virgo entitled “The case for e-Government values your time at zero.” Philip, of course, has something of a connection with electronic government having been Secretary General of EURIM (the Parliamentary/industry Information Society allance) since 1996, so should be worth listening to. It’s also not the first time he’s been mentioned here, about “Why e-government fails“!

Unlike the title infers, this is less an indictment of e-government for not delivering, than a critique of the actual use of technology and the many who are excluded for one reason or another. For example the second paragraph starts with “Most ICT surveys count “users” of a product or service as those who have used it at least once. They consequently delude themselves and their marketing departments with claims of market size and share.” This a common failing of many of the rationales for e-government expansion.

In the penultimate paragraph he also reminds us that: “The growth in the number of elderly, with a consequent growth in numbers with impaired eyesight and/or hearing, calls into question the growing reliance on screen and keyboard or call centre for contact between those in need of service in the inner cities, suburbs and rural areas and those delivering it to them.” I read this as a rejoinder to preserve, faciltate or develop quality mediated services whenever electronic government is thought of.

Philip states that he intends to blog his submission to the “Ideal Government challenge” shortly, and encourages us to bear his comments in mind if we do so.

Inclusive transformation

August 28, 2008


At the end of July, EURIM ( the independent, UK-based, all-party Parliament-Industry group launched the report on its investigation into transformational government. It had John Suffolk, the government CIO, and Sir David Varney, advisor to the Prime Minister on public service transformation  amongst its witnesses. The report is brief, only eight pages with lots of white space, so not a hard read and page seven contains its list of twelve (strong) recommendations, numbers one, two and four of which I particularly liked and present here:

“1. Parliamentarians, especially those serving on Select Committees, take an active role in the governance of Transformational Government policy. There is a need for pre- and post- legislative scrutiny in order to help counter the disengagement between policy and delivery, and to offset some of the disadvantages associated with the change of personnel, often including ministers, in the time between primary and secondary legislation.

2. Select Committees actively use the powers they have to co-operate across departmental boundaries and to ensure that the biggest risks to this project are monitored, and are managed, so as to identify and praise good practice, ensuring that transformation leads to better services, not just cost-savings within silos.

4. Service providers also collectively agree and publish clear professional guidance on best practice performance management and measurement of success to better align resources and close the ‘policy to execution’ divide , including the importance of appropriate base-lines and benchmarks for target setting and performance monitoring;”

I look forward to the implementation of them all!