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!

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A lesson in efficiency

August 5, 2010

In the Municipal Journal of 22 July 2010 is a piece by Paul Bradbury of Civica entitled “budgets & efficiency – there is thinking outside of the box”. The piece draws upon public finance body CIPFA‘s survey of finance directors in April. As one can probably intuit the survey was sponsored by Civica.

Surprise, surprise that two of the bullet-pointed ‘strategic responses’ identified both by the survey and Civica were “extending outsourcing as part of a pragmatic service delivery mix, and using managed IT and related business services”, along with “re-engineering entire frontline to back-office processes at the corporate departmental level”.

No argument with the second one but advise doing it BEFORE outsourcing, otherwise you are giving away ALL the profit, however the first one should be a dead duck in the water from experiences of ten years of e-government! Strategically having ones IT managed, if one has a suitable contract in place is one thing, but you can just look back at the cases where it has been brought back in-house, or would have been if the financial penalties hadn’t been so large.

With G-Cloud looming the possibilities for managed IT are formidable, but does this require outsourcing, I don’t think so.


Citizen engagement

August 3, 2010

I’d hate to fall out with William Heath but one of his latest posts about the private sector holding citizen data I found challenging from my situation as an experienced IT worker, government employee and representative on various local government IT bodies, plus a long association with the voluntary sector.

One of the conundrums of government is that is delivers a lot of different services, some of them of critical importance to the well-being of many people. The data it holds is frequently necessary for that service delivery. Every time there is an issue where one arm of government, perhaps the police, is not privy to something held by social services, there is uproar about the lack of data sharing. Every time someone, usually in central government and frequently detached from the person-in-the-street, loses some data there is also uproar.

William’s solution appears to be to give citizens control  of that data. Can anyone in their right mind see a child abuser or someone with mental health issues maintaining their data correctly? I’m not saying the state is any better at holding the data than the private sector, but they do not have the same interests. The private sector has to make a profit. How will it do this but by charging potential users of the data for access to it?

With the approaching G-Cloud and Public Sector Network there is a big debate about who holds what data where. The ‘blue light’ services are emphatic about the need to have data at their finger-tips, they also know from many recent cases that this has to be shared relatively easily and quickly with others, as does child protection data, mental health records and much other data from other sources.

If the concensus answer is not to share data then don’t come out with screams of outrage when children die from neglect, abuse or attack. This is an extreme example of data sharing, but there are a lot more less critcal ones where data sharing is beneficial to the data subject.

Let’s try and view this in the round, rather than constructing some sort of shoddy data edifice that will crumble at the first push!


Analogues of service

November 5, 2009

The current edition of Government Computing magazine contains an interview with Kevin Carey of ATcare and chair of HumanITy and the RNIB.

The interview is a fascinating insight into what accessibility should be about by someone with a disability and experience of exclusion having become blind in early adulthood. Carey argues for server-based computing, perhaps what we’ll get with the “government cloud” (G-Cloud) of the future, but is currently delivered by the likes of MS Terminal Services and Citrix. Carey also pushes for greater use of SMS, which I can understand but as a delivery agent the progression of this is only stifled by the public’s frequest change of mobile phone numbers and unwillingness to provide them to goovernment agencies – perhaps they’re getting less shy?

My major agreement with Carey is on e-services and e-forms trying to replicate existing paper-based ones – the analogues of the title, and I agree with the need to simplify systems and change legislation to get over some of the current problems.

He’s also right about overloaded home pages and those with fast-moving Java applications – not very nice looking either!

If anybody has trouble getting a copy, since Kable don’t appear to do it electronically, email me and I’ll send a e-copy, if that’s not breaking too many laws?