Less e-paper!

June 28, 2011

Within the new Singaporean eGov2015 masterplan is an interesting concept that I hope will catch on elsewhere – “the government will continue to streamline the number of transactions, reduce the steps required to complete them, and where possible, eliminate such transactions altogether”. Imagine that, eliminating an unnecessary transaction! How many of those must we all face?

At the same Egov Global Exchange conference Steve Bittinger, Gartner’s research director for government research, is reported to have identied the commoditization of IT infrastructure and services, and seamless socialization and collaboration, as being among the current key trends impacting the public sector and that with movement toward shared services and the cloud, government IT departments will also face changes, forecasting that within four years about half of government shared services and centralization initiatives will be supplemented by public or community clouds, resulting in job reductions for infrastructure and operational services of 20 percent. This is something accepted and trying to be planned for in the Socitm ‘Planting the Flag‘ strategy for the UK. What we must concentrate on is improving services during these massive changes.


Digital agenda

February 8, 2011

With the UK central government IT strategy approaching (possibly the end of February now), along with the local government equivalent (expected May 2011), it was with interest that I read Andrea di Maio’s blog posting of 4th February 2011 entitled “how to implement a digital agenda or an e-government strategy”.

Andrea provides links to some Gartner guidance such as the E-Government Assessment Questionnaire and the Open Government Maturity Model , the first of which requires a Gartner subscription – nice sales technique Andrea!

As is sometimes the case, Andrea, disappointed with his native Italy’s approach but he’s not wrong to suggest that to stand in isolation without learning from the success and failure of others, is a foolish way to develop a strategy. Gartner can teach you this, but so can a modicum of personal research, as the old adage goes “a consultant is a person who borrows your watch, tells you what time it is, pockets the watch, and sends you a bill for it”.

Nothing personal Andrea!

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?

Web 2.0 and benchmarking

July 7, 2009

Two or more recent on-topic posts from Gartner blogger Andrea di Maio. In the most recent Andrea considers how enthusiasm for Web 2.o might shift away from being profitable to the private sector – Why The IT Industry Could Derail Government 2.0 – which takes a very big picture and has an essence of ‘may happen’. This contrasts somewhat with the excess spin put on the topic by Accenture in ‘Web 2.0 and the Next Generation of Public Service’, which is only compensated by their ‘Public Service Value Governance Framework’, which my set the thing in context.

The post before it (Cool idea from an unlikely vendor)  from Andrea also heralds a warning, a government supplier demonstrating a simple Web 2.0 e-government solution. I’d thought that was the essence of it all, the provision by government of datasets, widgets etc so the citizen could, without much difficulty get what they want, if they wanted to.

I think Clayton M. Christensen’s book The Innovator’s Dilemma has something to say on both the previous – and its largely that those already heavily in the market don’t innovate.

The other July post from Andrea picks up on the issue of another contract from the EC to CapGemini to do yet another round of benchmarking e-government – what a waste of tax-payers money. Has the last seven years work delivered anything of value to require another four of the same? I doubt it!

Why bother?

December 29, 2008

I had started academic research before the Millennium examining the challenges to District Councils in England, this had confirmed my suspicions that a lack of integration, citizen-focus and partnership working were drawbacks, perhaps as a result of the centrally-imposed targets and laterly  the Priority Service Outcomes that were to be detailed following 2001.

Even more contradictory was the lack of consideration for the Community Planning aspect of the Modernising Government agenda. I had discussed a joint piece of work with a regional university around examining citizens’ views of service delivery arrangements in parallel with views on meeting the electronic targets being attempted, but unfortunately pressures to meet the targets didn’t leave enough time to carry out the research further.

Following the target deadline I breathed a sigh of relief and was left attempting to embed the learning of the last few years with providing services in the manner wanted by the citizen. At this point I attempted again to consider the research and contacted a university that had a history of work in local government, digital inclusion and electronic voting, De Montfort, with a research proposal, which was accepted! Unfortunately or fortunately I was then seriously ill but the period of rest and recuperation gave me time to focus on reading and the the reading distracted me from the gravity of my situation.

The reading indicated that very little academic work had still been done on e-government and that studies by the likes of Gartner Research had revealed some quite complex systems for measuring electronic service delivery that were probably only fit for national governments. What was also revealed was a long running debate as to whether government was dealing with customers or citizens, with most of the votes in favour of calling the people a government deals with citizens, this included the Government of Canada supporting the move. Another long running piece of work review ended up around assessing customer satisfaction, which along with measuring the gap between expectation and delivery, has seen a great number of papers published but no great conclusions made.

The recent favourite approach in business is to employ customer engagement measurement rather than customer relationship management and this I conclude is a viable approach, which is that by pushing for and collating feedback from all customers, which, in the context of government, I prefer to call citizens, across all channels, we can try  to improve issues in end-to-end services by correcting them using the feedback.

We still have a long way to go in channel management and  I think citizen engagement management is a move in the right direction, it will also assist in both avoiding digital exclusion issues along with creating quality services, It was also the approach I took when I created the blog http://greatemancipator.com, in order to discuss these issues and promote them amongst practitioners. Academic research tends to be focused on learn-ed conferences, very wordy and expensive journals, so my approach of sticking the outcomes under the nose of anyone interested and asking for their participation seemed a sensible approach.

In the New Year I intend to have another survey along with starting a series of interviews with particularly appropriate individuals. Any volunteers or suggestions?

Season’s greetings and a prosperous new year to everyone!