Let’s start a petition!

November 23, 2010

According to The Guardian 22 November 2010, the e-petition feature that adorned the No 10 website prior to the election is unlikely to return. The feature, which became quite attractive to many trying to influence government was withdrawn during the election ‘purdah’, and then apparently stayed down as part of the DirectGov review by Martha Lane-Fox and so does not appear so popular with parliamentarians!

Whilst local government is still preparing for its petitions and e-petitions parade, which parliament commanded, it would appear that what is suitable for one is bunch of politicians is not for their Whitehall relations? Does anyone feel up to starting a petition about it?

Having said that, the above-mentioned report that Martha Lane-Fox delivered to Francis Maude on the 14th October was finally officially released today (23rd November 2010) as an eleven page letter entitled “DirectGov 2010 and beyond: Revolution not Evolution“. Following on the tradition of its predecessors in government the consultation was with “more than 50 leaders from business and the public sector”. Ms Lane-Fox also had discussions with a suitably brainy bunch from business and academia. So citizens were not worthy of consultation! I would ask how one can demand a service culture from government, when in terms of consultation one doesn’t do that oneself? Everything in Ms Lane-Fox’s world would seem to emulate the world of e-business before the great crash-and-burn.

I would have no arguments with the rationalisation and de-duplication, but it is rather stating the obvious, however ultimately what is needed with her concept of syndicated content is a little more than a kite mark to ensure the citizen has in their grasp the most up-to-date and official government content. There is a great deal of archived material on the Internet and getting to the correct version in a syndicated world is difficult, as any researcher will tell you.

Ultimately there is no mention of local government, which someone should remind her has the majority of dealing with citizens, so what is in store for us is entirely guesswork. With the 700+ services my advice is to ensure we have standards to enable links from any Local DirectGov find the correct information and start preparing now.  This means meaningful metadata, using the Local Government Service List, IPSV and all those other lists so arduously developed in the last 12 years.