An summary of some recent post on the UK E-Democracy network

May 31, 2008

In government circles we have long been expected to follow Prince 2 project management principles and define what we were expecting to achieve before we set out. In central government ‘gateway reviews’ are supposed to be de facto prior to spending the bulk of the project monies. Then at the end, some sort of post-project review is supposed to be carried out to present the success or otherwise and any lessons learned etc…

I think perhaps first of all we need to know what the great British public expect of e-Democracy or even Democracy and attempt to champion that.

As with everything e-, there is an assumption that it will be used, is cheaper and better.

Where is the evidence? OK, I can contact my local councillor by email, it doesn’t mean that the answer is any better than if I’d waited to a response to a voicemail or letter, they’ll still be waiting on a response from a council worker. What it might mean is that I’ve jumped the queue on the person without access to email.

As I’ve stated before there is great potential for improving services, including the democratic ones but fundamentally it’s the process behind it, and it has to recognise that some will never be able to use it and that shouldn’t reduce their chances of being heard.

Rather than assumptions, I’d like to see more evidence from this country (cultures and systems vary, along with connectivity). This includes more ‘measured’ pilots.

What I do think is missing is any review (post-implementation review, lessons learned etc) that might guide those still trying to steer the little e-ships.

If X could say we did Y and it didn’t work, so try Z. If we had clear case studies that weren’t value laden…etc

Trying to coax councillors into believing that e- is worth it is hard. Trying to get their electorate to accept the expenditure is equally hard. It can only be supported by successful pilots.

I suspected at the end of the e-Government Unit that much documentation would vapourise, so saved what I wanted for research purposes then. The post BVPI157 review appears to have been: “well done, you all did it, cheers, goodbye!