Local e-government

October 17, 2010

Thanks to a posting on e Gov monitor I became aware of a conference to be held in Ghent and Brussels in Belgium on the 14th through 16th December 2010. One of the highlights will be the opening presentation by Vivek Kundra the US CIO, and the two of the break-outs on day three are chaired by Tom Steinberg and Martha Lane-Fox. The schedule can be viewed on the conference web site.

One of the interesting matters raised in the preview of a presentation on the e Gov Monitor site is the outcomes of research conducted by University College, Ghent around Flemish local administration. What it highlights is the tendency for each local administrative unit to develop its own ICT solution with no overall coordination, which is my experience in England over much of the last ten years.

Despite the numerous acknowledged benefits that are possible with e-government, the research identifies the major threats which include the ‘splendid isolation’ that departments operate within, with “no data, no-how or processes” being shared. This results in applications being developed in isolation and untransferrable to other departments. In addition, there is no evaluation of processes prior to automation. Further, the culture around sharing or working together is absent, similarly the bird’s-eye view of the entire organization is lacking, which affects the policy or strategy developed.

It looks like the blame for the outcomes of the research will be laid firmly at the door of senior management, who should have provided greater control and directed partnership working.

Now, where have I heard that before?

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Staring across the pond

April 7, 2010

On Federal News Radio (1500 AM) on the 17 March 2010 was a report on the US federal Chief Information Officer’s (Vivek Kundra) new approach. A lot of what is stated resonates with my research in the UK, along with what I hear on a daily basis. 

There is a big investment in IT in Kundra’s department, $35 million, which is apparently more than it got over the last seven years in total! It looks like it’s a focused spend on making those citizen services that will be used electronically to be made so.

There is also a move against silos, with data consolidation and cloud computing being high on the agenda, along with the piloting of various and increasing the number of datasets on open.gov to more than 250,000.

As has been stated, our own newly laid out Government IT Strategy is not very far off the US one, but what will be interesting on both sides of the Atlantic is how those silos will be broken down, since both accept that “webifying” silos is wasted money.

This also runs very parallel with Michael Cross’s latest piece in the Guardian which also strongly resonates with the sentiments I have frequently and quite recently expressed in posts here. Unfortunately, after years of spending, the Treasury want some money back, and whilst central government will probably continue to swallow large quantities of cash (no matter which government gets in) local authorities will be scratching around, now that the e-government cash has gone.