Skip to main content
eGovernment - Read the Small Print First 
Britain isn’t alone worrying about the creeping growth of red-tape and regulatory interference that even eGovernment only appears to fuel with greater enthusiasm from Whitehall.

Europe we all know about to our collective cost, the Euro-banana playing its own vital part in European Union enlargement but in the United States too, The Washington Times, this month expressed its concern at ‘Regulation therapy’, asking readers if they believed that the benefits of government regulation should exceed their costs?  It reminded its readers that in 1937, a presidential commission told Franklin D. Roosevelt that all the new regulatory agencies he had created under the ‘New Deal’, constituted, "a headless fourth branch of government, a haphazard deposit of irresponsible agencies and uncoordinated powers" and that was without a Ministry of Constitutional Affairs; part of a another new deal, on this side of the Atlantic, which has had fifteen new regulations created every day since 1997.
Ambitious and expensive eGovernment projects were supposed to have reduced the bureaucratic creep of central government or at least, that’s what I thought in my own naivety when I was involved with the Cabinet Office when it first became excited at the prospect of ‘eGovernment at its best’.  Instead, I see a great many useful websites that few people bother to visit and the appearance of a society where eGovernment is good for them and of little real value to us and where for every job the private sector lost last year, the public sector took on almost two jobs, not quite the lean, mean digitally streamlined government I had in mind in 2000
There is massive scepticism in the competence of government and its suppliers to deliver the savings and efficiency improvements being promised. Too few government regulations are subjected to rigorous cost-benefit tests and even with the pieces in place, such as the Gateway Review process, e-Gif standards and Framework Contracts, Whitehall appears trapped on a well-worn path to failure, as one ‘Transformation’ exercise follows another into a bottomless pit of consultancy fees and taxpayers expenditure; Pathway, The CSA, The DSS Operational Strategy, The National Plan for Health Service IT and ultimately, the ill-considered plans for a National ID card .
Of course, all central government programmes should pass through the full Gateway process with the comments on those which go forward made available to the National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee and I agree with the sensible argument that the details of winning bids, including performance monitoring and change control processes should  be placed in the public domain unless they affect national security and not possibly  the MOD drinks and entertainment budget, which my wife, who used to be an MOD press officer, tells me is an official secret.
A week ago, the Chancellor, who has a touching faith in technology, told MPs that the Government's £6 billion investment in ICT had allowed a gross reduction of 84,150 public sector posts in England, almost double that announced in the last Budget. After re-deployment of staff, the net loss will be 70,600 jobs.  As a somewhat cynical and jaded observer, I would comment that given Government’s record of managing IT to date; hell is likely to freeze over before Gordon Brown achieves even 10% of his target. Instead, I’ll remind you, that last year, 88,000 extra people were employed to work in education; just 14,000 of these were teachers or teaching assistants and as a result, I expect Gordon’s trust in IT to drive a net increase in civil servants in the short term at least.
Isn’t eGovernment a wonderful thing?


Popular posts from this blog

Mainframe to Mobile

Not one of us has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we are all preparing for that future – As  computing power has become embedded in everything from our cars and our telephones to our financial markets, technological complexity has eclipsed our ability to comprehend it’s bigger picture impact on the shape of tomorrow.

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. In March 1953. there were only 53 kilobytes of high-speed RAM on the entire planet.

Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of FTSE 500* firms is ‘now dark matter’: the intangible secret recipe of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wages bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that once prevailed in the 1970s. Very soon, Everything at scale in this world will be managed by algorithms and data and there’s a need for effective platforms for ma…
The Mandate of Heaven

eGov Monitor Version

“Parliament”, said my distinguished friend “has always leaked like a sieve”.

I’m researching the thorny issue of ‘Confidence in Public Sector Computing’ and we were discussing the dangers presented by the Internet. In his opinion, information security is an oxymoron, which has no place being discussed in a Parliament built upon the uninterrupted flow of information of every kind, from the politically sensitive to the most salacious and mundane.

With the threat of war hanging over us, I asked if MPs should be more aware of the risks that surround this new communications medium? More importantly, shouldn’t the same policies and precautions that any business might use to protect itself and its staff, be available to MPs?

What concerns me is that my well-respected friend mostly considers security in terms of guns, gates and guards. He now uses the Internet almost as much as he uses the telephone and the Fax machine and yet the growing collective t…

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.

In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …