Opening up parliament and getting government IT right

Last week I received two invitations to present.

The first was an invitation to present to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics. They are preparing a report on Open Government and would like me to make a short presentation and then answer questions for a couple of hours. This is a ways out but obviously I’m treating it with a significant amount of seriousness – so if you have thoughts or comments on things you think I should share, please feel free to ping me or comment below.

(Speaking of parliament… as an aside, I want again to let developers there know that through some engagement I’ve been having with the parliamentary IT staff they’ve informed me they will be releasing a number of data sets in January including the Hansard.)

Second is, next week, I’ll be at the United Nations as part of the Expert Group Meeting on the 2012 e-Government Survey: Towards a More Citizen-Centric Approach. My main goal here is to stop getting governments to compare themselves to one another on how “successful” they are in delivering services and information online. With a few notable exceptions, most government websites are at best functional at worst, unnavigable.  Consequently, comparing themselves to one another allows them to feel like all is okay, when really they are collectively trapped in a world of design mediocrity.

Yes, they aren’t pretty words, but someone has to say them.

So any thoughts on this subject are welcome as well.

More soon on the hackathon and the census.

4 thoughts on “Opening up parliament and getting government IT right

  1. Anonymous

    It’s very true. Benchmarking efforts are so much a part of the “religion” of organizations these days, that no one seems to question them. I think they’re mostly good, but definitely can result in a group of organizations being too satisfied with the status quo.

    This paper, about the effect of “open-ness” on the EU, and how individual national parliaments resisted it, may be of interest.

    Click to access de%20ruiter_02D.pdf

    I really think that the bigger problem is what you pointed to in an earlier post: governments (and many of our most important social institutions, like universities) are still “industrial” cultures. Open data sharing would presume that they’re “open source” or “bug finding” or “agile” cultures. They’re not. Maybe encouraging or demanding open data sharing is the way to get them to transform culturally, but maybe it’s a futile exercise UNTIL they transform. I don’t know.

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  3. Warron

    Dave, at the UN meeting one of the things to talk about is the work of the Federal Government on BTEP and the GSRM, which ic based upon work done in the UN/CEFACT as documented in the UMM. The GSRM allows for better delivery of desired outcomes (services) to citizens.

    From the desired outcomes a government can work backward to see what the programs it need in place to manage the services. The alignment of the programs into recognized needs allows for breakdown of the work effort into 23 program fields, 12 internal facing to government and 11 outward facing program fields.

    The questions that this model drives out are:
    1. Why aren’t the worker (civil servants) aligned/tagged within the 23 fields?
    2. Why isn’t the data from the government aligned/tagged within these 23 fields?
    3. Why isn’t the political management (Ministries), just a virtual overlay on the worker that are doing the management of the service delivery to the citizens?

    Have fun at your talks!

  4. Rob Cottingham

    It’s a small thing, perhaps – but how about loosening up the vise-like grip on Hansard footage from the House of Commons? In a video age, remixing parliamentary video seems like a pretty key part of political commentary and discourse.


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