Yesterday saw the launch of Martha Lane Fox‘s report into the future of Directgov, Revolution Not Evolution, though as she admits in introducing the report it took a far wider remit than that. In fact it offers a vision for a radically changed digital landscape for the public sector – something that is considerably more ambitious than was attempted by our previous Government.
The report was pretty slim which was appreciated but the use of a scan of a hard copy that was turned into a PDF was pretty hilarious for a paper about the future of digital delivery. Also the use of language throughout the report was at times vague and confusing. Given the fact that it took a comment from Tom Loosemore on Steph Grays blogpost to radically change most peoples reading of a pretty important section of the report it was a bit misleading as well.
That comment from Tom did go a long way to answering my concerns about the report. Martha Lane Fox expressed surprise that alot of the feedback focused on the issues around content publishing rather than the proposed improvements to the transactional side of government service delivery online;
thx for feedback on review – interesting that u focus much more on govt publishing yet i think big gains r in transaction simplification—
martha lane fox (@Marthalanefox) November 24, 2010
I think Mr O’Steens response to Marthas tweet sums up my feeling pretty well;
I think everyone can see that there are major gains to be made with improving the functional applications where government interacts directly with the public (though the idea that everything should move online is another argument!) but the benefits of central editorial controls and an uber domain for all government is less clear and wasn’t expressed well in the document (thus the digital sigh of relief all over Twitter after Toms comment!).
Not for the first time though I was left wondering how this was likely to effect me and the website(s) I’m responsible for. I’ve pretty much made a career of working in this space that isn’t quite higher education, government, charity or quango – though it has ties and shares characteristics with all of them.
A renewed push towards convergence on the scale suggested is bound to have fall out at this level but it is unclear what that will be and what we will need to do fall into line. There is always a strong push to demonstrate an independence to influence from the Government of the day within the Research Councils (and science/academia in general) and it will be interesting and challenging to see how that fits in with these ideas.
Anyway while it is becoming a bit of a cliche that (maybe) Chinese curse/proverb springs to mind again;
May you live in interesting times.
Looks like we are. Good luck all!