Sunday, 20 January 2013

#3 of many lessons about GDS and the external digital thought leaders

Each week, ex-Guardian man Mike Bracken, executive director of the Government Digital Service (GDS) and senior responsible officer owner for the government-wide Identity Assurance Programme (IDAP), writes up his diary for the previous seven days and publishes it. And on 11 January 2013, it was published in the form of a video. Tune in and learn, as he explains that:
Martha gave us our publishing mandate. And we've now got our transaction mandate [now that there are digital strategies for each government department].
"Martha", of course, is Martha Lane Fox DBE, the UK Machiavelli de nos jours, the Prime Minister's digital champion and chairman of the GDS advisory board (and now also a member of Richard Branson's/Virgin Media's 'Our Digital Future' campaign). It is thanks to her 14 October 2010 letter to Francis Maude – Directgov 2010 and beyond: revolution not evolution – that GDS exists.

Actually, that's not true.

None of it.

Ms Lane Fox's letter asserted that GDS should be responsible for publishing all central government information. It also asserted that GDS should be in charge of all on-line transactions between government and the public. You can hardly miss it. That was recommendation #1 in her letter:
Recommendation 1

Make Directgov [= GOV.UK] the government front end for all departments' transactional online services to citizens and businesses, with the teeth to mandate cross Government solutions, set standards and force departments to improve citizens' experience of key transactions.
Ex-Guardian man Mike Bracken's neat little distinction between his publishing mandate and his transaction mandate is false.

Doubly so. Because the mandate doesn't come from Ms Lane Fox. How could it? She's in no position to tell Whitehall how to organise itself. The mandate can only have come from very senior civil servants and from politicians. It's thanks to them that GDS exists, not Ms Lane Fox.

Ms Lane Fox is a salesman. An exceptionally good one but nevertheless that's all. A salesman. She has no experience of running an enormous organisation like DWP, for example, and no experience of supplying life-supporting services to millions of members of the public.

You may disagree.

Who's right? DMossEsq or you? How can we tell?

You can settle the matter easily thanks to ex-Guardian man Mike Bracken's having organised Sprint 13, the must-be-there party at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre tomorrow Monday 21 January 2013 from 08:45 to 13:00 (GMT).

300 of Whitehall's best + "Government and Agency Board Members, Officials, Policy Makers, Ministers, Press and External Digital Thought-Leaders", all assembled in one place and Martha Lane Fox is due to make a speech. DMossEsq won't be there. But you will. You can just ask her.

Remember, according to Ms Lane Fox you don't have a strong grasp of government policy. And your woodentopped insistence on obeying the law is merely obstructive:
It seems to me that the time is now to use the Internet to shift the lead in the design of services from the policy and legal teams to the end users ...

Directgov [=GDS] SWAT teams ... should be given a remit to support and challenge departments and agencies ... We must give these SWAT teams the necessary support to challenge any policy and legal barriers which stop services being designed around user needs ...

This person [in the event, ex-Guardian man Mike Bracken] should have the controls and powers to gain absolute authority over the user experience across all government online services ... and the power to direct all government online spend.

The CEO for Digital should also have the controls and powers to direct set and enforce standards across government departments ...
While you're at it, you may as well take advantage of his presence to ask ex-Guardian man Mike Bracken a few questions, too.

Sprint 13, after all, is the event at which he explains that those 300 of Whitehall's best have been doing their job wrong for the past several decades and insists that they now do it his way. The Estonian way.

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