Wednesday, 19 February 2014

The science of political strategy



Public service reform: credible treatment requires bold diagnosis:
... imagine a centre which saw its role as based not on power, control of money and regulation but influence, expertise and networks. What a happier, more attractive, more open and mroe effective place Whitehall would be.
Digital Efficiency Report
Cabinet Office
November 2012 (p.19):
If the proportion of savings estimated to relate to staff costs (from Fig. 6) is applied to the total estimated annual savings and then divided by an average cost per FTE [full-time equivalent, what we used to call a "person"], this amounts to a total FTE savings estimate of at least 40,000.
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 Public service reform: credible treatment requires bold diagnosis:
David Moss on Your comment is awaiting moderation. Tue, 18th Feb 2014 2:08 pm

… from a passing reference he makes to expanding the work of the Government Digital Service, it seems Cruddas knows an incoming Labour Government should try to preserve the best of what is going on in the Cabinet Office …

The Government Digital Service (GDS) have created GOV.UK which replaces the previous central government departmental websites. GOV.UK supports Whitehall’s publishing requirements, just as the previous websites did. Net progress – nil.

The progress GDS is aiming at is to make public services digital by default, as called for by Martha-now-Lady Lane Fox in her revolution not evolution paper. The revolution involves centralising policy-making and budget control and news dissemination in GDS. Centralisation on steroids.

For digital by default to work citizens have to be able to transact with government on-line. Two problems.

Firstly, something like 16 million people in the UK can’t or won’t transact on-line.

Second, for those of us who can and will, we all need to be identifiable on-line. We need the on-line, dematerialised, digital equivalent of an ID card.

For that, GDS have the Identity Assurance Programme,IDA. IDA is already late. It creates a new institution in the unwritten British Constitution – the “identity provider” (IDP). GDS have five IDPs.

Will the British public trust these IDPs with all their personal data? Will companies trust them? It’s unlikely. The media are full of stories all day every day about breaches of security on the web. If even US military contractors can’t protect themselves – and they can’t – why should the IDPs be able to? No reason.

Without IDA, it is impossible for GDS to move on from publishing to transacting. Which is why the dial on their “transformation dashboard” is stuck stubbornly at 1 – of 25 transformation projects on the table, only 1 has gone live.

GDS show no sign of being able to get IDA off the ground. They also seem to have a blind spot about security. They just can’t take it seriously.

If Mr Cruddas is relying on GDS for transformation, he may like to consider the points above.

He may also care to consider GDS’s promise, if digital-by-default ever does take off, to make 40,000+ public servants redundant, replaced by intelligent software agents and applications program interfaces. That would be the effect of the Lane Fox prerogative – massive centralisation and standardisation. Let us hope that IDA remains late for a long time to come.

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