Monday, July 07, 2008

UK eGovernment Task Force Using a Blog

The UK Government has established the "Power of Information TaskForce" to come up with innovative ways to make government information more accessible. To demonstrate they are in earnest, they are using a blog to communicate and the competition with £20,000 in prizes.

While an admirable effort, I found the exercise a bit chaotic and lacking in focus. Also it may be hard for many to believe this is an officially endorsed UK Government activity. Research on emergency web sites has shown that official sites need to look credible by having a government logo and the traditional government (dull) format. The taskforce may have tried to be a little too trendy for their won good.

Ed and Tom’s report set out the social and economic gains that be achieved from better use of the data that government holds, as well as setting out how much further the government has to go to capitalise on these.

The Power of Information Task Force was established by Cabinet Office Minister Tom Watson MP in March 2008. We will be rising to this challenge over the coming months. We have broken the work down into two strands:

  • Exemplars; and
  • Enablers.

The exemplars will be small projects demonstrating the Power of Information principles in action broadly in the fields of:

  • Criminal Justice;
  • Health; and
  • Education.

We shall stray out side these areas when interesting opportunities arise.

As these exemplars develop progress will be discussed on the blog. We are aware that we won’t have a monopoly on good ideas, so please come and share your thoughts and ideas in the comments. If you’re shy please email us at

We see the enablers as being the structural barriers to innovation that exist at the moment. A good example would be the guidance to civil servants on use of social media. Before this was published on 18th June, then civil servants didn’t have a clear interpretation of the civil service code for finding a voice online - so.were impeded from blogging or participating on forums in a professional capacity.

We shall be discussing progress as we make it and sharing our emerging thinking. We are looking for a lively discussion in the comments so please share your thoughts.

Our Terms of Reference are:

To advise and assist the government on delivering benefit to the public from new developments in digital media and the use of citizen- and state-generated information in the UK, including those identified in the Power of Information Review.

The Taskforce will report to the Minister for Transformational Government at the Cabinet Office but work with public sector bodies where it sees benefit to the citizen or workforce. The Taskforce will operate in an open and transparent manner using modern media.

In the light of early progress since the Government responded to the Power of Information Review (Cm 7157 and the Interim Report) the Taskforce will consider the following sub questions:

  • How can government further catalyse more beneficial creation and sharing of knowledge, and mutual support, between citizens?
  • What more can and should be done to improve the way government and its agencies publish and share non personal information?
  • Are there any further notable information opportunities or shortfalls in sectors outside government that those sectors could work to rectify?

The Taskforce will examine information created both by citizens and government and, like the Power of Information Review, is not about individuals’ private information, such as medical or credit records.

For further information, please contact the Task Force secretariat by email ...

For press enquiries please contact Alex Marklew on 020 7276 0436.

From: About the Task Force, Power of Information Task Force, 2008

1 comment:

test said...

200 entries - many excellent - in little under a week says your 'dull is better' hypothesis is unsupported by evidence in this case.