I think that states the right priorities in the right order. We also need to restore a foundation of trust, but adding that would make for a lengthy title :-) (link)


It's a good starting point. Economic reality makes us look outward, and the tragic flaw of Whithall reform papers is introspection and a lack of empathy. (link)


Sir David identifies "customer" as a subset of "citizen". Let's run with that, even if we've taken the view at Ideal Gov that they are separate not subsidiary (and that there's more to it than just these two). Varney's breakthrough is to produce government policy that stops using "citizen" and "customer" as interchangeable, which causes all sorts of problems in its e-gov intentions. See for example (link)


I thought this was a very interesting distinction to make because the term "customer focus" has become a bit of a test of loyalty for those protesting a modernising commitment! I think the re-assertion of the primacy of citizen-hood, over and above any combination of "customer-hoods" is a good one.

As a citizen, I want a series of services to be delivered to me as customer, but I also want to take an holistic view of the role of the state as the thing with which I make a contract, surrendering my freedom in return for the seurity, order etc that it offers. (link)


I think the "child of its time" point is very interesting, because intitutions are the way in which we crystallise a way of thinking that "made sense at the time" and turn it into something that has a life of its own.

In this context the issue that it prompts for me is that the last great reform of the institutions of UK government was the Haldane Report of 1919 and at various times since then, people have called for a "new Haldane" in response to environmental changes that have challenged the status quo. Haldane agonised over whether the structure of the government machine should be driven by customer need groups ( in modern terms ) as opposed to functional capability and concluded that the former was too complex as an organising principle, and that therefore the latter was the only way through.

I see the emergence of the "Councils" that are sprinkled through the report as a way of overlaying the customer group focus on top of the exisiting functional silos. I think the $64,000 question is whether this matrix arrangement will work or whether the time has come for the customer group dimension to become the prime organising principle, and this would demand a "new Haldane" (link)


Geoff, the balance implied by of one of your sentences is absolutely intriguing. you say "I also want to take an holistic view of the role of the state as the thing with which I make a contract...".

The evidence to date suggests to me that the administration's primary concern has been to arrange things so that the state has an holistic view of all its information about you (through an over-arching policy of data-sharing), but not to give you, the data subject, a similarly holistic view of your state 'digital footprint'.

The tools which could give you such a view would also, in a rational world, be the tools which allow you - as the service-consumer - to exercise consent and control over the sharing of your data between third parties for the purposes of service provision. (I add that proviso because, of course, there will be data-sharing for enforcement purposes where the user's consent may be superfluous...). (link)


I very much agree with this as a statement of reality, but it does highlight an issue for me which is: - do we want a state that gives us a menu or one which plans our meals for us?

I guess the answer depends on the level of confidence we each feel in our ability to use the menu, and of course this confidence will vary with all kinds of factors (link)


Geoff's question is key. Some need meals on wheels, some are happy to do supermarkets with loyalty cards and all, but the growth is in farmers markets where we trust the quality.

We cant answer this question with assertions along the lines "its only common sense that everyone wants personalised services". Evidence is a better way. But we suspect the best way is co-governance with iterative feeling of our way towards what works best. (link)


Yes, and it's deliberately DESIGNED by service designers, a noble profession and great British success story who have yet to be invited into most areas of public services. (link)


Suffolk CSD Liverpool Pension Service who else (there are several at least) What's up in Tameside? (link)


This is as clearly as we've ever seen the choice and the risk spelt out IMHO. (link)


I agree with William's comment! It's the "cri de coeur" from anyone who's ever tried to introduce some really radical thinking in the face of the "incrementalist tendency" coupled with the risk aversion of institutions!

It also poses the questions: What is the penalty for failure of government institutions to deliver what citizens want? Is this what John Reid is visiting on the Home Office? (link)


This is the "or else" bit! Can the existing structure be adapted throught the overlaying of customer-focused cross-cutting arrangements (the Councils) or will it prove necessary to do the more radical ( Haldane again ) thinking? (link)


We always react by changing the structure (latest iteration: let's split the Home Office). How do we change the culture? (link)


Only a government insider could explain why it is that HM Treasury doing the Cabinet Office's job is more authoritative and has to be taken more seriously than the Cabinet Office doing its own job. It may prove more effective also. (link)


Only a government insider could convey to me the sense of "but that was the Cabinet Office and they always make pronouncements of which people take little notice. We're the Treasury and we're serious." (link)


We can't change the history and the question now is how we change the culture. Recognising the scale of the problem, as Varney does, is surely the first step. (link)


Also, I'm fed up with the "drawing b numbers" rhetoric of "joining up". It was a good phrase when Perri 6 first used it in this context, not long past the stage where it's a cliche that prevents improving our understanding. It has come to mean data sharing, when what we need is empathy, sensitivity to the needs of users in differnt circumstances, and common sense. (link)


This was the key insight of the Central IT Unit in 1997 or 98 or whenever (help me people). (link)


Can't help you on the date William, but the thought this prompts for me is that this change in approach is analogous to the old marketing principle that you should sell the "benefits" not the "features".

Government should be structured around the benefits and needs addressed not the production process - or perhaps this is saying that the state business needs a unified marketing/communication department ( not propaganda but dedicated to gathering and using what Varney calls "insight") as well as an efficient factory. (link)


Hurrah! And this was the key insight for which I give credit to Matthew Horne and the Design Council's RED team work in 2004 or so. They called it c-creation. Cisco in its Connected Republic work and elsewhere called it co-production. The rapporteurs of Tampere built it up to be co-governance. See the thread at (link)


I don't think that the term "productivity" appears in the document despite some quite detailed comparisons of such things as absence rates etc. I think a key issue on performance management has to be a "time and motion" approach to productivity management in the public sector, but of course the recent furore in HMRC shows how difficult this can be. (link)


I think this should be independent of government. (link)


Ah yes. The active banana.

I far prefer the "customer-focussed" aproach of Ed Mayo and the NCC. Build organisations that serve the customer and do nothing else.

That's far more efficient and radical than time & motion studies of often pointless activity. And more respctful of public servants... (link)


We agree with words like "improvement" and "better". In an ideal world we'll also agree what IS better and what constitutes an improvement. Hint: it may not necessarily be compulsory, involve biometrics, registration and fines, storage on a single central database, or annoying bits of plastic. (link)


Response to hint!: Without biometrics, identity management, which Varney rightly puts centre-stage, can only be a matter of corroborating the provenance and authenticity of bits of paper and electronic records. Storage on a single database isn't actually the way that IPS is now moving, as I understand it. Bits of plastic are not essential to biometrically secured electronic identity.

The card is not logically essential to the ID scheme, but, in my opinion,most people would find it convenient and re-assuring.

Compulsion, registration and fines are what already apply to registering births, infectious diseases, owning a car, a gun, a dog, etc etc. Can't see the problem! (link)


We're wholly forgiving of the fact change of address was promised for 2005, never appeared and no-one batted an eyelid. There was more to it than met the eye. We still need it (subject to the "foundation of trust" protections) and 2010 seems as good a new target as any. (What's that Who song going round in my head...There's nothing in the street Looks any different to me And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye And the parting on the left Is now the parting on the right ......Meet the new boss Same as the old boss) (link)


We're wholly forgiving of the fact change of address was promised for 2005, never appeared and no-one batted an eyelid. There was more to it than met the eye. We still need it (subject to the "foundation of trust" protections) and 2010 seems as good a new target as any. (What's that Who song going round in my head...There's nothing in the street Looks any different to me And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye And the parting on the left Is now the parting on the right ......Meet the new boss Same as the old boss) (link)


This I dont get. Why we dont just let Directgov wither and give Sam Smith and Chris Lightfoot medals and civil service pensions and let everyone use DirectionlessGov (bunging a bob or too Google's way as we go)? If nobody can tell me what's wrong with that I'll just have to look into it for myself. In an ideal world the government would engage me professionally to find out the answer to this burning question so perhaps I'll just hold my breath until that happens (or I burst). (link)


Further thought. It's fine for us to "improve Direct Gov so much that everyone wants to use it and everything else withers away". But to make everyone use DirectGov by closing everything else makes as much sense to me as forcing everyone to the New Orleans Superdome by closing the bridges with armed guards after Katrina. To date DirectGov has been expensive and a bit annoying: is it about to become the one biggest problem in online government? (link)


Hmmmmmmmm. Why not just give this job to the "gold-standard" IPS which has such a fabulous customer satisfaction rating and is spending £5.8bn (according to confused and ill-informed Home Office ministers) or anything up to £19bn (according to the curiously prescient intellectual pygmies of the LSE) to do this already? We can think of a few good reasons, but it would be heartening to see HM Treausry spell them out as well. (link)


Recommending a cross-government identity management system is easy. All you need do is look at page 8 of the IPS Strategic Action Plan for the National Identity Scheme. It is a single horizontal double headed arrow, without giving a clue of the implementation strategy. The odds are against HMRC, DWP and 12LAs coming up with a truly cross-government strategy that is acceptable to all (including the treasury and cabinet office). (link)


As I understand it James Hall's job title actually includes responsibility for Identity Management across Govt, so the brief does rest with IPS.

On the issue of principle, how can one object to the idea that state institutions all work off a common identification of the human beings that are on its territory? You can call yourself whatever you want in your multiple communities, but surely where taxpayers' money is being used to do things that you cannot do yourself or where your action can prejudice other people's interests, it's entirely right that a citizen has a stable, attested identity which the state can use to hold him to account as a citizen. I think this tunes in with the "rights and responsibilities" discourse and the alternative is childish in several senses.

On the issue of practicality, and "acceptability to all", of course there are huge challenges, perhaps the most significant of which is the "goal displacement" that prevents Departments from cooperating fully in the public interest where that challenges their empires.

There are a couple of places in this document where that issue is at least obliquely recognised and, in my view, it's the key leadership challenge for the next PM! (link)


I'm a bit concerned about what "personalisation" means until we define it better.

At one extreme it sounds like mechannical targetting and brings to mind YouTube videos of pilots using laserguided weapons precisely to target and kill people about whom they know...well...precisely nothing. Or rather with whom they feel precisely zero empathy.

Personalisation is something I've always done myself, like decorating one's own room.

Personalised Google homepage feels rather different from a future personalised pizza delivery service as described by ACLU which knows everything about you and lectures you because youre too fat. I dont welcome intrusive persoalised financial service promotion based on credit rating data. Personalisation is clearly not always a Good Thing, so it's awkward to have it as a policy cliche we never question.

So the question of intention looms large. (link)


Hurrah. Yes. If you majke a rule that these people must have direct customer experience (being one, or dealing with them) you'll find the skills come from the front line in DWP or from NGOs and local government rather than traditional Whitehall. (link)


As I see it, and applaud it, this is the call to action for the Brown regime! It links the efficency AND the effectiveness agendas as they should be! (link)


That's a fair cop Sam. It's your weekend, after all. But there's a lot of good stuff in the main report, esp more detailed stuff on savings, culture, incentives, ID management, governance. The intro etc is fine for day trippers, but I'm afraid the true ethnographer of bureaucracy will have to go for the the five course meal. It's more digestible than some others we've waded through. (link)


OK, so DV says change needs - a framework (what does that comprise) and - some innovative services to act as stimulus (ie the change of circs) - detailed planning (link)


How this is done is key to the foundation of trust in e-government. This clear statement envisages a separate path from the Home Office IPS route. That's a good start. I think (fingers crossed) that David Varney is in favour of something which appeals to customers. Selling mobile phones (as he did at O2) is different from bunging people in jail and other stuff they do at the Home Office: to succeed at the former you have to work hard to keep your customers happy. (link)


The use of the past tense is curious. I thought this was all work in progress. IPS have produced the “Strategic Action Plan for the National Identity Scheme”. The CTO has produced the first release of “The cross-Government Enterprise Architecture (xGEA)”. Where is the IDM strategy paper – perhaps I just haven’t found it yet?

Where are the lessons from the HMRC, DWP et al pilot published? In my days the pilot followed the proof of concept – which isn’t due until March 2007. Perhaps Varney lives in a useful time warp that was created in the last episode of “Dr Who”. (link)


I agree - past tense is odd. I thought the pilot was proposed here. (link)


And it needs to be a lot better than the MoD performance on shoddy housing for squaddies' families and five-star refurbishment of their listed headquarters building. That feels a bit Enron. (link)


This will require some culturally challenging reaching out to intermediaries who have not always been well treated in the past. (link)


...if it must. Must it? Do they have to be compulsory? Don't tell Joanna Lumley. (link)


it says "supports the use of identity cards". Is this in the same way that London Transport must support Oyster; but that doesn't mean that everyone must use Oyster.. (link)


Is anyone aware of the outputs of this Forum? What are its Insights? (link)


Hmmmm. Do "impediments" include the risk of loss of trust? Shouldnt we rather insist that data sharing does not proceed unless it's based on a foundation of trust, ie maximal anonymity at all times, privacy-enhancing techs, informed consent etc. We still need to chakllenge the notion that data sharing is per se a benefit (link)


Without accurate identity management, which must include citizen consent, data sharing will not be efficient and could add an administrative burden that outweighs any benefits. (link)


It would be interesting to know what the expectations are from the "proof of concept". In three months, will it to be a collection of opinions or some software that demonstrates the ease information sharing between central and local government? I'd guess the former - and unlikely to take other parts of the public sector much further forward. (link)


No harm in doing that. The question is what is the overlying framework in which these components fit. There seems to be duplication of function. Just because a lot of money has been spent, it is not a good reason for continuing to support them all. Every big ministry seems to be intent on protecting their own "strategic" systems. That's fine if you can afford it. If you want to join them up you need standards - and the starting point is ISO 18876. Has it been evaluated in this context? (link)


How much wisdom is there in putting a single department in charge of a site which is designed to cover many departments. The inherent bias that comes from being in a single department with a specific centre of gravity means that it will, inherently, slowly spin towards that. And the risk that the greater whole is damaged to increase the benefit to the department which it resides in. If you're going to be putting all your eggs in one basket, it needs to be held by someone who isn't interested in scrambling for political purposes. To be credible, they need to be both fiercely independent, and be seen to be fiercely independent. (link)


What is this? (link) (link)


We keep saying this (it has been a good decade now). But government isn't serious about it, and there;s the risk that if it got serious about it it would undermione the independence and motivation of the NGOs which only exist because of concern about the things government isnt able to do in the first place. (link)


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