Feeds

New(ish) Labour plans Whitehall 2.0

Replacing social policy with social networking

Mobile application security vulnerability report

The UK government has dulled the glamorous sheen of Web 2.0 by pledging guidelines on how civil servants should exploit use social media for developing policies and getting their messages out to the public.

The Cabinet Office has published an Interim Progress Report on its information strategy, carried out by Tom Steinberg and Ed Mayo, which details Whitehall’s efforts to “get” social media in its efforts to communicate with we the people.

The interim report’s appearance coincided with the setting up of a Power of Information Taskforce – which will include Steinberg – to flesh out the strategy and which was revealed in a speech by Tom Watson, MP, Labour’s minister for transformational government.

In his speech, Watson argued that freeing up data “will allow us to unlock the talent of British entrepreneurs” while “engaging people – using the simple tools that bring them together – will allow the talents of all our people to be applied to the provision of public services”.

Watson promised the COI and the Cabinet Office would “produce a set of guidelines that adheres to the letter of the law when it comes to the civil service code but lives within the spirit of the age”.

We think this means Civil Servants need an approved way to dip into sites like mumsnet to share their wisdom on, for example, how to claim maternity benefits. We presume it doesn’t mean putting in place a bureaucratic procedure to ensure that all civil servants Wikipedia edits on Avril Lavigne have been signed off by the Cabinet Office and Number 10.

Watson said draft proposals would be ready for the taskforce by the end of this week.

Government also needed to adopt social media, Watson argued. “Whitehall is arguably Britain’s most important knowledge factory,” he said, “but we’re using out of date tools.” So, it would appear Sir Humphrey and pals will be forced to thrash out policy and career paths over blogs, wikis, forums and shared workspaces instead of over the port and cheese board.

Watson also pledged to overhaul the way information produced by government bodies, for example regulatory information or Ordnance Survey mapping data, is disseminated and charged for. “There has been a lively debate about whether the overall benefits to the economy and society are better served by giving the data away at marginal cost.” He said he had asked the Treasury and BERR to help build arguments in this area.

More disturbingly, perhaps, Watson reminisced about how hard it used to be for “any community organiser or activist to “get people together to do something”. He recalled how he spent his formative years in “endless hours of turning the handle of a manual duplicating machine whilst my dad fermented [sic] revolution in the pub.”

He went on to claim that “social media has removed the requirement for my son to turn the handle for his dad. It allows people to organise a demonstration or a lobby at a single click, with global effect.”

Which is funny, as we’d never thought organising spontaneous demonstrations was part of the government’s remit. ®

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart
Mega-costly gas 'n' 'leccy totting-up tech not worth it - Tory MP
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.