Catching up

After more than a few weeks of very long days and weekends that passed in a flash, I got to spend today at Goodwood. I’m not sure if that is the “Glorious Goodwood” of old, but today, with the sun beating down it certainly fit that description. I know next to nothing about cars, but I know expensive ones when I see them. Those, the Tornado doing stunts, the 747 flyby and the obligatory ride in a helicopter, made for a wonderful day. And bumping into Jeremy Clarkson was interesting too. He’s very tall.

My friend John Caswell, who is one of the founders of Group Partners, has just started a blog. He claims that there are others who are going to contribute, but so far it’s all him. If you don’t know who or what Group Partners is, check out the easy definition. I love what John and his team do. I like that he talks about his work as “interventions” rather than projects, programmes or engagements. I like that the tag he’s used since day one is about helping people avoid solving the wrong problem really well, viz

Quick, there’s a problem, let’s go solve it.

Because we can, and maybe we are an ‘expert’, we will. Oh great now we have another problem over here.”

After a while I realised that I was being somewhat fraudulent, especially when I could see that the effect of my work was marginalised by the inability of the enterprise to absorb or leverage properly what we had done over here.

There’s not been much time to write here in the last few weeks. I’m guilty of working in a place where there’s no Internet after hours (yes, such places still exist), where the hotel knows as much about the ‘net as they know about upmarket French cuisine – the inhouse restaurant insists that it does but, really, it should stick to the basics: spaghetti, toasted sandwiches and the like.

I’m still tracking e-government. I spent some time on the ‘phone this week with some folks in the Canadian government who are upgrading their “secure channel” programme, a wonderful bit of work that has been proceeding alongside the UK’s government gateway, with similar aims but a different way of realising them. They’ve issued over 800,000 digital certificates (about 790,000 more than we managed in the UK, although there the government issues them directly) and have beaten down all of the problems that we saw – not without pain, not without blood, but they had the might of the government behind them.

I also took a look at the UK’s Better Regulation Task Force programme and gave them some thoughts that I hope will help direct their work. They have the unenviable task of figuring out how to reduce form-filling for businesses by at least 25% in the first instance. I’m all for that. There is a pile of work to do.

I also checked out the latest monthly report from the e-Delivery folks, my old team back in government. This month’s report looks great. Last time I posted about this, I think I lost the link, so I’ve made sure to include it this time so you don’t have to hunt through the Cabinet Office website to find it. The highlights are:

Highest ever monthly volumes for submissions (over 860,000)
Higest ever monthly volumes for active enrolments (over 761,000)
Highest ever monthly volumes for authentications (over 1,900,000 for GUI & SOAP)
Second highest month for Directgov and Healthcare Commission usage (1,090,264 and 79,583 unique users repectively)
That’s a lot of traffic. You’ll see in the slides the year on year comparisons going all the way back to 2001. This year just looks stunning – PAYE online has finally taken off and there’s a ton of traffic coming through last month and this month.

There’s a lot of other things going on, and all are on my mind. ID cards (can’t wait for the latest LSE report out this week – £200 for an ID card? Or was it £300? Funded by selling the data to 3rd parties? I doubt it – government will be better off buying the data from them in the first place given that, say, Experian or Equifax, have already had to join it all up to do proper credit profiles!).

Then there’s this gem

“Interoperability is currently the hot topic in e-government,” notes Themis Tambouris, the project manager of the IST programme-funded project “With our system a public administration would be able to integrate its services with those of other providers operating in other fields and in other countries securely over the Internet.”

A “Unitary European Network (UEN) bringing together the distributed and autonomous systems of different administrations into a common cooperative framework” – who needs a constitution when we can link it all electronically anyway. That’s bound to work.

And then there’s this

The Government is likely to be asked to fund a large-scale marketing campaign to promote online public services, eGov monitor has learned.Apparently “46 per cent of adults in England are willing to use online public services” – wow! Who’d have thought. Would that, by any chance, be the same %age that bank online, buy stocks online or buy books online?

Still, I’m the last person to argue about take-up drives. But I’m not sure a widespread marketing campaign will do it … unless there’s a single URL promoted with sub-campaigns hanging off it. anyone?

2 thoughts on “Catching up

  1. What the Gateway report doesn\’t say is that it\’s creaking as a result of the traffic volumes. But then we never could get any capacity planning data out of Microsoft.

  2. Sad, cheap shot. My guess is that you \”Aspire\” to be a better person but are struggling to PAYE your way in life.I have it from an authoritative source, close to the Gateway team, that, far from struggling, the Gateway is handling volumes just fine. Are you sure everything is fine close to home for you?

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