I woke up at 03.18 with my head buzzing with so much exciting stuff. I had just spent 2 hours at the Computer Weekly 500 club talking to an excellent, vibrant group about our G-Cloud strategy. We probably could have gone on for days...thanks Bryan. This event was clearly built on the publication of our Government ICT Strategy and enabled us to talk about the opportunities and threats. My summary of the event would be that the strategy is good, we recognise the criticality of the culture change that will be required, getting SME's into the app store will be vital and that the EU procurement process, for SME's, has unintended consequences of being anti innovative and anti competitive because of the cost and time of bidding. We also discussed that the cloud provides the fundamental underpinning of other strategies such as Martha's work as without it, we will just not have the money to do everything.
The second thing buzzing around my head was how the hell did we manage to get the PM to talk about the semantic web? The hero who will have managed this (not me I might add) will have had to work across many departments and stakeholders to develop the evidence and buy-in to the suggested policy to ensure what we suggest we should do, can actually be done.
Three years ago my objective was to deliver the Transformational Government Strategy, Develop the ICT Community as Head of Profession and extend our strategies into Green ICT Strategy, Open Source Open Standards reuse, Power of Information etc etc. etc. We have strategies in the pipeline on offshoring and our standards catalogue and we will publish those as soon as they have been completed, reviewed and signed off.
Many of you might recall that the first strand of Transformational Government was "Citizen Centred Services" and this was all about putting the Citizen at the heart of what we do and deliver services on their terms, not ours.
So to see that Martha lane-Fox will become the UK's Digital Champion is a culmination of years of hard work by many people. At last the use of ICT is becoming centre stage of Government strategy with its rightful place to serve citizens (or people who serve citizens) on their terms at a price we can afford.
But tweaking the tail of the Tiger, and one of the Tiger's chums can be a dangerous thing to do. As the saying goes, "beware of what you ask for". The note from Gus to Martha makes clear the first activity is to focus on developing a digital public services strategy. In the PM's speech on Monday, the PM details what he expects to see: the creation of Mygov, which will "integrate" many backend systems such as pensions, tax credits or child benefits, and a simple approach to citizens identifying themselves to Government. This is no small feat. Neither the PM, nor Martha will take too kindly to people dragging their feet and spending their time in endless meetings talking about theory and governance, who does what, building big teams, lots of reporting, posturing and and and. We have raised the expectation and now we need to deliver, and deliver in an environment where as the Chancellor said yesterday "it will be very very tough on spending settlements" for the public sector. This almost certainly will entail diverting money from existing projects, websites, and indeed scrapping activity that does not conform to whatever strategy Martha agrees with the PM and Ministers. Many people talk about cross cutting delivery but few have done it –it's really tough - I carry 6 years worth of scars from doing this in Government.
This is a culmination of three years activity for me, and it is interesting to note that all the things we created over the last three years and spun off are now all being grouped back together again! What goes around comes around. So I look forward to continuing to work with Martha developing the strategy, and critically implementing it... I'll send one of my Tigers to all of the meetings...