IT advice from across the pond


Barack Obama is expected to name the person he wants as his chief technology officer pretty soon. Obama has said the CTO is supposed to ensure agencies have the right infrastructure, policies and services for the 21st century.

Coincidentally, mySociety, a British non-profit group that advocates for and facilitates open, electronic government, has posted a blog this week about how the government of “any reasonably developed country” should use the Internet.

Here is what mySociety has to say:

The most scary thing about the Internet for your government is not pedophiles, terrorists or viruses, whatever you may have read in the papers. It is the danger of your administration being silently obsoleted by the lightening pace at which the Internet changes expectations.

Here, in part, is what it suggests government does:

Hire yourself some staff who know what the Internet really means for government, and fund a university to start training more who really understand both worlds… There just aren’t enough employed in any government anywhere yet to save you from being hopelessly outstripped by external progress. The citizen discontent resulting from massive shifts in expectation could wash your entire government away without you ever having anyone skilled enough to tell you why everyone was so pissed off. Your chances of truly reinventing what your government is are basically zero without such staff.

Commission the world’s first system capable of large scale deliberation, and hold a couple of nation wide sessions on policy areas that you genuinely haven’t made your minds up on yet.

When people use your electronic systems to do anything, renew a fishing license, register a pregnancy, apply for planning permission, given them the option to collaborate with other people going through or affected by the same process. They will feel less alone, and will help your services to reform from the bottom up.

Seems that Obama has thought of a couple of these things already. His campaign literature talks about opening up government regulation to more citizen collaboration and opening up legislation to public comment. I haven’t seen much discussion about staffing the government yet.

What do you think? How should your agency use the Internet? What skills does your agency need to make e-government work better for citizens?

Hat Tip: Kathryn Corrick


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  1. Pingback: Fedline » IT advice from the CIO Council

  2. The CTO will be charged with ensuring that agencies “have the right infrastructure, policies and services for the 21st century” and will lead an interagency effort to “ensure that they use best-in-class technologies.”

    Microsoft would like to know…Who you think Obama will appoint?…What do you think are the top priorities for our nation’s first CTO?

    Give us your opinion by adding comments to Microsoft’s FutureFed blog ( ).

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