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Digital Britain Report:

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He’s here to talk about the Digital Britain report.  You can submit questions for some key figures in Birmingham at www.yoosk.com/digitalbirmingham/

or follow bits of the day through the unconference website and on Rhubarb radio.

What about Digital Britain the report?

“Government of the web, not just on the web” is a critical sentence in the Digital Britain report.  Digital Britain is undoubtedly wide ranging, but if you’re interested in how the internet affects how we gover ourselves then you’ll want to skim through the Executive Summary (pdf -why?) until you hit point 74 and then spend some time reading Chapter 8: The Journey to Digital Government (also pdf).

So what does “Government of the web” mean?

1 Transactions: first it’s how we use the internet to do business with government (CH 8 point 16):

We propose starting a Digital Switchover of Public Services Programme in 2012. We will need to consider in more detail the ramifications of switching each service to digital but an initial list might include:

  • Student loans
  • Companies House registration
  • Personal tax returns for higher rate taxpayers
  • Electoral roll registration
  • School registration
  • Redundancy advice processing
  • Debt advice

It’s not a list that leaves my heart  a flutter.  Many digitally literate folk will already do some of these (which suggests, as ever, literacy is core).  However to force people to do some things that are core to many lives, such as school registration, only online will also encourage digital literacy.  Such ambitions are  only possible because of the policy to ensure everyone has access to broadband by the same time (even though it’s a very modest 2Mbs speed).

2 Procurement:  sounds dead yawnsome, but the paragragh 26 (CH 8) of the report wants to make it easier for smaller more innovative businesses to win government IT contracts. If that works it may accelerate the use of open source software and faster development and encourage the growth of some fine small businesses.  The simplest example of this is the 10 Downing Street website, built on wordpress at far lower than expected cost.

3 Data: Let me just quote the report.

Government has accepted the vision of the POI report, and set out in its paper of 13th May 2009 a series of initiatives aimed at achieving the principles of Open Information, Open Innovation, Open Discussion and Open Feedback as outlined below. Government is still working on some of these recommendations and an update on progress is planned for the Summer.  The Cabinet Office will take a leadership role in catalysing this change.

That’s progress, the interim report didn’t even mention the Power of Information Task Force.

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