.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

An agenda for engagement

An article in the Civil Service World newspaper from 27 January is drawn to my attention in which the Work and Pensions Minister, Jim Knight, who has recently been appointed as the government's lead on moving public services on-line, confesses to having a 'ongoing struggle' with officials about web access.

During a question and answer session at the Dotgov Live Conference last week the Minister was asked how civil servants could be expected to engage with the public when they are banned from using many of the social media sites such as Youtube or Facebook, where members of the public voice opinions.

In reply he admitted that it is "a frustration to me that so much is locked out because of our very low appetite for risk in this area." He explained that the fear is that civil servants accessing such sites from government computers would put the entire system at risk from hacking. While that is understandable he said, it is "an ongoing struggle that I have with government IT, because there are times that I want to use government IT and not just my IPhone."

"I can't catch up with what was on the Today programme that morning or go on Youtube using government IT. There is so much I can't do."

This is not a frustration felt by Assembly Members who have a far more liberal IT system though government civil servants and Assembly Commission staff are subject to the same restrictions as Mr. Knight.

The Minister told the Conference that many public services will only be accessible online in the future, but he warned that this will require an acceleration of the digital inclusion programme so that some groups are not to be disadvantaged.

About a third of UK households still do not have access to the internet and that needs to be addressed, especially in Wales where access issues can be quite severe for a number of reasons. Either way, if services are to be extended online then all governments will need to look at their policies in relation to their own civil servants accessing the web and even their Ministers.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?