Government needs an overhaul to fit the internet age, says report

The report published today by the Centre for Technology Policy Research says that access to social media must be opened up, civil servants must be given crash courses in information management and senior staff must be given compulsory technology training to help achieve this, it said.

A report published today by the Centre for Technology Policy Research says that access to social media must be opened up, civil servants must be given crash-courses in information management, and senior staff must be given compulsory technology training to help achieve this.

The internet makes a new model of government possible, the centre says, and the new administration needs to put new principles and frameworks in place to enable it to "think and act in the 21st century."

The centre says a new mindset is needed which is "open by default" and acknowledges the cultural change of direction that new technology has prompted. It makes a list of recommendations for how the government could achieve this mindset, saying the way it approaches technology at the moment is failing to achieve anything.

The report's recommendations include:

  • Impose the same governance regime on Whitehall as exists for private companies.
  • Focus audits on whether the intended policy outcomes for public services are being achieved, not whether arbitrary processes are being followed.
  • Open up access to social media and networking tools for civil servants. The report says, "Without access to these important new tools, central government is running blind from those it is there to serve."
  • Employ real-time communications for online government services, such as a "live chat" facility for online users.
  • Switch expenditure from marketing and PR to openness. "Consider redirecting those public funds currently spent on marketing and PR into the provisioning of data and the tools to analyse them."
  • Create a new departmental board-level, business-led CIO function able to advise on technology's role in the re-design of the UK's public services.
  • Introduce compulsory training in technology policy and technology for all senior civil servants.
  • Introduce open data and information management crash-courses for civil servants of all levels.
  • Integrate technology in public sector planning documents instead of publishing separate, isolated documents that talk about IT as if it is justified in its own right.

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