Quarkside

31/05/2012

Open Source: Start looking

Filed under: Standards — lenand @ 12:20 pm
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Decades after successful use of open source by industry giants such as Google, Facebook and Apple, surely it is sufficient evidence to convince ICT managers that it should always be assessed.  Even the most conservative Home Office is claiming benefits in £millions.

Cash strapped local government and voluntary sector agencies must start looking for savings by retiring legacy proprietary systems and moving to open source and open standards.  Open Source and Open Standards are not the same thing, but they are often conflated – and sometimes with Open Data.  The key things to remember are:

  • Open Source is free computer source code that is reusable and improvable.  Most users do not change the source code.
  • Open Standards are the result of agreements of interested parties and encourage interoperability between systems.  Businesses should specify open standards in procurements, even for proprietary software.
  • Open data is free to use, and should be defined as complying to an Open Standard.  It can be processed by Open Source or proprietary software.

Prepare for the evolution.  Read all about the Open Source Summit on May 30th 2012.

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18/04/2011

Pan Government Arrogance

Filed under: Governance,Policy,Politics — lenand @ 7:42 am
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The Local Government Delivery Council (LGDC) was established in 2007 to support the Chair, in the role as one of two local government representatives on the Cabinet Office Delivery Council. The Delivery Council was the pan government body chaired by Sir David Varney, to drive the transformation of public services so these became, ‘better for the citizen, better for staff and cheaper for the tax payer’.

We now learn that the Cabinet Office’s Delivery Council has ceased and there is no longer a pan government body which includes local government representation. Fortunately, an independent LGDC has become the recognised and established body for central government agencies to engage with when they are working with or plan to work with councils to redesign services. They provide one of the few (perhaps the only?) forum where central government departments get to see what other government departments might be planning in relation to local government. Examples from recent meetings have had representatives from:

  • DfT – Blue Badge programme
  • Cabinet Office – Digital Britain, Id Assurance
  • DfE – Employee Authentication Services
  • BIS – UK Broadband programme, Post Office programme
  • DCLG – Central Local Digital Collaboration
  • DWP – Tell Us Once, Universal Credit
  • Home Office – Single Non-Emergency Number (101)

It is good that Local Government has the opportunity to provide feedback from the front-line about the realities of providing face to face services. A neat example is the assumption that broadband is ubiquitous and that claims for benefits could be ‘driven on-line’. It was pointed out that broadband is one of the luxuries that go when a household needs to claim benefits. Another example is a department representative having to apologise to irate Chief Executives about by-passing them in a survey of redundancy costs in a specific service.

The governance of central government projects needs much wider involvement of local government experts. They need to appreciate the diversity of requirements around the country and not assume that a token consultation with a couple of representatives is sufficient. Too much of the initial strategy and architectural work is done by World Class Enterprise Management Consultants; their experience of deprivation is as limited as the policy makers from Whitehall.

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