Civil Service Live 2009 is the single largest gathering of civil servants.
Being a shiny new civil servant, attendance was a no-brainer.
I made it along on the Wednesday. I made the following notes:
- The Civil Service is humongous, yet fits neatly inside the London Olympia.
- ‘When it comes to building a better democracy people are more interested in digital engagement than constitutional renewal’ – Alex Allan, Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee.
- Web access is the single biggest obstacle to digital engagement and no one knows the true nature of the challenge; it’s all anecdotal.
- There is a tension between the craftsman and assembly-line approaches to civil service working. It seems to be an argument about quality. Perhaps we need to look to collaborative NPD methods for a compromise and the stride forward. I found a paper on the subject by Ingvild Sundby stimulated some ideas.
- William Perrin‘s ‘Blackhall‘ is a fascinating vision and the revelation that GCHQ thinks blanketing SW1 with secure wifi is possible is tantalising.
- Government is too often a recipient of innovation when it needs to be a source.
- NHS Choices costs £20m a year (Tom Loosemore, Head of 4iP). Choices should try the ‘Facebook approach’ of offering an API to let developers big or small, commercial or not-for-profit to develop parts for the site. Heck, why stop at Choices.
- ‘When blogging, civil servants should stick to openness of process, rather than openness of opinion’ – James Crabtree, Senior Editor at Prospect Magazine.
- There should have been a civil servant on the panel of the ‘Digital Engagement – Building a better democracy’ session.
- At this rate ‘seek forgiveness, not permission’ is going to become the motto of the innovative civil servant.
- Microsoft Surface was fun to use and has serious potential and Infusion have been developing some neat applications for it.
- Every civil servant should go on at least one shadowing or sabbatical during their career, ideally outside of government or in another country.
- COI had the coolest stand. Well done Tiffany and Liz.
- I need to get myself a more portable laptop or a decent smartphone so that I can upload these notes as I take them down.
Looking forward to next year!