Government digital service: is the feeling mutualised?

Government’s use of digital media is undergoing radical change. As digital media use has become more mainstream  and critical – first to communications, then policy-making through engagement and more recently for transactions – so too has government steadily rationalised its digital operations. That trend is now coming to a head with the establishment of the Government Digital Service, which will provide centralised services, a single domain and web platform for all government departments and [most of] their agencies to use.

That each department and agency will no longer have its own, separate domain, CMS, hosting arrangement, support contract, analytics account and maybe central web team is genuinely radical. But could the delivery of government digital services be more radical still?

Frances Maude’s speech at Civil Service Live 2011 made me think so. In that speech he floated the idea of giving public sector staff the right to form new mutuals and bid to take over the services they deliver. Could government digital services be a candidate for mutualisation? In this post I suggest that it could.

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Recommended reading… Google is a normal company, the most menancing malware in history and putting strategies to the test

'The Best Way to Read a Book' by pixelevangelist
'The Best Way to Read a Book' by pixelevangelist

A few good long reads that I think are well worth the time…

‘Don’t Be Evil’ by Evgeny Morozov in The New Republic

Evgeny Morozov uses a book review of two new studies of Google as a company to do an iconoclast job on the Silicon Valley behamoth. It’s cutting stuff. He calls Google ‘a for-profit American company that combines the simplistic worldview of George W. Bush with the cold rationality of Barack Obama’. Perhaps, the most painful accusation that Morozov makes is that Google is an not exceptional corporation and its inability to accept this is dangerous not just the company but for us all.

Morozov says ‘writing about Google presents an almost insurmountable challenge. To understand the company and its impact, one needs to have a handle on computer science, many branches of philosophy (from epistemology to ethics), information science, cyberlaw, media studies, sociology of knowledge, public policy, economics, and even complexity theory’; but in this article he gives it a good stab. May I suggest, as an apertif, Steven Levy’s Inside Google+ — How the Search Giant Plans to Go Social.

‘How Digital Detectives Deciphered Stuxnet, the Most Menacing Malware in History’ by Kim Zetter in Wired

A proper whodunit? for the cyber age. Expertly written by Agatha Christie of the cybersecurity genre (just made that up). I shall say no more.

Have you tested your strategy lately? by Chris Bradley, Martin Hirt, and Sven Smit in McKinsey Quarterly

The Office invited Charles Roxburgh in – over our lunch break – to tell us how McKinsey & Company approach strategy. There were lots of good insights from a man who really knows his business strategy (and the American Civil War) and amongst these one of the most useful, I thought, was the 10-point test McKinsey applies to the strategies of its clients to determine whether they are good or bad examples. Lots of useful further reading pegged off the article itself.

On my desktop this week… ‘Misty Trees’ by Hannah Skoonberg

'Misty Trees' by Hannah Skoonberg
'Misty Trees' by Hannah Skoonberg

I am trying to get better at identifying tree species. I am also trying to get better at photographing trees; I never seen to be able to catch their character.

An artist who I think does capture trees beautiful is the printmaker, Hannah Skoonberg. Her portfolio is at

The example I’ve drawn on here reminds me of the forests I used to walk in as a kid. I could stare into it for ages.