Civil servants civilly serve

Civil servants are individually and collectively approaching an ethical challenge. That would be dangerous territory at the best of times, but it is made doubly so by the fact that vanishingly few of them have spotted that there is a challenge at all. There is a resounding silence of leadership on the most fundamental challenge […]

It’s beginning

Five years ago on election day, I wrote a post about civil servants’ use of social media during general election campaigns, arguing that it was time to start thinking about the next election. This time round the traditional rules and the new means of expression have managed to co-exist without too much difficulty. But we are all […]

Locally centralising the centrally local

Seen from a certain distance, local government looks untidy and inefficient. The same functions are replicated hundreds of times over. There is limited scale efficiency of operations. Boundaries create anomalies and inconsistencies. So it must make sense to join it all up, to standardise, to have common platforms and common tools. The counter-argument is that […]

Digital is political

Governments govern. Oppositions oppose – or, more positively, present an alternative set of policies based on an alternative political perspective. Political initiatives taken by one government will be looked at critically by its potential successors, for the obvious reason that the decisions embodied in those initiatives will have been taken by people with different political […]

The phoenix and the constitution

It is hard to change constitutions – deliberately so.  It is hard to re-engineer physical infrastructure – intrinsically so.  It is hard to stop and start again from scratch. Every decision and every context in which those decisions are made is the product of what has gone before, even when in another sense they may […]

Should the long tail wag the dog?

The burial of human remains at sea requires a marine licence. That must be one of the more arresting first lines of any government web page. Its combination of human tragedy and bureaucratic process packs a lot into eleven words. You won’t find that line, or anything else on the subject, at Directgov. That’s neither surprising […]