Government on the Web blogs en Interactive Map of Central Government Online <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-blog-tags"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Big Data </div> <div class="field-item even"> Citizen-Government Interactions </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Digital Era Governance </div> </div> </div> <div class="all-attached-images"><div class="image-attach-body image-attach-node-78" style="width: 100px;"><a href="/?q=content/ukgov2-620png"><img src="" alt="ukgov2-620.png" title="ukgov2-620.png" class="image image-thumbnail " width="100" height="64" /></a></div> </div><p>We have collected and visualized a pilot crawl of UK Central Government websites in late 2011, showing all hyperlinks between central departments and the size of departmental web sites. This work was funded by the <a href="/projects/70">ESRC Internet, Public Policy and Political Science project</a> and the JISC-funded <a href="">InteractiveVis project</a>. The UK government digital landscape is set for some major changes with the replacement of the portal with the new portal --- it will be interesting to see the difference in network configuration when we carry out the crawl again later this year.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>Please click the image below for an <a href="">interactive HTML5 exploration of the crawl data</a>. (Please note, this requires an up-to-date browser: Firefox, Chrome, Opera, IE9+.)</p> <p><a href=""><img src="/sites/" /></a></p> <style> .all-attached-images {display: none;} </style> Big Data Citizen-Government Interactions Digital Era Governance frontpage ippps Tue, 23 Oct 2012 08:15:20 +0000 Scott A. Hale 79 at Prof Helen Margetts serves on UK Digital Advisory Board <p>OII Director Helen Margetts is one of twelve expert members of the new Digital Advisory Board in the UK. Chaired by UK Digital Champion Martha Lane Fox, the board will support the UK Government to deliver a revolution in online services.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><script src=""></script><p><noscript>[<a href="" target="_blank">View the story "Digital Advisory Board appointed for Government" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> frontpage ipps Thu, 26 Apr 2012 16:49:32 +0000 Scott A. Hale 77 at Join our team: Big Data Research Officer needed <p>We are excited to announce an open position for a Big Data Research Officer, who will contribute to three exciting Big Data projects at the OII (Leaders and Followers in Online Activism, <a href="">Big Data: Demonstrating the Value of the UK Web Domain Dataset for Social Science Research</a>, and <a href="">The Internet, Political Science and Public Policy</a>). We are looking for an individual with strong computer science skills and an interest in the social aspects of online technologies.</p> <p>Applications close 16 March, and further information, contact details, and application information are available on <a href=" ">the University of Oxford's Job Search website</a>.</p> bigdata frontpage ippps Sat, 18 Feb 2012 20:21:51 +0000 Scott A. Hale 75 at Government and IT report released <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-blog-tags"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Digital Era Governance </div> </div> </div> <p>The Government on the Web team is pleased to announce the publication of <em>Government and IT&#151;"a recipe for rip-offs": Time for a new approach: Further Report</em> by the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee. The report incorporates the Government's response to the Committee's Twelfth Report of 2010-12 of the same name and includes comments from Professor Helen Margetts, Oxford Internet Institute, and Professor Patrick Dunleavy and Jane Tinkler, LSE Public Policy Group.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>The new report with the Government's response is available in PDF format at:<br /> <a href=""></a>. A HTML version and further information about the report can be found on <a href="">the Select Committee's webpage</a>.</p> <p>The Committee's original report, <em>Government and IT&#151;"a recipe for rip-offs": time for a new approach, Twelfth Report of Session 2010-12</em>, published on 28 July 2011 can be found here:<br/><a href=""></a></br/></p> <p>The press-release for the report follows:<br /> <strong>Pasc Insists Government IT Strategy has Still To Address Challenges Of "Intelligent" Procurement</strong></p> <p>Government IT procurement strategy is still lacking in its commitment to independent benchmarking of contracts with transparent data, failing to understand the risks of legacy systems, remains unclear about how to address the IT skills gap with sufficiently senior and experienced people, and must move faster to implement ‘digital by default' to design better IT services.  Government must build "in house" contracting capacity if it is to achieve its intended cost reductions and address the significant challenges facing it in large procurement projects.  </p> <p>In a follow up report on the Government's response to the Committee's report into IT procurement in Government, released today Thursday 26th February, 2012, PASC commends the Government for its generally constructive and proactive response, but points out key areas where the Government's intended course of action will not be sufficient to address "the scale of behavioural and process change required across government" to achieve its own aims of becoming an "intelligent" customer.  </p> <p>The government has also failed to respond at all to the Committee's call for an investigation into the charge that the large systems integrators operate in the manner of a cartel. </p> <p>The Committee's report concluded that a lack of up-to-date and accurate information about government IT made it impossible for the Government to identify potential overcharging, leading to the waste of an "obscene amount of public money". It recommended an independent investigation into allegations of cartel-like behaviour among suppliers, and that the Government work with "independent and specialist advisers and the NAO" to "seek to identify reliable and comparable cost benchmarks, and collect accurate information from departments in order to compare with those benchmarks." The Committee now says the Cabinet Office's commitment (in the response) to benchmarking through transparent data will help, but without also taking the independent external advice recommended by the Committee the overall outcome will not change, and the Government will not achieve its cost reduction agenda.</p> <p>The Committee is also not convinced by the Government‘s approach to "legacy systems" – how the transition from existing to new IT systems is handled -  properly addresses the underlying issues.  At the very least, the Government should produce a long term risk-register identifying where and when investment will be needed to migrate and replace existing legacy systems. </p> <p>The Committee welcomes and endorses the Government's acknowledgement of the need to grow its capacity in commercial skills of procuring and managing contracts,  not just technical IT skills, in order to become an 'intelligent customer'. However, the Committee remains concerned that the Government's plans may not be adequate to cope with the scale of behavioural and process change required across the whole of Government, nor that the new Civil Service champions of ‘agile development' will have sufficient seniority, expertise or support. </p> <p>The Committee says there are obvious areas in which the Government could go further and move faster to implement 'digital by default'.  For example, officials should be rewarded for using social media and digital channels to disseminate information and provide services (especially where this reduces reliance on other, more expensive channels). User feedback submitted via the Directgov site provides the Government with a great deal of free data on the strengths and weaknesses of its service provision.  The Government must make good use of it, alongside other information from social media produced outside Directgov itself, to understand better how its services are used and perceived and, in turn, to design better services.</p> <p>Bernard Jenkin MP, Chair of the Committee said:<br /> "This was a generally constructive response which we welcome, but it does not suggest that the government yet grasps how much must be done.  The problems in IT procurement go deep and require major changes.  This can only be achieved by bringing in IT executives and buyers from large and small companies, who understand what they are buying and the innovations on offer.  This expertise cannot be contracted out.  It is a people challenge.  The few new people brought in so far are having to battle against the failed culture of the establishment.  We also renew our recommendation of an independent investigation into allegations of cartel-like behaviour among the major systems integrators, which itself may prove structural rather than deliberate.  We may have to return to this issue in a future inquiry."</p> Digital Era Governance frontpage Thu, 26 Jan 2012 16:57:44 +0000 Scott A. Hale 73 at Prof Helen Margetts' remarks at London Cyberspace Conference <p>Helen Margetts spoke at the <a href="">London Conference on Cyberspace</a>, organized by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 1-2 November. Although much of the conference was dedicated to the the darker side of the Internet&#8212;Internet threats and cybersecurity&#8212;some of the conference was dedicated to looking at <a href="">the social benefits of the Internet and how they might be maximized</a>. This session was chaired by Francis Maude, and other speakers included the President of Estonia, Toomas Ilves, and Neelie Kroes, the Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for the Digital Agenda.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><h2>Full text of Prof Margetts' remarks</h2> <p>Talk to FCO London Cyberspace Conference 1-2 November 2011<br/>Seeing like a citizen&#8212;not seeing like a state?</br/></p> <p>The Internet has brought all kinds of change to social, economic and political life. Basically, in countries with significant levels of internet penetration&#8212;most developed countries and even some developing ones&#8212;many citizens live quite a lot of their lives on-line&#8212;shopping, working, socializing, dating, making travel plans&#8212;even making love, banking, saving, borrowing, playing games and entertaining themselves. When it comes to interacting with government in any way&#8212;people expect to do that online too. Unlike earlier information technologies&#8212;which were largely internal to organizations, particularly government&#8212;the Internet is used by society at large as well. In fact, in many countries&#8212;including this one&#8212;citizens have been a lot more innovative with the Internet than government, especially when it comes to collective action, mobilization and citizen engagement. After two decades of bemoaning political disengagement, we should realize that Internet-based forms of engagement are on the rise. Posting political content on social media has jumped straight into the 'ladder of participation' measured by the bi-annual Oxford Internet Survey at nearly 10% of internet users.</p> <p>This new environment can bring lots of social benefits, but also new challenges to governments. First, I’ll talk about the benefits. This environment offers government agencies new potential to interact with citizens efficiently. In an age of austerity, 'digital by default' strategies offer real potential to save money. Multi-channel approaches, much heralded throughout the last decade, are really expensive. Incentivizing&#8212;and even mandating&#8212;citizens to interact electronically really saves money. I don’t have to tell the President of Estonia about that. Some commentators&#8212;including me&#8212;argue that government needs to go further: to become inherently digital, where Internet-based technologies are centre stage in government, where many processes are 'zero touch,' without human intervention, where government agencies 'become' their electronic presence.</p> <p>Inherently digital government&#8212;as well as being more efficient&#8212;can be more effective, higher quality, more citizen-focused. There is a lot of 'free' data out there on the Internet, as citizens go about their business on social media platforms, expressing their opinions, ranking and rating goods and services, participating in social networks and civic associations they leave a digital imprint. This is what we call 'big data,' a new sort of data&#8212;not survey data that tells us what people think they might do, or think they have done, but real data, transactional data about what they really did or really think, now. As social scientists, it is a challenge to work out what this data means&#8212;it is not the sort of data we are used to dealing with, it doesn’t have handy demographics attached like a survey. But it is worth doing because all this data can give government a much better understanding of citizens' behaviour, preferences and needs. It gives government information that it doesn’t currently have about hospitals and schools, about tax and social welfare, about initiatives that could&#8212;or do&#8212;make up civil society&#8212;or the 'big' society&#8212;about riots, demonstrations, protests and unrest. Information that can be used to match policy to preferences, match services to what citizens are willing&#8212;and are not&#8212;willing to do, in terms of managing their own affairs, for example, as they do with their banks accounts. </p> <p>This inherently digital environment also allows policy-makers the possibility to 'nudge' their citizens in certain directions. If people are doing so many things on-line, then online environments can be manipulated to foster certain types of behaviour. People’s actions can be made anonymous&#8212;or visible&#8212;our experimental research at OII has shown that visibility is the 'killer app'&#8212;make people visible and they are far more likely to make charitable donations or contribute to the public good, to environmental initiatives, for example. The Internet allows the provision or not of 'social information'&#8212;real-time information about what other people are doing which will cause certain types of behaviour. Again, experimental research at the OII have shown that social information is the key in making civic engagement more efficient, making the most of citizens' willingness to act collectively. But research has also shown how social information makes mobilization more volatile&#8212;can bring flash mobilizations or tipping points. Most mobilizations fail&#8212;data we have collected shows that 95 per cent of petitions to the UK government in 2010 failed to get even the 500 signatures required for an official response. But the ones that succeed grew exponentially and rapidly in unpredictable ways, even bringing policy U-turns (as in road-pricing policy under the last government, or forestry privatization under this one) and posing challenges to political unity (as in the recent parliamentary debate on an EU referendum).</p> <p>Now the challenges. None of these social benefits come automatically. In this new environment, government can struggle to remain 'nodal,' to be at the centre of social and informational networks. Government agencies have a culture of thinking that people will come to them, allowing them to act like a privileged watchtower, before which everyone must pass. Before the Internet, this was probably true&#8212;if you wanted to contact a service delivery organization, or complain, or express a policy opinion, or set up a local organization, you would probably contact the government or a legislative representative. But in cyberspace, you can do all these things without interacting with government at all. Research shows that when citizens seek government-related information, only around half of the time will they get it from the government itself. The UK government's site is festooned with 'Twitter' and 'Facebook' buttons, but if government wants to generate debate or discussion&#8212;it can't rely on people actually using them. Engagement on the Internet starts outside government. When the current UK government announced the plan to privatize forests, they put out a consultation. But the successful opposition to the plan came largely from outside the government&#8212;the pressure group 38 Degrees, Twitter and Facebook campaigns and petitions all started from within online social networks. As someone from Downing St. put it, "It was a genuine cock-up on our part. We honestly did not think we would get this response."</p> <p>All this means that governments can struggle to 'catch up' with citizens using and switching between an increasing array of social media platforms. Autocratic regimes have fallen into disarray amidst the demonstrations, mobilizations, riots and generalized unrest of the Arab Spring. In democratic regimes, the financial crash and crisis has brought social backlash and protest against state retrenchment, public sector cutbacks and even market capitalism itself&#8212;to the surprise and even shock of policy-makers and institutions, from governments to police to the Church of England. All these mobilizations are larger, more effective, more public, more volatile and more important because of the Internet.</p> <p>Just before the Internet got famous, in 1998, the political anthropologist James Scott wrote a book called 'Seeing Like a State,' where he bemoaned the tendency of states to impose high modernist top-down hierarchical plans on their citizenries and environments. The Internet allows governments to move away from this model, but to do this will have to reach out rather than in, use the 'big data' I have talked about, accept blurred boundaries between government and society, be agile enough to anticipate and work with massive shifts between social media platforms, from Myspace to Facebook to Tumblr and beyond&#8212;different, in different countries. In short, government has to become more messy and disorganized, less hierarchical&#8212;and in some people's minds, less governmental. For governments to make the best of cyberspace they will need to work out ways of using the Internet to 'see like a citizen,' rather than 'seeing like a state.'</p> frontpage Mon, 14 Nov 2011 21:18:08 +0000 Scott A. Hale 72 at New research project: The Internet, Public Policy and Political Science <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-blog-tags"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Digital Era Governance </div> <div class="field-item even"> Collective Action </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Citizen-Government Interactions </div> </div> </div> <p>We will begin a new three-year research programme on <em>The Internet, Public Policy and Political Science: Collective Action, Governance and Citizen-Government Interactions in the Digital Era</em> starting 1st April.</p> <p>More information about this project is available in the <a href=""><strong>OII press release</strong></a>, and <a href=""><strong>project description page</strong></a>.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>This research programme aims to assess where political science understanding, knowledge and theory should be re-examined and developed in light of widespread use of the Internet, and to develop methodologies to study online behaviour.</p> Citizen-Government Interactions Collective Action Digital Era Governance frontpage ippps Fri, 01 Apr 2011 17:14:48 +0000 Scott A. Hale 67 at The net effect: Is the internet really vital to contemporary protest? <div class="all-attached-images"><div class="image-attach-body image-attach-node-65" style="width: 100px;"><a href="/?q=content/tahrir-square"><img src="" alt="Tahrir Square" title="Tahrir Square" class="image image-thumbnail " width="100" height="66" /></a></div> </div><p>Professor Helen Margetts was recently featured on the <a href="">The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)</a> website writing about the importance of the Internet to contemporary protest. The <a href="">full article is available at their website</a>.</p> <blockquote><p> 2011 is bringing dramatic political developments in a growing list of Arab states, including Tunisia, Jordan, Algeria, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain and Egypt, where mass demonstrations are challenging authoritarian regimes. The media has associated the internet with all these protests but in Egypt the internet was cut off for six days on day three of the 18-day protest leading to the unseating of President Mubarak. So is the internet really vital to contemporary protest, or is the 'net effect' insignificant? </p></blockquote> <p><a href="">Read the full article</a>.</p> frontpage ippps Thu, 10 Mar 2011 17:31:21 +0000 Scott A. Hale 66 at Video: Professor Margetts acts as an expert witness to the House of Commons Public Administration Committee <!--break--><!--break--><p><strong>Update: 11 March 2011</strong><br /> <a href="">The Guardian has reported on the committee meeting on its website</a>.</p> <p>On Tuesday, 8th March, Helen Margetts (Oxford Internet Institute) acted as an expert witness to the House of Commons Public Administration Committee, which is running an investigation entitled Good Governance: The effective use of Information Technology. The Committee Chair started proceedings by referring to our study, <a href="/publications/22">Digital Era Governance</a>, which identified the UK as an outlier in terms of e-government performance, the size and length of information technology contracts and the concentration of the market of computer companies providing services to government. Witnesses were asked a range of questions about procurement and contracting of information technology and the design of government IT projects, probing the reasons why the UK government holds a reputation for IT disasters. The other witnesses were Dr Ian Brown (also from the Oxford Internet Institute) and Dr Edgar Whitley (from LSE). The session can be viewed at <a href=""></a> and more information is available on the <a href="">committee's homepage</a>.</p> <p align="center"> <script src=" 460x322"></script></p><p>The embeddable video above from requires Microsoft Silverlight, but <a href=";player=windowsmedia">another version using Windows Media Player format</a> is also available from</p> frontpage Thu, 10 Mar 2011 17:15:14 +0000 Scott A. Hale 64 at