Mike Bracken

My Reflections on UKGovCamp 2012

by Mike Bracken. Average Reading Time: about 2 minutes.

I really enjoyed being able to get to UKGovCamp 2012 last Friday where I had a chance to outline some of our thinking around GOV.UK.

My reference to Chatham House Rules got an interesting reaction – I only meant in relation to further circulation of the slide deck – not to what I was actually saying. I wanted people at GovCamp to be the first to see the presentation given the importance of your work to date – but could not circulate something externally that had yet to go through formal sign off. Lesson learned. In any event as @LouLouK flushed out that there are a myriad of interpretations for the phrase Chatham House Rules.

I think it was important too to have the opportunity to acknowledge the very valuable contribution to the change agenda that GovCamp has made. Many of the attendees are those who have been at the vanguard for many years calling for deep integration of digital into government.

While the establishment of GDS is an important first step there is a huge amount of work to be done to change hearts and minds across Government if we are to achieve the ambitions of Digital By Default. It is about understanding how we can continue to listen and be open to the views of those in the Government digital community, because as Shane rightly points out in his blog what happens when the current innovators in GDS move on, or a new generation of users need services, where will the innovation come from? We need Govcampers to be our critical friends going forward so I definitely don’t agree with Shane that it’s mission accomplished. Far from it.

So this is an open call to UKGovcamp participants to continue engaging with us in GDS. Whether that’s by submitting guest blogs here or by pointing us to examples of best practice that we can highlight. It’s important that GDS remains a part of the government digital family, not just within Whitehall but beyond.

Martin Howitt reflects in his blog that “The Government Digital Service used to be us. Now it’s them.” I am not happy with that definition. The mission for GDS, outlined by Martha Lane Fox, requires us all to collaborate, so I am determined to sustain this conversation from UKGovcamp and open up GDS to the widest possible audience. We recognise that we have not communicated as much as we would have liked in the recent past, but we have had to reorder the entire digital operation within central Government very quickly. This blog, our visit to GovCamp and subsequent attempts to communicate more effectively should see us work better with the many digital interest groups and supporters around government.

You can check out the buzz from UK GovCamp 2012 here and please do stay in touch with us, in the first instance contact Emer Coleman our recently appointed Deputy Director of Digital Engagement who can be found @emercoleman or by email.