At the public sector web management group conference

Back from Birmingham, and from solving a few ‘local difficulties’ with my broadband supplier, with some observations on attending the inaugural meeting of the public sector web management group.

I travelled up the evening before on the back of a pretty grotty illness so I wasn’t expecting much in terms of my contribution or what I would pick up. I was right on the former but on the latter, the event was very enlightening.

The key (but I suppose unsurprising) thing was how much central government and local government webbies have got in common – similar concerns (central control, lack of budget or resources, great desire to improve things for the citizen) and a great deal of goodwill about sharing knowledge and expertise. Whilst our perspectives might be different our aims are pretty aligned.

It was good to finally meet up with people I only knew previously from their websites, blogs or rants and get their slant on the issues affecting public sector web. There was a genuine commitment to  try and improve our lot collectively and a small committee has formed to try and harness the goodwill and  keep the momentum going.

The things that stood out for me:

  • Strong desire to use our collective voice for putting forward an ‘industry view’ on matters of consultation and debate around the development of public sector online
  • Revelation from one of the speakers that the next stage of their intranet development is ‘turning it off in three years time’ – an obvious extension of the ‘corporate website is increasingly irrelevant‘ mantra
  • Good mix of visionaries and pragmatists – ‘Second Life is the future, you should give it a go’ vs ‘You cannot justify spending a single penny in Second Life until you get your email distribution and website usability right’ (couldn’t agree more…)

All in all, an excellent event. Credit to Dan Champion and Public Sector Forums for putting it on. Hopefully next time I won’t feel so crap and remember to take more notes.

  1. A noisy voice from local government here! I was at the event too but I openly raised the point with Peter from Lincolnshire that he wasn’t, in fact, “turning off” his Intranet because it wasn’t actually an Intranet; it was a knowledge management tool. The staff search was completely independent of any other directory that may have existed and the “Intranet” offered no links to online systems. All of that, of course, is an internal issue for Peter and his council but I wouldn’t want anyone reading your blog to think that it was an endorsement of “corporate websites being increasingly irrelevant”. I believe they’re more relevant than ever and can be used in increasingly creative ways to improve delivery of information, systems and communication.

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