[Imc-oxford] Is anyone interested in the ID problem ?
sarahlasenby at breathemail.net
Fri Jun 24 12:43:26 PDT 2005
Can anyone throw light on what GCExpo is ? I received this comment and thought it might be something people might be interested in acting on ?
GCExpo, ID and the state of the government IT community
I'm pleased to report the government IT community is in fine fettle to judge from the huge GCExpo at Earl's Court. There's a non-nonsense mood of delivery, efficiency and professionalisation afoot, and a renewed sense of top-down backing from the PM via government CIO Ian Watmore.
They still show varying degrees of wariness and ineptitude in dealing with the media - let's call it an expectation that the media also needs to professionalise in its coverage of government IT people and government IT issues and not zap these people when they try honestly to raise issues that need to be tackled.
It's great to hear government IT professionals say "We can do it". But only when they're involved in the agenda setting will they be able to say "Let's do it right."
Kim Cameron and Chris Gahan did a sterling job of unpacking the identity crisis - exploring a user requirement, explaining Kim's universal Laws of Identity, pointing to the imminent identity big bang. Without criticising the UK's plans publicly they set out two credible routes which achieve the desired aims without the unpleasant ones.
Perhaps we should ask the IT trade association Intellect to host one of its secretive Home Office/industry love-ins in one secure seminar room at the next big GCExpo, with a demonstration area for biometric registration. We could then invite the LSE, FIPR, Privacy International, No2ID, DefyID, the Law Society, a bunch of MPs and Quaker Peace and Social Witness to a peaceful resolve-stiffening session just down the corridor, with a demonstration area for activists to burn giant ID cards and effigies of the Home Secretary. We could arrange a video link between the two seminar rooms, or have an intermediary run up and down the corridor reporting progress like at a frosty Northern Ireland or middle-east peace summit. There's still a sense of ne'er the twain shall meet. Would Charles Clarke speak at the first? Would Gordon Brown speak at the second?
But where do the government's big-hitting top civilian IT professionals stand on this matter? The answer may surprise you. I can't tell you who said it or where but the several we discussed it with are pretty damn uncomfortable about the Home Office/Intellect plans. None spoke a word in defence. It doesn't help them and their considered professional opinion is that it's a disaster waiting to happen. They're pretty relaxed about it because, as one of them put it affectionately, "the ability of the UK public to create mayhem is almost unfathomable". When that happens, it won't be their problem. Colleagues in other departments don't in the least mind the prospect of watching the Home Office getting zapped by the media for the next 10 years.
There are still policy wonks who think the Home Office ID plan is a good idea. But the big-hitting IT professionals from other mega-departments don't feel consulted, feel this will simply be forced upon them, but don't feel it is their role to add to their considerable existing responsibilities by speaking unwelcome truths to powerful people. This is perhaps understandable, but in this particular respect, I would argue they need to professionalise still further. There's a collective board responsibility and as the ones who understand the implications of IT they have a crucial role to play.
I wonder whether there is a serious IT professional who would take on the role of chief executive of the Identity Agency without the power and mandate to approach the whole thing differerently. The headhunters must be getting some valuable feedback. I wish they'd share it. I hope at least they pass it up the line.
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