Innovate and co-create with citizens online


Innovation budget

The Taskforce judges that successful leading high tech businesses will spend at least 10% of their budget on innovation, data reported by Booz & Co suggests as much as 13.6% for software and internet companies. Given the speed at which the internet and people’s use of it changes the government’s leading web sites need to keep pace with innovation online.  The rapid rise of social networking sites demonstrates how innovation can rapidly change people’s communication habits.  With over 60% of the population online and American studies showing that more people use the internet for news than the traditional press, it is particularly important for government sites to innovate themselves, given their central role in communications.

The Taskforce is making a range of recommendations that will require leading government sites to innovate.  These sites are in the Taskforce’s view adequately funded to innovate but by demonstrating more transparency in how they do so would aid the innovation process.  The Taskforce would like to see explicit provision made for investment in innovation, plans for such investment published and some central co-ordination to ensure that this effort is pooled and not duplicative.

One of the benefits of Show Us A Better Way was to see what information and services people wanted. The government should use their experience of running a  ‘backstage’ service to get a sense of the relative priority of different areas.  This should then be linked to funding API development for the data and services of greatest potential utility. Requests submitted through the data unlocking service created by OPSI, part of the National Archives, in response to a recommendation in the original Power of Information report should also help guide this prioritisation..

Recommendation 4

Invest in innovation that directly benefits the public by ensuring that public sector websites spend about as much on innovation as leading knowledge businesses.  DirectGov, BusinessLink and NHS Choices should create a combined innovation pot of 10% of their budgets, focussed on improving the public experience of government websites, through outside-in innovation not internal requirements.  Some of this money should be used to support development of APIs for data with the greatest demand as demonstrated by ‘backstage’ communities and the OPSI data unlocking service.

Annual plans on how this £10m innovation pool is to be deployed should be published and agreed by a new Head of Digital Engagement.