Between 2000-2002, we designed, developed and led deployment of the UK Government-wide ‘Knowledge Network’. It enabled the UK Government to become the first in the world to enable its civil servants to collaborate online in a secure environment beyond departmental firewalls.
Delivered through a consultancy contract with the Cabinet Office, and working as part of 10 Downing Street, we led procurement and contract negotiations resulting in a 50-strong team comprising in-house civil servants, IBM, Lotus and Cable and Wireless. As a member of the Cabinet Office Senior Management Team, we then knitted together and led this team of business change managers, technical developers and support staff, account managers and communications leads, together with further individual project leads in every Government department.
We introduced a series of workflow applications across Government, as well as enabling scores of cross-Government online communities – years before Web 2.0, Shared Services, Social Media or Cloud computing had been invented. Examples included:
- 22 online departmental ‘ministerial policy briefing systems’, allowing policy officials to create, maintain and disseminate key aspects and explanations of government policy;
- CabCom – a community for Ministerial Private Office staff to share papers and background knowledge to prepare Ministers for Cabinet Committees – leading to the abolition of the paper-based processes across Government;
- The Electronic Library for Government – a community site for the Government Information Managers and Librarians Community – sharing key policy resources, job opportunities and professional development resources – launched by the Cabinet Secretary;
- FCO Ecpolnet (one of four global FCO ‘Nets’) – a secure global community for the Foreign Office linking economic policy analysts in embassies around the world to share economic policy briefing and supporting knowledge;
- EUPol – reduces the amount of duplication needed to disseminate information, and helps to provide UK embassies in the European Union with up to date knowledge of the UK’s engagement with the EU and Member States, wider EU policy initiatives and easily accessible reference material, reports, articles and links;
- SDNet – built for and financed by the Sustainable Development and Commonwealth Group in the FCO so that officials throughout the world can share information and knowledge on environment and sustainable development issues;
- StatNet – the UK Government Statistical Service Intranet site – used by government statisticians either working from their department or at home. It helps improve communication across government and provides a link to important GSS documents and facilities, including events, a directory of staff and vacancies;
- an on-line ‘knowledge pool’ for the Cabinet Office Performance and Innovation Unit to link together policy experts across government and ultimately beyond, to lay the foundations for true evidence-based policy making;
- A community for HM Treasury and colleagues in all departments sharing knowledge of departments’ progress towards meeting their Public Service Agreements;
- A community for the Regulatory Impact Unit to allow departments to share knowledge through Regulatory Impact statements and background information on-line – to make the whole government-wide picture available to everyone in one place;
- An on-line community for the Government Legal Service, called Legal Information Online Network (LION) to enable its members to better co-ordinate their activities and share strategic legal information, access to core knowledge repositories and background knowledge – with over 2,500 active members
The Knowledge Network was commended by Government Computing 2002 awards in the category “the project that has done most to advance e-government” and we were awarded the prize of “Innovator of the Year.” We also won the Management Consultancies Association award for Best Management Practice in IT. One leading industry magazine commented
“You’re not going to believe this, but the Government has just won an award for IT.”