More online government innovation

There seems to be a head of steam being built up here, folks.

The Department for Innovation, University and Skills – who ought to be good at this stuff, really – has launched a new minisite called Innovation Nation : Interactive. It’s a consultation exercise around the Innovation Nation strategy, but is much more fun than the usual “here’s a PDF and an email address” approach. Here’s how they describe it themselves:

We’d like to hear your views and feedback on the Innovation Nation strategy that we published in March 2008, to help inform the implementation of the strategy. This is an interactive version of the Executive Summary of the document, where you can comment on each paragraph individually, or on sections as a whole.

It runs on WordPress (natch) and the CommentPress theme – one of a new breed of templates that change the way that sites work as well as the way they look. It’s a really nicely put together site.

Steph Gray, the blogging Social Media Manager at DIUS, puts it thus on his site:

In terms of the technology story, it’s amazing how CommentPress transforms a plain vanilla blogging format into such a dynamic tool for analysing a text, and just how easy it is to implement. Inspired by Glyn from Open Rights Group at a TeaCamp a while back, the site was put together in less than a day (though we’ve done less fancy customisation than ORG’s impressive implementation). The project is also one of the first public outings of our sandbox server, designed to be at arm’s length from the corporate site and with greater scope to test innovative tools and approaches online. Finally, we also used the excellent MailBuild email distribution system to help alert key stakeholders and contributors to the initial consultation about the new site via a branded email.

But we hope the bigger story will be the breaking down of the classic consult/deliver dichotomy which we’re challenging policy teams to overcome. We’d love this interactive document to become a place where policymakers, stakeholders and interested citizens come together to help move a policy forward, and we’ll be doing our best to act as a bridge between commenters and the civil servants who are working hard to change things. Don’t underestimate the scale of the cultural challenge here: we’re asking seasoned, busy public servants with a familiar way of working to take extra time and effort to make engagement a continuous process – and to do so in a whole new way.

I certainly encourage anyone with an interest in innovation in the public, private or third sectors to visit the site and leave constructive feedback where you can.

4 thoughts on “More online government innovation”

  1. Doesn’t seem to work in Firefox3+NoScript – no comments and runs out off the right of the viewport with no horizontal scrollbar. Accessibility Fail?

  2. Have passed your comments on to the relevant folk at DIUS, MJ.

    Still it’s great to see those that can access the site’s functionality putting comments up – and even getting responses from Policy people!

  3. In other words, there’s a party and me or anyone else running secured browsers are not invited. Excuse me if I’m not excited, impressed or particularly happy about this event. It’s like West Norfolk’s e-Planning all over again :-/

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