Government 2010: Adam Afriyie

Onto the last two talks before lunch! First up, Shadow Minister for Science and Innovation, Adam Afriyie. He confesses straight away that he would keep closely to his notes — for fear of getting the sack.

Of course, this is a campaign speech, and the opening is an attack on Labour’s record on government IT projects:

Labour “slapped an ‘e-‘ in front of everything that moved”.

He argues that the Labour government has moved too slowly in response to upheaval in the computing landscape, and puts forward three Tory principles for IT policy. The power-word he’s using here is “openness” – he used it in every other sentence! Those principles are:

  • Big is not always better, especially because budgets are tight. If you run multiple cheap early-stage pilots and pick up the winners and scale those up nationally, it could make it easier for small companies (now I’m listening!) get access to Government contracts.
  • Open procurement, and smaller, more flexible projects and systems – which opens the market for open source. Claims £600m potential savings a year; and government look to the market for solutions. Dictate outcomes, not technologies. The Conservatives are, apparently, into cloud computing (arguing that it’s cheaper and greener).
  • Empowerment: for instance, the Conservatives are reporting their expenses claims, in real time, through Google Docs. Obviously Boris Johnson’s crime maps are a key talking point: Adam brings them back up, and Craig Elder (also of the Conservatives) was mentioning them earlier. In that vein, David Cameron has proposed a “right to data” – if Government data is not personally/diplomatically sensitive, it should be freely available online.

On the right to data:

This is the unfinished business of the Freedom of Information Act

This, and another buzz-phrase – “the post-bureaucratic age” – are soundbites which we’ll be hearing often between now and the general election.

Next – Tom Steinberg of mySociety.