#ukgc16 “Local gov seemed very quiet…”

It’s taken me several days to recover from the intensity of UK Govcamp 16, and start to articulate some thoughts to share.

I didn’t go looking for anything specific, really just wanted to dive in and experience the wide range of people and subjects under discussion, and as a result it’s tricky to sum up. But Ann Kempster’s comment on Twitter stuck in my memory so I thought I’d hook this blog onto it as a kind of theme:

I don’t claim to know exactly what Ann meant but her words have all sorts of resonances with me and some experiences I had on Saturday.

  1. Local government folks might be quiet because they are in the eye of the storm. Two months to year end and many of us are driving out budget reductions through some very hard changes to our business models, services, processes and technology. It’s enough to silence even the most gobby of us (yes, that includes me).
  2. We might be quiet because at Govcamp we felt part of a public sector wide conversation and didn’t feel the need to shout about our ‘silo’ – so much of the debate, the challenges and the opportunities are shared and so similar no matter if you are a central or local bod.
  3. I was a bit concerned to learn from a couple of colleagues (who must remain nameless) that some councils are shutting down digital transformation work and might be putting permanent people with service design skills out of work – so some of us might be quiet because we don’t know what our future holds.
  4. Finally, local gov might have been quiet in relative terms because there were probably only a dozen of us in the room, alongside 150+ from across the central govt and wider public sector. I didn’t feel that there was any sense of pressure to be quiet, but inevitably with that many voices to listen to, it’s almost rude for one sector to be so loud it can be distinguished from the individual contributions.

For me, a lot of the day felt like an enjoyable and highly informative sharing of knowledge and ideas from a lot of bright, respectful and energised people. So much so that I didn’t have the energy to go to beercamp afterwards!

I’m going to publish this now, and add to it as thoughts emerge this week. Would love to hear what other local govt digital folks think. 😊

One thought on “#ukgc16 “Local gov seemed very quiet…”

  1. Phil says:

    Here’s four reasons, based on nothing but my own subjective opinion.

    1) There’s comparatively a great deal more funding a resource in central government than local for digital right now, which means the problems the two face are different.

    2) The reason for many digital transformation programmes in local is to find savings, in central it’s better services. Yes, these two are far from mutually exclusive, however having a different desired outcome sometimes means that things aren’t comparable, hence a lack of conversation.

    3) There’s fewer people in local now. They’ll be even fewer in the future.

    4) No one want to sit in a camp and moan about the above, so sometimes it’s best to say nothing.

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