I am the recruitment bellwether (possibly)
I honestly think that the Government Digital Service (GDS to those who can’t be bothered to type all that) is recruiting by seeing who tweets regularly in my “Gov-Types” list on twitter and hiring them.
Clearly I don’t really.
I think that I follow some really interesting and innovative government types and the GDS is recruiting really interesting and innovative government types.
Make no mistake. This is a really, really good thing.
I want my government to be excellent. I want genuinely talented people to find roles driving innovation and transformation in the civil service. I want innovative, talented and creative people to be successful, to have rewarding and fulfilling roles and to work in the public sector.
The GDS is tasked with transforming government digital services. It’s recruiting talented folk. It’s working in innovative ways.
On finding that the excellent James Cattell is leaving the world of local stuff to join the world of national stuff I did tweet that I worried on the implications for local government. Not about James specifically (he’s good but other talented folk exist) but about inexorable the pull of the centre.
Actually is there a problem?
The arguments that say this is good for local gov:
- if the cabinet office is doing it then it strengthens the case for local authorities doing it
- these innovators that I see being sucked into Whitehall may not stay there forever and when they come out, imagine what skills and talents they will bring with them
- this is the 21st Century and GDS recruits aren’t locked into a black box and prevented from communicating with the outside world. Rather the opposite. We can collaborate, learn and innovate together
The arguments that say this is bad for local gov:
- if all the people with talent, drive and innovation go and work somewhere else, local government will be a poorer place
- the GDS is part of a vicious circle of London-centrism, the GDS is in London, talented people are in London, if you want to do innovative cool stuff you have to do it in London. One of the really great things about local government is that it is massively decentralised and, er, not really based in London
- as the GDS becomes better, faster and stronger the case for central government running local digital services will grow ever stronger
The arguments that say it makes no difference at all:
- there are a lot of talented people to go round. So a few of them sign up to the civil service, there are plenty more where they came from. And the GDS is pretty small in the grand scheme of things
- there are massive cuts in the public sector weighing very heavily on local government, these people wouldn’t have jobs for long anyway
- this is nothing new, the civil services has always saught to drag talented folk to London and the world has not ended as a result
Let’s build GDS Local..?
Most of these arguments seem to me to have some viability. There’s been some chatter on twitter today about a GDS for local goverment. Which I have, at that level, heartily supported.
It does raise the interesting question of what would it do?
Linking it to my bullet points above. I guess it would need to
- transform local government digital services (especially if they’d been innovating in Whitehall)
- recruit, nurture and develop talented innovative folk
- not be the only place where talent resides (or assume that it is)
- not be based in or near London. In fact better if it were decentralised across the country.
- be managed by local government (maybe local public services) not central
- be open, collaborative and innovative part of the central government and local government family as well as being part of the wider community
And I look at this and I think. What does this look like?
Or is it a series of collaborations and partnerships?
Or to put it another way. What is the problem that we need a local gov GDS to fix that we cannot fix with what we have?
And my head starts to spin and I have to stop writing.