Between 2015 - 2018 I contracted for a number of UK government departments, including Government Digital Services (GDS), Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Home Office (UK Passports). Even though I’d studied Politics & German at University, I’d never actually worked in politics, so this was an experience of the political system, at a time when the way public facing service development was becoming ever more digital and user-centric.
I’ve been lucky enough to work and become friends with some amazing Civil Servants and consulting businesses working around government but yet my overwhelming sense, is of Civil Service fighting the tide to “do the right thing” for citizens and society, rather than enabling policy that has the people at its heart.
In the UK, the events of June 2016 now overshadow all policy-making and whilst systemic reform should be the first priority, current events rather indicate the opposite is true. So, whilst digital services are thoroughly researched, tested and built along agile, collaborative principles, it’s not the case that policy is being developed in the same manner. I’ve long wondered what effective user-centric democracy would actually look like. It’s a conversation I have with people, in different government departments.
For example - how could we change the electoral system to reflect the way in which citizens already interact with internet technologies? How can left behind communities become empowered? Essentially, how can politics move from top-down, to bottom-up?