Teaching a class of middle- ranking policy makers last year brought to the foreground an issue I’ve been pondering for a while now. It is this: many officials focus too much on a well-defined problem, and design solutions to fix that problem directly. Indeed, they are taught, and incentivised, to do that. The vast majority of public administration and management courses and text-books preach that … Continue reading The danger of policy – and deliberation – in straight lines
I keep seeing and hearing stories about driverless cars but am getting increasingly struck by a visual image that won’t leave me alone. It’s an image that is making me wonder whether driverless cars are evidence that we have gone collectively insane. Driverless cars are almost always promoted as being a solution to problems of safety, pollution and traffic jams — here, for example — as well as being … Continue reading Am I the only one who thinks driverless cars are a slightly mad idea?
This October I’m moving back down under, to the Centre for Governance and Public Policy at Griffith University, Brisbane. Over the next couple of months I’m going to post reflections on some of what I’ve learned in my 11 year stint in UK academia – reflections on the academy itself, on British politics and policy, and so on. I will be nice, promise. One often … Continue reading Farewell mutterings 1: decentralised Britain
For the umpteenth time in the last year (it seems) I heard yet another story this morning about how appalling it is that government can’t seem to manage big contracts, particularly (but not exclusively) big IT contracts. This time, it was sparked by a government announcement that in future, IT contracts would have maximum spend limits, time limits, limits to contract extension and various anti-monopoly … Continue reading Government and big IT failures: it’s the accountability, stupid
In the last ten years, one of the great things about being an academic has been the explosion of public information available online. While I miss aspects of browsing through dusty archives and stacks, it’s been an awrful lot easier and an awful lot quicker to go to the relevant department or ministerial website and download some policy papers at a few clicks of the … Continue reading Hiding behind transparency: the UK government online information strategy?
The David Miranda case is causing outrage for all sorts of good reasons: interference in legitimate journalism, abuse of power, excessive powers being granted in the first place, detention without advice, etc etc. Underlying all this, however, is a set of issues that is not being talked about so much: the deliberate undermining of politics as a legitimate pursuit for anyone other than professional politicians. … Continue reading Miranda and the policing of politics