Government as a Platform: The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing?

This is the latest in a series of articles by Larry Larkin that looks at GaaP. Read them all.  

There’s a debate going on in the UK regarding what the Government Digital Service (GDS) is going to deliver – a true Government as a Platform (GaaP) service model that transforms the way government does business and blows up the monolithic siloed system mold or just a “platform-looking” variation of current systems based on updated technology – the latter being referred to as a “Platform for Government” or PfG.

In a very interesting article, Mark Thompson, a leading (and very vocal) proponent of GaaP in the UK, cautions that the British government may be heading down the PfG path, largely as a result of scant engagement by senior civil servants and politicians and strong lobbying by large system integrators – who have the most to lose from the implementation of a true GaaP service delivery model. In short, civil servants are sniffy about a model that many see as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Not all see it that way.

So what’s the difference between GaaP and PfG? According to Thompson, their contrasting characteristics are shown in the table below.

The differences between GaaP and PfG (Source: Adapted from Mark Thompson’s article: “Government as a platform, or a platform for government? Which are we getting? See link in post).

The differences between GaaP and PfG (Source: Adapted from Mark Thompson’s article: “Government as a platform, or a platform for government? Which are we getting?” See link in post).

So why is it important? As Thompson puts it: “The distinction here – and government’s choice – between a blueprint for GaaP that supports participation versus one that supports mere access, is critical. The former is about democratic re-invigoration, and the latter is about – well, just technology. Participation is much more disruptive to existing modes of organising within government.”

Stay tuned.

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