Facebook wonk among 'digital' advisers to Cabinet Office

No room on board for Google or telcos, though...


Facebook's head Brussels' policy wonk Richard Allan is among the names joining a digital advisory group created by the Cabinet Office.

Francis Maude's department confirmed that the collective would unsurprisingly be chaired by digerati darling Martha Lane Fox, who carried out a review of the government's online services in late 2010.

The board, made up of 12 members, will meet twice a year and advise the team behind GOV.UK – a single government domain currently in beta that's intended to eventually replace New Labour's Directgov website.

Maude said:

We are making public service delivery ‘digital by default’ and creating a single place online for government information.

This revolutionary approach in the way government interacts with citizens will offer huge gains in efficiency and cost-effectiveness for the taxpayer.

The impressive expertise and experience on the Digital Advisory Board will help us achieve our challenging goal of delivering all services digitally so they are cheaper, simpler, clearer and quicker and easier to use.

Former Ofcom policy bod and one-time non-exec director of Phorm Kip Meek has also been appointed to Maude's digital advisory board.

Lloyds in the only bank to be represented in the line-up. There's also a venture capital fund "for entrepreneurs powered by entrepreneurs", and retailer M&S, among others.

Perhaps more surprisingly, there's no one on the board from Google or Microsoft, nor for that matter any of the big four telcos: BT, Virgin Media, TalkTalk and BSkyB.

Apparently, the board's first confab takes place today.

The Cabinet Office, as we previously reported, has been in talks with Facebook and other industry players such as banks on ID-handling online.

However, a fresh law to protect taxpayer's identity would almost certainly be needed to farm out such data to the private sector.

Some have argued that it is unnecessary to build an entirely new platform for transactions between benefit claimants and the Department for Work and Pensions – which has been tasked with steering the government's ID scheme, dubbed by Maude as "Little Brother".

After all, a system for handling a taxpayer's identity credentials already exists. Microsoft created the Government Gateway programme back in 2001. The Cabinet Office, however, has countered that a new market can be developed to complement its digital agenda while, it insists, saving money for the public purse. ®

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