Today the Government launched its Spending Challenge; this online initiative is supposed to garner ideas from ‘Joe Public’ on how the Government can save money.
The main issue I have with this is cost-benefit-analysis; is really the best way to come up with new ideas to set up a few hundred thousand pound web based project to ask people how to save money?
I know the Government is relatively new, but I would hope that they have a better idea of where and how to make cuts than ‘Joe Public’.
When a crowd marched through Paris, the 19th century politician Ledru-Rollin is supposed to have said, ‘There go my people. I must find out where they’re going so I can lead them’, should politicians not lead, rather than try to pander to public opinion? Why are we asking people with little or no experience around public spending to suggest what to cut?
I suspect that the whole project is lip service to the public though, that it’s an exercise in public engagement on what will be painful cuts for the vast majority of people. It’s a ‘buy in’ method rather than an actual ‘idea generating’ project.
If the Treasury is really trying to use technology to garner ideas, then their efforts will surely flounder. Not only is the idea likely to yield the same kind of responses as “is [sic] nuclear weapons needed” but the site seems to have little or no organisation, and also has little or no posting security. I’m just waiting for the suggestions that the Government should sell Viagra and if not here’s a website you can buy it from.
I posted an idea on the site to save money ‘Shut Down This Site’; just this idea alone could save the Treasury £500,000. At present I’ve joined the roughly 6 ideas a minute being posted, but still my idea is 8th with the total number of comments
Ok it took a week, which is slightly less time than I thought it would; the ‘updates’ section on the site reads
They have now replaced the whole site with a webform to capture what they have recorded as over 31,000 ideas, not sure how much the site cost each taxpayer in the country, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a couple of pence. Maybe there is a lesson in there on how to save the tax payer money?