UK Government Hires Tsar Of Twitter

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You can follow Andrew Stott, the former government deputy CIO, now appointed as “digital engagement director”

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The UK Cabinet Office has created the new role of director of “digital engagement”, and appointed a Twitter-using CIO. But critics say the government is very behind when it comes to using the web

Currently government deputy chief information officer, Andrew Stott will take up the newly created position which will be based in government communications and the Cabinet Office. Stott ,53, will work across government departments to encourage better use of the web to communicate with citizens and will also chair the Government’s Knowledge Council.

Digital engagement means Web 2.0, of course, and to show that Stott is fully engaged with the tech zeitgeist, the government announced that the public can follow him on Twitter: Twitter.com/DirDigEng. At the time of writing, he has 590 followers, is following one person, and has tweeted twice. Sensible Twitterers are giving him a chance to find his feet.He also has a blog.

Tom Watson MP, Minister for Digital Engagement said that he would work alongside Stott to help improve the government’s use of the web. “Together we will transform the way that government engages with citizens through the internet and free up government data, so that people can use public services more effectively,” said Watson.

The government has been pushing the idea that the web can help with engaging with UK citizens. Earlier this year, the Prime Minister Gordon Brown congratulated the winners of the Technology E-Government Awards which showcased new ways of using the web to access public services.

“The E-Government Awards recognise individuals, teams and organisations who are using new technologies in innovative and creative ways to deliver better public services,” he said. “When times are tough, as they are now, it is more important than ever for government to work as smoothly and efficiently as possible. I hope you will continue to push forward with your mission to transform our public services and, with them, the lives of people up and down the country.

Tom Watson added that the public sector needed to catch up with the private sector when it comes to web services. “More and more people are using the internet to carry out everyday tasks like banking and shopping, and they have the right to expect that the public services they rely on are available in the same way,” he said. ” The Government is committed to making our public services stronger, more efficient and more accessible than ever before, and we can only achieve this by making the most of the opportunities that the digital age opens up.”

However, despite some progress, such as being able to apply for a tax disc online, the government has been woefully slow when it comes to using the potential of the web according to some critics. In a recent interview, Tom Steinberg, director and co-founder of mySociety.org said that the government has only tapped “about a quarter of one percent’ of the potential of the web to interface with citizens.

mySociety is the umbrella organisation for a group of sites including TheyWorkForYou.com, WriteToThem.com, and PledgeBank.com which are all based to some degree of making the government more transparent to the UK’s citizens.

Stott’s previous experience includes roles in the Department of Work and Pensions, the Post Office, and HM Prison Service, with half of his career focused on IT strategy.

He graduated from the University of Cambridge with a degree in Mathematics and Law.