Interview

Supporting Governments Develop its Strategies : Graham Walker, Managing Partner- GOV3 Limited, London, UK

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“The Gov3 helps governments connect to their citizens, fosters ICT-enabled transformation, and delivers concrete ‘how-to’ help with countries implementing good practice.  Additionally, the Gov3 provides an environment within which governments and industry can engage in a ‘grown up’ discussion about the changing needs of governments” says Graham Walker, Managing Partner, GOV3 Limited, London,  UK

After serving for eleven strong years in UK government in Policy making, what has been the motivation to start Gov3?

Gov3 stands for government for the third millennium. Probably what it should say is government fit for the third millennium. What motivates us is the opportunity technology provides for governments to interact with citizens in ways that have never before been possible. For governments to actually be the government that citizen deserves. The challenge facing those working in government is using technology to deliver public services centered to people’s satisfaction. That is the strong motivating force for us.

After serving 11 years in the UK Government, we were motivated to share some of the lessons we have learned. The good things we did and the not so good things we did. The not so good things are sometimes more useful to people. That is why we decided to start Gov3, a different kind of consultancy business. We decided that we did not want to just focus on UK. We wanted to go around the world, discussing with  people in other governments and to share the lessons we have learnt.

What is the approach/strategy adopted to achieve this vision?

The main thing about our approach is that, wherever we work, we are always supporting our clients in government to develop their own strategy. We do not tell them: ‘here is the way to do it.’ Because we have learned that, in every country, context varies. Politics, economics, social situations, people’s culture and values are all different. Therefore, we will never sell one-size-fits all policy or strategy to the governments.

That said, we do have a lot of experience and we can provide a great deal of support to help people develop their own strategies. Thus, our approach is to provide whatever assistance we can, to support governments with the experience and knowledge that we have, to help people develop their own strategies.

What does Gov3 offer to governments in order to enhance them in transforming into e-Governments?

The Gov3 helps governments connect to their citizens, fosters ICT-enabled transformation, and delivers concrete ‘how-to’ help with countries implementing good practice.

Additionally, the Gov3 provides an environment within which governments and industry can engage in a ‘grown up’ discussion about the changing needs of governments as they move beyond traditional e-government approaches towards more significant transformation.

It is mainly pure strategy advice and we also do programme management when it is a huge strategic project. Often governments have big agenda around education, health and also a big IT project, and there is hardly a connection between them. These two things need to be joined, not just what IT can do, but what is it that governments want out of IT for its citizens. We are excited about the potential of IT but not about the potential of selling IT.

What according to you are the competitive advantages of Gov3?

What differentiates us from other consulting firms is that we have all worked in government for a very long time.  The majority of Gov3 consultants have worked in government. The ex-CIOs of Estonia and Finland, very senior officials from Indian Government and former World Bank , OECD advisers  significantly contributes to our strength. They all have insight in to government’s ways of working and its problems.

The main thing about our approach is that, wherever we work, we are always supporting our clients in government to develop their own strategy. We do not tell them: ‘here is the way to do it.’ Because we have learned that, in every country, context varies. Politics, economics, social situations, people’s culture and values are all different

Our biggest competitive advantage is that we are in a market of one. There is no company like us in the market. We regularly compete with very high level strategy houses but they just sell governments the philosophy of implementation of ICT systems. On the other hand, we not only understand the best practice of transforming business but also we have practically done it to deliver the intended benefits. We do not sell any ICT solution. We just advise governments to make the right choice. We understand what goes wrong, why it is different or why it is difficult. This is how we are different from other consulting companies.

According to the United Nations (UN), you have build the worlds’ Best portal. What do you think as the key driver for this achievement.

It is nice that the UN has said that directgov (www.directgov.uk), the portal, we built when we worked in the UK government, is considered the world’s best. That said, the opinion we value most is that of citizens themselves. This is an important point because citizen’s expectations are rising. They are demanding the same quality of service from government as they get from the private sector retailers. 

The vision behind directgov was to create an online government store, a very high quality departmental store for citizens.  Our aim was to aggregate services from all the different sources within government. And then deliver them to citizens in one place and in the most convenient way possible. It was a long journey to produce something like directgov .

What are the Gov3 plans in India.

India stands as one of the fastest growing countries in the world and the IT world has lot of expectations from this country. Your country has a golden opportunity to learn from the past experiences of other countries and adapt the best to practice in order to get the best results. India has already created enabling framework  by launching NEGP, SWAN and CSC programme to name a few. Looking at the strong potential in India Gov3 has set up its first office out side UK in Pune from November 2007.

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