We don’t know them because we don’t speak to them. And we don’t speak to them because we don’t know them. As a government organization, we spend a lot of time navel gazing. It doesn’t matter that we mean well and that we’re nice people, what we come up with does not correspond to reality.
A couple weeks ago I read ‘Zo hadden we het niet bedoeld’ by Jesse Frederik, a book about the childcare benefit scandal in the Netherlands. It was an extensive exposition of the inside affairs of the government. Of course, it fascinates me enormously with my…
Five years ago I started with a small blog (in Dutch) about user research in government: klipklaar.nl. I had just started working as a user researcher myself, at the Executive Agency of Education (DUO, in the Netherlands). What I learned, I wrote on my blog and shared with a few readers.
One blog led to another. From applying research methods, experiments to involve users (including failures!) to strategic decisions about the role research should play in the organization. In the past five years our research team grew stronger and we invested in our research operations.
Lately there has been a cry for more customization in government services in The Netherlands. The last couple of years there has been an immense scandal with services for child benefits at our Tax Office, but that’s not all. Stories keep popping up of other citizens who are struggling with government services that don’t fit their needs and who even seem to work against them.
More customization is needed, I keep reading. But that is not the solution. At least… not if customization means ‘working around the system’. Then it’s patchwork. We should rather change the structure of the system.
A year ago The Forum opened in my home town Groningen. There was plenty to do on the opening weekend, including Inferno, a spectacular interactive robot performance. I had to be here! In this article I share about my dance to Inferno and what this experience did to me in relation to my research into an emphatic digital government.
Inferno is a performance by the artists Bill Vorn and Louis-Philippe Demers who regularly collaborate in digital art projects. They make a lot of robotic art to make the public think about future scenarios. Vice wrote about Inferno: “Hell is being…
Some weeks ago I wrote about the beauty of the back of the government. If the government works openly, it would make everything so much better. Wanting to do that is one thing, but how do you start?
After I wrote that article I received a message from three ladies of the Municipality of Amsterdam who wanted to work on a project openly, but did not know how to start. Together we came up with a number of steps you can take to “open up”. In this blog I list them.
You are not open by yourself. You’re open so…
The source code of the Dutch government will be open as much as possible from next year. The minister of Home Affairs writes this in the budget plans for 2021. Government departments who want to share the source code of their digital services and want to work in the open, can count on the support of the minister.
“Empathy is something very unstable for a civil servant”, says Jean, business analyst at the Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs (or Education Executive Agency in English), better known as DUO. Jean and I are sitting behind my laptop in my photo studio. We are looking at a picture of him where he holds his breath and has a look in his eyes that says ‘I don’t know either’. I just made a series of photos of Jean as a compassionate civil servant. He is participating in my design research project about the role of empathy in digital government.