A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Government Web Sites to be Reduced or Eliminated

Recent leaked documents have confirmed that Tony 'Gazebo' Clements has been asked by King Harper to drastically cut the number of government websites available to Canadians. Initially, the number of sites will be slashed to six, with the ultimate goal of consolidating all online Government of Canada information into one big website.
The Huffington Post reports that a PowerPoint presentation that outlines the federal government's Web Renewal Action! Plan is available in two parts here and here). Scheduled to roll out at the end of this month, the plan will bring about some major changes in how government information is posted and archived online, and not for the better. As they point out one of the first things to go will be printed archival material as per the 2012 budget, such material will supposedly be available in electronic form but given this regimes propensity to 'loose' material that does not give me any sense of confidence that such material will be avalable any time soon or even ever.

In a speech back in November 2012 extolling the plan to “ leveragee technology to challenge the status quo and improve government operations” Mr Gazebo made it all sound really great, “This new (Open Data) site will use the Open Government Platform, initially developed by the United States Government” “it will take our current platform, which is based on outdated code and proprietary technologies, to open source code, implemented and maintained through international partnerships”
In the speech entitled “Modernize the Use of Information Technology in Government” Tony 'Gazebo' Clements gave the following example ”The Treasury Board Secretariat has released data on the financial expenditures of all federal departments and agencies as part of our efforts to make financial reporting more transparent and more accountable.” This is in stark contrast to the comments of our about to be replaced Parliamentary Budget Officer who has had great difficulty in obtaining departmental budgetary information and who's figures often vary greatly from those issuing from the Treasury Board. I would suggest that the PBO website will be one of the first to be “modernized” out of existence and that interested citizens need to copy and save the historical documentation of Mr Pages work before it is disappeared.
As several observers have noted and those of us who have learned to take a very cynical view of any announcement issued by this government will agree, the question is exactly how much information will be transferred to these new sites where “The goal here to be able to access more information, not less,” “Being able to find it in one place means you’re getting the information you need versus not getting all the information you need”. Already several sites have 'disappeared' and no links to the information previously provided have been provided, is this newspeak at it finest?

The is no argument from me that the government web sites and access to information web sites need to be modernized and perhaps consolidated, but I fear that given this regimes past record such consolidation will be a good excuse for 'loosing' much of our historical information – particularly that which reflects poorly on the actions of the Harper Regimes record over the last 6 years. Most departments must already obtain 'permission' to post information to departmental web sites and the centralization of power within the PMO Department of Secrecy and Misinformation will be greatly enhanced by having fewer web sites to monitor.
Remember all those links to government data you have embedded in you posts to let readers know that you are not making thing up? Guess what, this consolidation will negate all those, along with all the hard won links saved to data sources hidden in the depths of some departments web site, and if you think that all this data will all be transferred and an updated link provided on the old site then I have a cottage for sale on the banks of the pristine Athabaska river just south of Fort McMurray !

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Bluegreenblogger said...

But really, don't you think it would just be so much more efficient? We could create a new Ministry to manage all our information, and correct the historical record. We could call it, well, how about the Ministry of Truth?

Rural said...

LOL, indeed that would fit right in.....how Orwellian!