Knowledge held in different departments across Whitehall is now being shared through the Government Secure Intranet in the first phase of the Knowledge Network. Some 54,000 civil servants can now tap into briefings and policy research findings of colleagues in different departments, so bringing joined up government a little closer to reality. They will also have access to local and regional statistical information.The first phase of the Knowledge Network project gives read only access to the database, but it is planned to allow users to add their departmental information so that a continually updated picture of cross cutting issues can be available across government. Progressively, more data held in departments will also be added to the database.
The Network has been developed by a Cabinet Office team working with a consortium which includes Cable and Wireless, Lotus and IBM. The contract is valued at some 10m pounds. This is a world first development with export potential.
Implications of the new Network extend well beyond easier access to information. The Network is part of the strategy to change the civil service culture to bring a more open approach and dismantle the walls between departments and between the various parts of the public sector. Although at the moment the Network is a bolt on addition to the facilities available to civil servants, it is intended to change the way people work and foster a public sector wide view.
In the longer term, non-confidential information in the Knowledge Network will be available to the general public through the Internet.